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Certified public accountants may need a letter of recommendation as part of an application to grad school, for jobs and promotions, or when seeking new clients. Writing an effective letter that supports the CPA in her endeavors takes practice and skill. Take time to write and then edit your letter, looking for clarity, proper grammar, the inclusion of important details and your own credentials as an arbiter of professional accounting standards.
State the Facts
Make sure to name the person for whom you are writing the letter, using his full name, in the first paragraph to inform the reader of its objective. Additionally, state the purpose of the letter, such as if you’ve used the CPA yourself and know that he will be using the letter to gain new clients, or if the CPA is seeking admission to a doctorate program or other university program that requires a letter of recommendation. State in the opening how long you have known the accountant and in what capacity.
Provide Your Credentials
A letter of recommendation is more valuable when it comes from someone with intimate knowledge of the field of accounting and its many challenges. Provide information about yourself both in relation to the CPA for whom you’re writing, as well as to the financial world in general. As the CFO for a Fortune 500 firm, you may hold more weight than the loading dock manager, for example. An independent business owner can speak highly of a CPA who saved him money on his taxes and set up his entire accounting system. An accounting professor’s letter holds more sway than an English teacher’s, so let the reader know your background and credentials to add credence to your recommendation.
Reference Important Characteristics
In the body of the letter, it’s vital that you reference characteristics and skills pertinent to the job of a CPA. For example, it’s much more important that a CPA doesn’t miss details than the fact that she is a good talker in social situations. Address the CPA’s skills in your letter and refer to specific examples when you have them. Talk about how the CPA straightened the mess your books were in before she took them over, or how her knowledge of the tax codes helped your company make profitable investments at just the right time.
Include Personal Notes
Potential employers and schools also need to know something about the CPA’s character, which you can address through your personal history. Ending a letter on a personal note that expresses your willingness to trust the CPA with your finances at any time or use him for future projects strengthens the recommendation. Include the fact that you know the CPA professionally and personally, if that’s the case. Expressing faith in the CPA’s integrity at every level can provide a powerful recommendation for any potential use.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."
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