Let’s say you’re 45 years old, you have two kids, you own a small business, and you’re searching for a new accountant.
You’ve found two, both of whom you get on with and who have the same general qualifications. But one is 25 years old and one is 70 years old.
Whom do you choose?
Does age play into your choice at all?
And if it does, should it?
Both young and old accountants have benefits and drawbacks, but essentially, age is just a number.
Generally, the age of your accountant only matters when it matters.
Like if an older accountant can’t communicate with you properly because they’re still using a fax machine, or if a younger accountant doesn’t have the proper skill set to do complex transactions.
Or conversely, if a younger accountant keeps texting you when you really want a phone call, or an older accountant isn’t using risky enough tactics.
Most important is to find an accountant to whom you can relate. That may mean that you want an accountant close in age to you who have gone through, or at least seen people go through, the same life stages you’re going through.
So if you are similar to our 45-year-old example, that may mean that a millennial accountant, while technically proficient, but may not be able to relate to certain aspects of your life, like making RESP contributions, budgeting for daycare, or paying a mortgage.
They really aren’t going to be able to understand your priorities. You’re generally going to feel more comfortable with a professional that understands the things you’re going through and is even thinking about those particular things for themselves at that moment.
At the same time, a bachelor 45-year-old may enjoy the energy of a younger accountant and someone who has a fresh perspective on tax planning strategies.
The best balance would be to find an accountant who is part of a team so that you have available the full spectrum of skills and opinions. That way, you can get the dynamism of youth, and if they don’t have the answer for you, they have the ability to figure it out with a colleague.
Conversely, if you have a challenging financial or tax plan, you can work directly with someone born in the 1940s or 1950s who’s seen it all and can advise you with practical knowledge to back it up, and then they can always consult with a younger accountant if they need something reviewed (or if they need something exported to PDF to send to you).
Our firm, for example, has a pretty large age range where the oldest full-time member of our staff has 30 years’ experience and the youngest member is in his early 20s. We have a culture of willingness to learn from different age groups and to help each other out.
Ultimately, it’s not really about the number, but with whom you connect. Because that relationship and that trust you develop with your accountant is how you’re going to get the most out of any financial and tax planning strategy.