Accountants are a norm for most people around tax time. And then, post-tax season, we rarely think about them. But for co-op and condo owners, this shouldn’t be the case. It’s crucial that large associations hire an accountant to help with multiple items within the property.
After all, for most co-op and condo owners, their homes represent one of their largest assets, if not their largest asset by far. Their unit can be viewed as an investment—and while each individual unit owner or shareholder is responsible for managing their own personal finances and doing their part in maintaining and increasing the value of that investment; the building community also has a duty as well.
Balancing the Books
Boards work with outside accountants and financial advisers to balance the books, to manage reserve funds and to deal with other money matters, and it's crucial that the individual or firm in that position is capable, competent, and trustworthy—as well as being someone who can communicate complex financial information clearly and coherently to association board members and residents who are not all professional money managers.
The relationship between the board and an accountant needs to be taken seriously. This can be done via specific rulings and documents outlining everyone’s roles. And there are ways to optimize that relationship as long as everyone knows what to expect and what to demand.
The relationship between an accountant and a board usually begins when the accountant is recommended to them by other clients or professionals who have had favorable relationships with the accountant, says Karen Sackstein, CPA and owner of The Condo Queens in Fairlawn. “We're usually referred by a property management company, or they see us advertised or in a directory.” Jules Frankel, CPA for certified public accounting firm and consultant Wilkin & Guttenplan in East Brunswick, says, “If they were to go on the Community Associations Institute (CAI) website for New Jersey, they would find names of accountants that service the industry, or if they look through The Cooperator magazine.”