Online Services in Okla. Put Financial Advice at Your Fingertips

Article excerpt

Starting a new small business, establishing an IRA or filing income taxes can bring up a number of unknowns.

For people who aren't ready to call an accountant or financial adviser, there's a growing trend in town - asking financial questions online.

The Oklahoma Society of CPAs offers an "Ask a CPA" function at knowwhatcounts.org, and a new online business, BidaWiz.com, provides financial answers as well.

Sometimes people can get their questions answered with a few keystrokes; other times, they are referred to an accountant or financial adviser. But the medium is proving to be a popular and quick way that people can ask a question that is bogging them down.

"We get about two questions a week, but two a day during tax season," said Amy Welch, director of communications for the Oklahoma Society of CPAs. "If it's something our members can answer, they will. But if it's something where a person needs to sit down with someone and share all their information, then we'll refer them to a financial adviser."

Welch receives the e-mailed questions and sends them out to the society's accountants, who volunteer their time to answer. She may send a question to one person who specializes in a certain area, or to many of the 60 accountants who are on the rotation. The society's service is free.

Asking a financial question online has a way of giving people the bravado they need when money is a difficult subject, she said.

"I think people do feel better asking questions online - you don't have to worry as much about whether it's a stupid question or it's something you should already know," Welch said. "People think money is a dirty thing, but none of us is born knowing how it works."

Joe Sparks, audit manager of Koch Siedhoff, answers questions for the society as a way to give back to people who need a little direction. …