A Conversation With Barry Goldwater: Accountants as Wealth Management Providers

In two years, it is predicted that 50% of all CPA’s will be licensed to sell some type of financial product. What are some of the reasons behind this trend to financial services? Why would the profession that is synonymous with being the pillar of financial objectivity now suggest that they would consider selling a product solution for a commission? You are a CPA firm that wants to expand your platform, how do you decide if you will deliver financial services or wealth management and will you in-source the business, co-source the business or continue to out-source the business? How do you build a team that addresses your wealth management mission statement in the style your firm’s reputation was built on so that you can capture more revenue and service the expanding needs and expectations of your best clients?

All this being said, the majority of CPA traditionalists still believe that the perception of selling a product to their clients compromises their objectivity. If a CPA says, “You need insurance, I can sell you that,” then in fact, that perception would be accurate. But by adopting a team approach to delivering client financial services with alliance partners who are experts in their field, you now alter the traditional way a CPA addresses client needs and a new CPA paradigm starts to develop.

More and more of the top tier accounting firms and CPA practices are incorporating financial services into their traditional business models. It’s not that CPAs of these firms weren’t using insurance, pensions, estate planning and investment methodology before, swapping referrals with other financial professionals and getting paid under the table. But this recent expansion is being fueled for three reasons:

*the desire to capture the lost revenue and bring it back into the firm

*accounting talent is not keeping pace with demand

*clients are asking CPAs to review their insurance, pension and investment plans

When CPA’s form strategic alliances with expert insurance and investment professionals, three things happen:

*Client services are expanded and more fee revenue is derived from existing clients

*Consultative business planning is done as a team

*New business development and referral sources increase dramatically

So if this is true, why is it so difficult to form these professional partnerships and achieve more dynamic success for CPA firms wanting to adopt a multiple disciplinary practice? The answer is in the way we are trained to do our respective business. Accountants do not get educated with how to market and sell--and sales people are mostly transactional which goes directly against the consultative grain of a CPA. Sales people take their commission and disappear and CPAs are deathly afraid (rightfully so) that some sales person will mess up in one hour a relationship that may have taken years to cultivate. Sales people have answers for everything and CPAs are trained to spot problems. On the surface, there is incompatibility but in reality our professions are much more closely aligned. In my next installment, I will discuss how to create professional alliances, the road to a wealth management mission statement and conversations CPA clients really want to have with their CPAs.

About Barry Goldwater
Barry Goldwater is the Principal of the Financial Resource Group and a 20-year veteran of the insurance industry. He focuses not only on working with the business and affluent clients of CPA's and attorneys, but also in helping CPA's form and develop a business model to include financial services. His expertise lies with using insurance and tax deductible solutions and their applications in the areas of Business Planning, Pensions, Retirement Protection Planning and Wealth Transfer Planning. He is an insurance specialist who is a member of the Bisys Exceptional Producer Group, the New York and Boston Chapters of the Estate Planning Council and he currently sits on the board of the Society of Financial Service Professionals. He can be reached at 617-527-9736 or barry@frg-creative.com. His web sites are www.frg-creative.com and www.goldwaterfinancial.net.

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