Another key reason for an CPA-FA
partnership, according to Stolz: “The
last thing an advisor wants is for their
client’s CPA to tell them that your
investments have caused a big tax bill.
And the last thing a CPA wants” is to say
“why didn’t you call me before you made
Here are some best practices for advi-
sors looking to partner with CPAs:
1 “Have — at a minimum — a work- ing knowledge of the tax rules,”Levine said.
2 “Look for somebody [you] can con- nect with because you’re buildinga relationship with the CPA and it’s justlike building a relationship with yourclient,” according to Peterson.
3 Make sure to “work with a CPA that is a good communicator, and alsocan discuss investment topics with agood level of understanding,” Stolz said.
4 “Start with the client’s tax returns,” Slott said. “Any good financial advisor is probably looking at their client’stax return and on every tax return it hasthe name of the accountant.” You shouldcontact that accountant and request ameeting to discuss the client and ask:“What can we do better?”
5 Say the “magic words” when you call your client’s CPA: ‘We have amutual client.’”
6 Consider inviting a CPA to speak at a conference or seminar on atopic in which they are an expert.“CPAs love education. They love goingto” continuing education seminars,where they can get free CE credits,Slott said. A lot of these are conductedonline now, so you can invite CPAsfrom across the U.S., he noted, suggesting you hold such events regularly.
7 CPAs like it if an advisor shares resources and new info theylearn that may be of interest to them.“They’ll remember you sent it tothem,” Slott said.
8 Consider visiting CPAs’ offices around tax season and provide bagsof goodies including food because it’soften hard for accountants to get awayfor lunch as the tax deadline approaches, Slott noted.
9During tax season, CPAs often eed info from advisors on certain investments in a limited amountof time. As an advisor, “the faster youcan respond when they need you” thebetter, and CPAs will remember that,Slott said, noting: “Clients are alwaysmissing something and it’s usually someinvestment-related item that the financial advisor has access to.”
10 “Focus on providing the CPA value, not on getting referrals,”Levine noted. “If you do the former, thelatter will happen naturally.”
11 Ask CPAs “how they would pre- fer to work with advisors, and ifthey haven’t/don’t ask why such partnerships haven’t materialized/workedout in the past,” Levine added.
THE DON’ TS
1 During tax season, if a CPA calls you and says he or she needs investmentinfo for a mutual client, don’t wait aweek or more to call back. By then, theCPA “could have done a hundred morereturns [and may not] even rememberwhat the question was,” Slott said.
2Don’t invite a CPA to speak at a seminar who is “really a salesmanin disguise,” Slott said.
3 Don’t do anything not mutually beneficial to you, the CPA and theclient. “If it’s not good for everybody,it’s not good for anybody,” Slott said.“It has to be good for the accountant,for the advisor and most importantlythe client.”
4 Avoid CPAs who are tough to work with. Don’t continue working withan accountant is if he or she “shootsdown every good planning idea … Asan advisor, you only want to work withaccountants that are open to new planning ideas,” Slott said.
5Don’t reach out to CPAs for the first time during tax season.“It’s just annoying” to try to makean appointment in March, Slott said.But Levine added: “For a lot of taxpros — especially those who cater tohigh-net-worth and/or high incomeclients who are more likely to haveK-1s — the periods of time leading upto the September 15 and October 15extended filing deadlines can be justas busy. Other busier times can includethe weeks leading up to quarterly estimates and around year-end.”
6Don’t tell a client their CPA is wrong or otherwise disparage theCPA, Levine said. “Differences of opinion … are possible, but bad-mouthing theCPA to your client — and having it getback to the CPA — is a quick way to geton their persona non grata list.”
7Don’t expect an “instant flood of referrals,” Levinesaid.
8Don’t think that getting a CPA to partner with you will be an easyor quick process. “It takes time, butthe rewards are well worth the effort,”Levine said. “Keep the door open longenough, and eventually you get thechance to walk through.”
Jeff Berman can be reached at email@example.com.