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5 Tips for Building Your Financial Planning Practice

PFP blogCPA financial planners are always looking for ways to help clients and their extended families realize their dreams and provide for future generations.

There are plenty of financial advisors in the marketplace, but not nearly as many as there are CPAs who work with individual clients and understand their needs from a tax and accounting perspective. That’s the edge we have that makes a difference. CPAs are well positioned to offer holistic financial planning services – ranging from traditional tax and estate planning to retirement, investment and risk management planning.

Last month, as part of the AICPA’s PFP Section’s CPA Financial Planning Thought Leadership series, I moderated the webcast, “Outlook for the Financial Planning Profession.” Panelists shared their perspectives on trends that affect their clients and the CPA financial planning profession, as well as how they integrate financial planning into their firms. While there are many different approaches that can be successful in this area, the key is to focus on your clients and what you do best for them.

We discussed a number of topics during the webcast and are now providing the following tips to help CPAs build their financial planning practices. How many of these resonate with you? 

1)      Take a Holistic Planning Approach

Your clients have worked hard for the wealth they’ve accumulated. They are coming to you for information and advice and it’s your job to help them understand and take advantage of their financial independence. Explain to them the opportunities they can bring themselves and their benefactors and target a relationship that works toward their long-term goals.

2)      Articulate how Your CPA Credential Creates the Foundation for Your Practice

Your CPA credential opens the door for you to explain to prospects how your financial planning services differentiate you in the market. The number of CPAs working in financial planning is growing at twice the rate of the traditional accounting profession, so it’s clear that our services are in demand. Use your CPA to promote your strengths and help clients understand why our profession is so unique.

3)      Make True Wealth Management Your Forte

Only about 6% of people claiming to be wealth managers are actually providing the full range of services that are typically considered wealth management, giving the CPA an enormous opportunity to educate and provide value to the client. To be a “true” wealth manager, you build a business model that’s client-centered. You have to figure out where your clients are financially, then define their goals and consistently work with them through long-term planning to accomplish those goals.

4)      Find Clients Who Fit Your Niche

If you are going to find your niche in financial planning, it’s far easier to find clients who are a best fit for your practice and your services than taking on clients who need other kinds of accounting services, but not necessarily financial planning. Do this by first developing a profile of the ideal clients with which you want to work, looking at ages and demographics as well as complexity of situations or circumstances. Then, build a boutique practice where you develop very deep relationships with clients who fit those profiles. Be very selective and challenge yourself by starting with top tier clients, who have more complicated financial lives, where your skillsets are best leveraged.

5)      Develop Relationships with Key Influencers

Having another trusted adviser refer you to potential clients is the best way to develop new business.  To make those referrals happen, you need to find the right centers of influence-- fellow CPAs who have a different skillset from you, attorneys, business consultants and bankers. They can provide an incredible source of business and power your practice. Search for, and develop a strong relationship with, professionals in your area and around the country. Work with them on your team and keep them in the loop.

Want to Learn More?

Access the free webcast recordings and presentation materials from the AICPA PFP Section’s Thought Leadership Series featuring forward-thinking from CPA financial planners advising their clients in tax, estate, retirement, risk management and investments.

Lyle Benson, CPA/PFS, CFP®, President and Founder, L.K. Benson & Company. Based in Baltimore, Lyle’s firm specializes in personal financial planning, tax and investment advisory services for high income individuals and families, as well as corporate executives and entrepreneurial, closely held business owners across the country. Lyle is chair of the AICPA’s PFP Executive Committee.

Couple receiving financial advice image from Shutterstock


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