Typically, manufacturers are so focused on news and advances within their field that they don’t consider the importance of partnering with a CPA firm that really understands their industry and business.

But by not making this a priority, they may be missing out on knowledge specific to their industry – which may result in a lack of quality in their accounting services and a lack of access to additional related services.

Today, manufacturers are competing on a global scale, and regional companies are expanding internationally all of the time in order to effectively grow and stay relevant. Now it is more important than ever to partner with a CPA firm that can help to make the most of this growth and offer ways to capitalize on new opportunities for financial gains.

How does one determine if a CPA firm knows their industry? The best way for a CPA firm to demonstrate this knowledge is by highlighting their current or former manufacturing clients as references. Working specifically with one of the firm’s accountants who specializes in this area is preferable, as this enhances the accountant’s ability to address technical issues quickly and effectively. Given the confidentiality policies and procedures in place, a manufacturing firm should not look at a list of comparable clients as aiding the competition. Instead, this type of CPA firm reference sheet can help enhance best practices and better clarify areas that should be of focus to a manufacturing firm – and those that should not. A CPA firm’s clients can specifically address the quality of services, responsiveness, expertise and other areas of concern you may have in making this key decision.

Years of experience are also an important criteria in determining if your CPA firm knows your industry, but so is a strong grasp of new accounting pronouncements, some of which can change from year to year. The combination of expertise in accounting and manufacturing will ensure that available deductions and tax credits are maximized, and that the CPA firm is able to handle the challenges that arise from meeting both regional and international financial and operational standards, as well as offer the right mix of financial and business solutions so that the manufacturing firm can grow and prosper.

In addition to this general level of expertise within the manufacturing field, manufacturing companies should also look for CPA firms that are willing to take the time and energy to get to know you and your company personally. Being known for an emphasis on long-lasting relationships and superior levels of quality service can be just as important as being known for more technical, industry-specific knowledge – and finding a firm with a reputation for both aspects will go a long way toward a manufacturing company’s success. You want to feel comfortable going to your CPA firm with not only business issues, but personal financial issues as they arise. As clients grow, they face new challenges that they should feel comfortable reaching out to their CPAs as an advisor to help them navigate through.

Financial accounting proficiency is certainly an important quality in a CPA firm, but there are additional factors that a manufacturer should keep in mind when partnering with a CPA firm that may benefit the whole of the manufacturing business. Look for additional services the accounting firm offers, and if they have a network of professionals and resources available to them to assist you in achieving your goals. If the manufacturing company deals with international entities, for example, a firm that offers international tax services can aid in the global management of intangible property, tax efficient leveraging, cash flow management, transfer pricing, foreign tax credit planning, and also has resources available to you internationally (attorneys or affiliated CPA firms) to help with global strategies.

In addition, there are additional services that may provide unexpected help to a manufacturer as they grow their business. Some services, including financial services, mergers and acquisitions, business valuations, benefit plan audits, financial projections, crisis management, cost segregation and R&D studies, and business succession planning, may not be everyday needs of a manufacturing company. Still, when issues do arise that require these services, it’s important to partner with a company that has the expertise in these areas, has a network of professionals and is already affiliated with other trusted entities that can advise on these complicated and sometimes emotionally challenging topics.

By looking for a CPA firm that has industry experience with other manufacturing firms, a personal approach to working with your firm, and that offers a range of services beyond the basic accounting needs, manufacturers can ensure solid financial footing and long-term business success.

Mark Henry is a Director at KAF and the chair of the firm’s Accounting and Auditing Committee. With over eleven years in the accounting industry, Mark has significant experience offering services and advisory in the manufacturing, distribution, hi-tech, professional services and employee benefit industries. For more information, please visit www.kafgroup.com or email mhenry@kafgroup.com.


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