One of the key misconceptions about external SR&ED consultant is that they have a magic wand for SR&ED or access to some secret knowledge that others don’t. On the contrary, detailed information about SR&ED is easily available, either online or through helplines. In our experience, what businesses find more difficult is how to decipher all of the jargon and keep track of regulatory changes. A good consultant will help you overcome these challenges, but before you get there, the first challenge is – how do you select the right consultant?
Here is a strategic three-step guide to help you choose the right consultant.
Step One: How would you hire any service provider?
Selecting an SR&ED consultant is like selecting any service provider such as a lawyer or accountant. When you’re looking for a new lawyer or an accountant, look at their credentials – expertise, experience, reputation, track record, recommendations among peers (if any), and of course, the quality and experience of their team. Here are three qualities to look for when selecting the right consultant:
Consultants with years of experience and a proven track record can demystify the SR&ED program quickly and easily. Their expertise allows you to concentrate on your innovation while they track the SR&ED components of that work.
Consultants with an extensive understanding of your business segment and/or businesses similar to it are a huge win because they can hit the ground running once they’re onboard.
A solid team
Since different areas of expertise feed into a good SR&ED claim, a good consultant should be able to draw upon a pool of trusted experts from diverse backgrounds including law, accounting, and many more.
Step Two: Pick an SR&ED consultant that meets your needs
For the next leg of your search, ask specific questions. Use the answers you get to narrow down your best options.
- How much help do you actually need? Is a simple year-end claims preparation and review interaction enough? Or do you want a full-fledged partner from start to end – i.e. tracking through to filing and reviews?
- Will a software solution for tracking suffice?
- Would you want a hands-on consultant who is also willing to teach and train your staff on SR&ED?
- Consider in detail how boutique, mid-sized, or Big 4 consultancy firms would address your specific concerns.
- What kind of fee arrangements are you comfortable with?
Step Three: Red flags to consider while picking an SR&ED consultant
Not every service provider adopts the most ideal approach toward SR&ED tracking and claims. Here are some pointers to help you figure out who’s right and who’s wrong.
- Be wary of tall, overconfident promises from consultants who haven’t yet started the job or sat down with you to understand your business.
- Steer clear of consultants who claim to have special ‘insider access’ to the CRA.
- Avoid consultants who promise tech solutions to replace a human consultative approach.
In the end, your choice of a large corporation over the niche, boutique consultancies, or vice versa will be driven by your unique needs. In either case, we strongly believe that the best answer is one that is primarily human-led. Because no amount of algorithms can ever replace the perceptive insights that a human mind can bring to your SR&ED work.
Next: What happens after you submit a SR&ED claim