How to Pick an Accounting Firm

Guest post by Hisham Al-Shurafa, CEO of Essential Health Systems Inc.

Startup founders may be talented in many things, but navigating the maze of accounting firms out there and picking the right one might not be at the top of your mind when starting out. That was definitely my case when starting my first venture 14 years ago.

What makes a good accounting firm and what makes an accounting firm the right one for you? It seems like there are many options out there. Perhaps you ask a friend in the industry for recommendations. Or perhaps you just gravitate to the brand name accounting firms because you see their logos all over the place. Or perhaps you feel at ease with the one-man shop that a relative of yours uses or you heard about through your community.

I’ve tried all these options over the years, and none of them are bad. You just have to pick the right one for you.

The talented one-man shop usually provides you a personalized no non-sense option at relatively low cost, but will eventually get too busy for you or not be familiar with some services you need like SR&ED or the latest cloud accounting tools.

A brand name accounting firm might give you confidence that you have made no wrong decision. They also sometimes give really good advice based on the plethora of tax fillings and CRA engagements they have had in the past. But just wait for the sticker shock at the end of the year, and the more bureaucratized treatment of your file.

And then there’s always upstart accounting firms saying and doing whatever it takes to grab marketshare. Their service is often good at the beginning, but like any fast growth company, the key is how they transition into a profitable company and how price and service will change as they make that transition.

There’s also the working style of each accounting firm. Do you like to have lots of phone calls and synchronous meetings? Or do you prefer dealing with as many things as possible via email? Are you relatively organized digitally and do you expect your accounting firm to be the same? These are all factors to consider when choosing a firm.

After all these experiences, my rule of thumb for picking an accounting firm is to pick the firm that most resembles your company. If your company was an accounting firm what would it look like? Think about that and try to find the firm that best matches your vision.

For my company, this accounting firm was Xen. My company is a leader in online healthcare for Canadians, so partnering up with a leading cloud accounting firm like Xen was a natural fit. We are remote first and so is Xen. We love to do things asynchronously and only do meetings when absolutely necessary. I feel Xen has a similar culture to that. We are digital first and obsess over details, efficiency, and workflow. Xen applies the same on the accounting side. And we are focused on long term durable growth rather than quick exits. I feel Xen is similar to us in many ways.

So after 14 years of working with various corporate accounting firms, I have developed an appreciation and interest in this exciting world of Canadian cloud accounting firms. In this landscape, Xen is one of the leaders with deep roots, and I definitely recommend them!

Share this article

About Xen Accounting

Xen Accounting is a virtual accounting firm designed for modern day small business owners with one goal in mind: to create a truly pain-free accounting experience. Through technology and a forward-thinking approach, Xen Accounting is focusing on delivering professional accounting services for businesses in the digital age. To contact Xen Accounting, please email

Get started

Ready to boost your business with next-level accounting technology?

Get your free assessment