I sent over a ton of financial documents, and he told me that he'd have some tax commitments later in the fall, but that he'd be able to look at my stuff first if I sent it over soon. Since I sent it within the hour I assumed I'd have an answer to my very specific tax question, fairly soon.
After a couple of weeks I sent an email asking him how things were going and if he had any idea of time frames and when I could expect an answer. He told me he had blocked off some time to work on it that afternoon.
That was a week and a half ago.
I was trying to give this guy the benefit of the doubt, and mostly I desperately wanted it to work out so I wouldn't have to go on another search, but I knew in my gut this wasn't going to work out. I already resented him and how little he cared about helping me, and I knew I'd have a hard time trusting any advice he gave us.
But we really need to figure out this tax issue fast. Basically, we have some company stock and we've been sitting on it too long. The price is really high and we have to decide if we should sell now and take a tax hit because we haven't owned it for the year necessary to qualify for long term capital gains treatment, or wait it out a year and hope for the best. The longer we wait the more we are pushing out this decision and it's starting to really stress me out.
On Thursday my husband and I were thinking we were going to just sell the stock and so we wouldn't be needing an accountant at all, so I emailed him explaining that, asking that he stop working on our stuff. I told him we'd pay him for anything he had already done, but sure enough he emailed back saying he was planning to start working on our stuff on Monday.
But then Friday rolled around and we realized that just selling without all of the facts was a bad idea and one largely driven by fear. So I skeptically went looking for another accountant.
I have no idea how other people find accountants, but I find it very frustrating myself. Let me give you a short history of my ordeal, which begins about 6 months ago.
- First I reached out to local accountants asking for help with my company stock (I have some unique issues with it) and I couldn't find anyone with prior experience with in that specific field. Each offered to research it for me, but I was looking for someone with previous knowledge.
- My mom recommended the accountant my grandpa used. I called him and left a message, saying I was the granddaughter of his client, but he never called back.
- Next I asked colleagues. Some offered me names of "financial advisers" who would only work with me if I turned over at least $250K of invest-able assets to their control. No thanks. I finally got in touch with an actual accountant, and he recommended I find someone local because I would be needing ongoing help with filing taxes and such. Fair enough. I was actually relieved that he said that because I didn't really click with him and wasn't sure how to cut it off without offending my colleague.
- Next I did an internet search and found the accountant that I went with a month ago. Basically when he said the magic words, that he had worked with people in my situation before, I fell into his arms with a sigh of relief.
- And then I didn't hear from him for weeks, which brings me to Friday.
I started my search with a brief Google search of the top accounting firms in the nearest big city. I immediately ruled out the huge ones like Deliotte, E&Y, etc. because I knew my individual business wouldn't mean much to them when they work with huge corporations. So I started calling some of the top rated, smaller firms in the area.
I called 5 of them and I never once got through to anyone familiar with my stock situation. The receptionist would take down my name and tell me someone would call me back, or I'd get through to an accountant who would say "yes.....I think someone here has dealt with that.....I'm pretty sure.....let me find out who and have them call you." Not exactly instilling great confidence in me.
Frustrated beyond belief I called my mom to complain about my situation and she recommended I call the firm that my grandpa used for years. I said no at first. My grandfather's accountant never returned my phone call, and I wanted someone that really wanted my business. I was sick of feeling young and unimportant when these decisions are huge for me (we're talking a $30K difference in taxes).
But I was so tired that I decided to give it a shot. Instead of calling that accountant in particular though, I decided to call the firm to explain my situation and see who they would suggest. I'll admit, I did a little bit of name dropping, mentioning that my grandfather recommended the firm, and I think that really helped. I immediately got through to someone who not only told me he was familiar with the situation, but also started asking me very specific questions about my stock, giving me full confidence in his abilities.
I told him I could send him documents within the hour and we've made an appointment to meet in person on Wednesday. Just 3 business days after contacting this accountant, I will have my answer and be able to start taking action.
After all that I feel like I can finally breath. I've been so stressed not only about my stock situation but also about feeling like I had made a mistake with that accountant. But now I feel like we're on the right track and can move forward.
If you are ever looking for an accountant, my suggestion would be to get a recommendation from someone who has been with a firm a long time. My grandpa has been a loyal customer for many years and so I feel more confident knowing they will want to make sure I'm happy so that my grandpa keeps coming back to them. But I'm still holding my breath until Wednesday. Hopefully I'll walk out of our meeting feeling like I made the right choice, but if not, at least I'll know quickly.