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Ontario doctors need to choose their accounting firm with care.

Let’s face it – doctor’s have way better things to do than to pour over the Canadian Income tax act. Outsourcing this task literally frees up time to save lives.

Physician taxes in Ontario are as complex as any small business owner and you’re going to need a helping hand in drafting a comprehensive financial plan. Whether you’re incorporated or a sole proprietor, you’ll need assistance structuring your business, figuring out how to lower and defer taxes, and planning for retirement.

But not all accounting firms are made equal. So how should doctors go about choosing one?

We’ve compiled five things physicians should look for in an accounting firm:

1. Experience with physicians

Nothing is more important than to look for a firm who already has a host of doctors on its client roster. This is not an area for rookies. Doctors are high earners with very little time who are also running small businesses — without necessarily ever wanting to be entrepreneurs. This puts doctors in somewhat of a bind. Since doctors are relying so much on their accountants to devise and implement the best tactics, it’s essential that the firm knows what they’re doing, especially when navigating new tax legislation. When you’re interviewing firms, ask them how many physician clients they have and how long they’ve been practicing in this area.

2. The right size

A medium-sized accounting firm is probably best for most physicians, especially if they’re also running a medical practice. Your financial life is likely too complex for an individual accountant, but you don’t want to get lost in the shuffle of a big firm. A medium-sized accounting firm should have a range of specialists to cater to your needs.

3. Personal attention

The relationship and attention you feel like you’re getting from your on-point accountant is essential in staying a happy client. Interview accountants until you find someone you connect with because you always want to feel comfortable enough to ask detailed questions and to share your financial goals.

4. Full-service firm

Time is incredibly valuable to physicians. Doctors are busy and don’t have the time to manage, much less micro-manage, their finances and taxes. Find a firm that can handle every aspect of your financial life, from advising you on how to invest passive corporate income, to maximizing deductions. A full-service firm may also save you money in the long-run. You may need a partner to come up with an overarching tax plan, but you don’t necessarily want to be paying their hourly rate to do bookkeeping. A full-service firm will have the manpower to delegate simpler tasks.

5. Ability to look at financial planning holistically

The last thing you want is an accountant who does your taxes and sends you on your way. Any firm can handle a tax return — what you’re looking for is a firm that can create a truly comprehensive financial plan that takes into account all aspects of your life. For example, let’s say you want to ensure the long-term financial security of your stay-at-home spouse and children — your firm will advise you on the most tax-advantageous way of structuring yourself based on your specific circumstances, like maybe buying a life insurance policy through your corporation. The bottom line is, a firm should always ask you what your goals are and then work on an action plan to help you achieve them.

Campanella McDonald LLP is a full-service accounting firm based in Oakville Ontario. The firm’s partners and staff concentrate on helping independent professionals maximize their bottom lines by providing specialized accounting, assurance, tax compliance, tax planning and financial advisory services.

If you’re a physician looking for an accounting firm to quarter-back your financial success, give us a call.