If there’s anything the past year has taught us about tax, it’s that getting too comfortable isn’t an option. Even though comprehensive tax reform doesn’t happen very often, it doesn’t take major revisions to the law to keep you on your toes. Fortunately, you can rely on items like the Tax Practitioner’s Marketing Toolkit to help you make sense of changes and engage your clients.
The past year has made for a busy season you’re probably relieved to see coming to a close. But before you break the snorkel and dive mask out of mothballs, or start browsing for the perfect vacation destination, take a good look back to assess your season while it’s fresh in your mind. How much of your work involved looking ahead for your clients? While helping them with tax planning for the coming year, how often did you run across their broader plans for the future? You might be surprised by how your answer can propel your firm to greatness.
When my father-in-law passed away, my mother-in-law moved in with my wife, daughter and me. Less than a year later she was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. Just a few short years later, she too passed, leaving my wife as executor with a potentially nightmarish job ahead of her. But mom left us a secret weapon: her CPA.
By coordinating with a team that included a lawyer and an investment adviser, her CPA set things in motion, doing everything but literally handholding my wife through the emotional, confusing maelstrom that builds after the loss of a loved one. The estate was settled without incident, all business completed and bequeathals distributed. The job he did was so thorough that my wife retained his counsel for our retirement planning.
My story is just one scenario, one in which a CPA partnered with other professionals to act as the single point of contact for all his client’s financial needs. Believe me, we couldn’t stop singing his praises. Increasingly, clients are expecting this kind of service. And if they don’t get it from their CPA, they might find it somewhere else. That’s good news, because it means CPA tax practitioners are in a perfect position to propel their firms to greatness by securing their clients’ financial futures and securing their loyalty for years to come. So how can you benefit? You have multiple options.
Team up for success
If you work alone or have a small firm, hiring professionals to handle many of the financial planning tasks your clients require might not be realistic. While as a CPA you are already qualified to do most of these tasks, there is the very real element of not having enough hours in the day.
Partnering is the strategy my wife’s CPA used. He had a network of professionals ready to handle each of the things we had to deal with, and he coordinated all of it. He consulted with the lawyer and the investment adviser to make certain our needs were addressed. He saved us dozens, if not hundreds of phone calls and in-person meetings, and made a very stressful time so much easier.
Enhance your own expertise
It is likely you already provide some level of financial planning services to your clients, in the form of tax, retirement and estate planning. Is that service one you discuss with them actively? Are you asking questions about their plans for the future and what they need to make them happen? Most importantly, are you calling yourself a “CPA Financial Planner?” If not, you should. Because the simplest thing you can do to enhance your own expertise is to communicate about it. You can find resources to help you do this and more by visiting our Planning and Tax Advisory Services webpage.
If you want to demonstrate even greater ability and deepen your commitment to your clients’ needs, you can choose among the personal financial planning certificates to develop one or more areas. The program awards digital badges you can use to showcase your expertise across the web, social media and your email. You can even choose to pursue all of the certificates, which will help qualify you for your ultimate option:
Pursue the PFS credential
By adding the PFS credential, you’re telling your clients that in addition to having mastered the rigors of the CPA, you hold the only planning credential that requires its holders to be subject to the rigorous ethical and quality standards of a CPA. It’s a claim no other financial planning professional can make, and it qualifies you to personally handle the myriad complex financial planning tasks that your clients so often find confounding.
With tax season nearly behind you, it’s the perfect time to do some planning for yourself and your business. Ensure you’ll retain your current clients by expanding your services and making certain they know about it. Attract new clients with the promise of simplifying their finances and planning needs. Take your practice into the stratosphere and embrace greatness. It’s just a matter of making up your mind to do it.