Session Moderator: Thank you all for joining us today. We are happy to welcome Tony Cord to the AccountingWEB workshop room.
Mr. Cord has experience in both the accounting profession and the financial services industry. As a result, he has a deep appreciation and understanding of CPA firm culture, economics, client-focus and historic opportunities arising now as the two intersect. He currently leads 1st Global's national partnership development programs, with emphasis on helping large CPA practices build and manage robust new profit centers around wealth care services.
Mr. Cord holds an MBA finance degree from Southern Illinois University and performed his undergraduate studies in economics and business at Davidson College and the University of Maryland. In 1990 he was honored to be an Ernst & Young/Inc. Magazine "Entrepreneur of the Year" nominee. Tony is the author of The Advisory Board Guide for Small Businesses, has had his articles featured in various industry publications and has appeared on numerous business radio and television programs.
Welcome Tony - the floor is yours!
Tony Cord: Hi everyone. Please help me shape my remarks by first asking you to post questions anytime, including now.
I see most multi-partner firms facing mounting pressures - pressure to provide more value to clients, better career opportunities for staff and partners and pressure on the old core accounting/audit and tax businesses. Financial services provide a very favorable platform to address these pressures successfully - but how?
That's my planned focus for today's workshop. that is, to share how multi-partner firms can deal with key issues and realize success in the arena we at 1st Global call "wealth care"...
First, wealth care services add more value for clients by providing simplicity (one stop shopping) for busy business owners and successful people in general and by helping them quantify goals and issues using an holistic, or comprehensive approach that is focused on advice, not transactions (which can often be the case, unfortunately, in the 'traditional" financial services arena). Second, creating a wealth care enterprise may actually rejuvenate partners and staff who've grown tired of the "same ole"... Third, wealth care services can add significant new sources of net income and possibly asset value, depending on how you wish to enter the business.
Session Moderator: Can you give us a general definition of wealth care services?
Tony Cord: Sure. We think of wealth care as embracing a comprehensive financial planning process as the way to determine client needs, goals, hopes and dreams and then to provide a strategy and solutions for achieving the goals. A comprehensive plan looks at the client's entire situation. Solutions and implementation choices usually can be divided into four areas: assets under management; securities brokerage; insurance brokerage; and retirement planning.
Session Moderator: So where do you start?
Tony Cord: A multi-partner firm should start with a decision. Do we want to add value to our existing client relationships by entering financial services? If so, how? And what are our concerns?
All this is usually magnified in a multi-partner firm. Do these concerns strike a chord? With 1st Global, CPA firms maintain their independence by working WITH 1st Global, not FOR us. They maintain objectivity with the ability to offer multiple solutions to fit any client need - without bias toward a particular product.
1st Global is independent - our CPA firm affiliates (I refer to them as our partners) have access to over 80 money managers, 12,000 mutual funds and over 259 insurance carriers.
My point is this: there are a number of ways to enter financial services - I'll describe the models in the marketplace during our discussion today - you as a CPA need to be comfortable with this independence/objectivity concern or you'll never start, thus short-changing your client from receiving added value.
Session Moderator: So if I've got a client with some wealth management needs, what kinds of questions should I ask to get the client interested in coming to me for this service?
Tony Cord: First, as the CPA, you have the enviable position of being the gatekeeper and advocate for your client. If you've taken the client through the holistic PROCESS of financial planning, you've added value and are in a strong position to advise the client (as part of the overall plan) to place assets under management. You will have set the stage by telling all your clients (once you've decided to enter the business) that your firm can assist them with their wealth care needs.
Tom Palka: What response do you have to accounting professionals claiming conflicts of interest for the client?
Tony Cord: I think the CPA is in a strong position of integrity and, rather than refer the client out to a traditional financial services person, and lose control to someone often trained to focus only on products and transactions is a disservice to the client.
Session Moderator: Good point.
Tony Cord: I would much rather the client have someone whose value system is focused on client relationships (the CPA) than someone focused on a product. Many CPAs struggle with fees vs. commissions. At 1st Global we think the CPA and the client should choose the form of compensation that best suits the client. The myth is that fee-only is the way to stay objective... The truth is, CPAs have a strong set of values that aren't going to be corrupted by the way they're compensated for offering wealth care services. Bottom line? We are proponents of CHOICES for clients.
Be sure to check your state's position on accepting commissions. There are a very few who have not yet changed their regulations.
I want to get to a key question multi-partner firms need to ask themselves: Do we want to work in the wealth care business or do we want to own it?
It's important because many organizations are out there with all kinds of come-ons. But that's the core issue. For many years, there was no alternative to getting licensed, trained and leaping INTO the wealth care business. Most who've tried enjoy a modest amount of success. MODEST. Reality is, the constraints of time, staff, and capital to startup - not to mention developing the skill set necessary to offer a discretionary service (the "Louisville Slugger" of the IRS isn't part of this services marketing plan). Plus the constraint of time required to become a competent wealth care advisor.
Here's the news flash. Since we are focused on helping CPAs capture the wealth care opportunity, we've developed a revolutionary way to leverage the CPA time, staff and relationship that offers CPAs a NEW choice for entering the financial services business.
The platform is called Business Management services - our full support service. Check it out. It is turnkey in nature and 600% more productive than the other existing platforms.
Session Moderator: We are almost out of time - are there any questions for Tony?
Tony Cord: Here's to the CPA profession leading financial services (wealth care, right?) into the 21st century!
Session Moderator: Thank you to everyone for attending today - and thanks so much Tony for a very informative workshop!
Tony Cord: Thanks to members of the accounting community for your interest. And to the AccountingWEB team - keep up your innovative work. Tony.
Workshop sponsored by: FixedAssetInfo.com