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Integrating Retirement Planning with Your CPA Practice

Social-securityWhat do the 77 million baby boomers have in common over the next 15 years? They are all going to face retirement in one form or another. Never before in U.S. history has such a large generation transitioned to retirement with so many years still ahead of them. Are they ready? Can they afford it?  What does it look like? Who will answer these and other questions they have? Who else but the CPA has the financial, economic and analytical education, and ability coupled with the highest ethical standards of placing objectivity and integrity at the forefront of all advice. CPAs have a huge opportunity to expand their practices into the area of retirement planning as the natural progression from guiding their clients through the accumulation years.

CPAs everywhere are asked Social Security and Medicare questions by their clients. In addition, the passing of the American Taxpayer Relief Act has made taxation in the retirement years as complex as taxation in the working years. Among the key areas in which individuals need guidance are:
  • General tax guidance to ensure the most tax efficient retirement planning game plan is in place
  • Withdrawal strategies (with tax as the basis) to assure that retirees will not outlive their money and continue to maintain the lifestyle to which they are accustomed
  • Budgeting and cash flow projections
  • Debt maintenance and asset preservation
  • Portfolio management, including ensuring proper asset allocation and diversification based on risk tolerance
  • Social Security, Medicare and health care

This advice is in high demand by retirees and soon-to-be retirees, and CPAs have the necessary skills to provide the guidance boomers need as they move toward retirement.

Social Security and Medicare, as examples, are so important yet there is not one profession geared to providing overall guidance in these areas.  The CPA is the logical choice for the public to turn to.  Materials to help you become the expert and position yourself as the trusted personal adviser to your clients and prospects have been developed by the AICPA PFP Division.  See The CPA’s Guide to Social Security Planning and The CPA’s Guide to Financing Retirement Healthcare. I also suggest using the Personal Finance Report Card, From Client Tax Returns to Value Added Planning and other free resources to guide you in serving your clients in this area.

The finance world is very complex today and the public is bombarded with information.  The CPA’s expertise to sift through the noise and develop sound financial guidance is appreciated and respected. Let’s stand up to the challenge so that when the public is asked what a CPA does, they will respond with “help me retire” along with tax planning and preparation, and financial advice.

Ted Sarenski, CPA/PFS, President & CEO, Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, LLC. Ted serves on the AICPA’s Advanced Personal Financial Planning Conference Committee and Financial Literacy Commission, in addition to chairing the AICPA Personal Financial Planning Executive Committee’s Elder Planning Task Force. 

Social Security image via Shutterstock

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