The Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs (PICPA) recently rolled out an innovative program designed to help accountants promote their services beyond the April 15th deadline for personal income tax returns.
As part of the program, PICPA makes available on its website a simple quiz on personal finance that was used in a Harris poll for the National Council of Economic Education. The Harris poll showed an alarming number of Americans flunked the quiz, prompting financial leaders such as Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill to call for a national education initiative on financial basics for all Americans.
To help with the education initiative, PICPA publishes an electronic monthly newsletter called "Financial Fitness." Topics covered in the newsletter include income tax planning, education funding, asset allocation and portfolio diversification, retirement planning, cash management and budgeting, and estate planning. A few special issues are targeted to specific readers, such as small business owners.
Other resources available to individuals include an "Ask a CPA" program that allows potential clients to sign up for the newsletter and submit questions to highly qualified CPAs, a "CPA Locator" searchable database of more than 1,800 CPA firms, and a free checklist to help individuals prepare for a professional consultation.
"Taking a serious look at your financial situation shouldn't end on April 15 when you file your income tax returns," says Glenn Meyer, CPA, PFS, of Jenkintown, Pa., and chairperson of PICPA's Estate and Personal Financial Planning Committee. "Planning for a secure financial future is a year-round, step-by-step process that requires basic financial literacy, a sound financial plan, and discipline. Seeking the help of a qualified financial services professional such as a CPA is one step in the right direction towards a secure financial future."