If a successful client is doing well, staying on top of their money probably isn’t high on their priority list. Rather, other financial professionals are competing for that slot. Here’s why you should lead their financial team and be paid for it.
Who’s My Competition?
Years ago, bankers made loans, stockbrokers sold stock and insurance agents sold insurance. Today, everyone is trying to get a piece of the other guy’s business. Your objective? Increasing your firm’s “share of wallet.”
The logic starts with the assumption your client likes you. They would probably buy more financial services from you if they knew you offered them.
You’re competing with other professionals who want to put themselves in the position of “the first call.” When a client has a problem or an issue involving money, who is their “go-to” person? This individual is the quarterback or team leader, determining what gets handled in house and what gets farmed out to other service providers.
6 Reasons You Should Be the Client’s First Call
- Ultimately, everything comes down to taxes.
Your client buys and sells stocks. They own rental property. They seek to minimize the taxes they pay today. They want a secure retirement. They want to eventually to lower their estate taxes.
Rationale: You are the tax professional. Financial planners, insurance agents and financial advisors are usually prohibited from offering tax advice by their firm, but providing this guidance is your primary business.
- You can help if they get audited.
Everyone’s greatest fear is coming to the attention of the IRS. You’ve seen those late-night TV ads: “Is the IRS garnishing your paycheck? We can help.” Suppose your client invests, loses a substantial amount of money and blames their financial advisor. They need to initiate legal action against the professional and the firm and are in an adversarial position.
Rationale: As their accountant, you are on the same side of the table as your client. If the IRS has an issue with their taxes, you can act as the intermediary on their behalf. Think back to the example of the client with an issue with their financial advisor: If you are the team leader, you would likely see signs the professional was overtrading and let your customer know they should start complaining now.
- You already have a fiduciary relationship.
The above point leads into the fiduciary relationship you have with your client. You’re already aware of their financial situation, which is a tremendous incentive to make a case as to why your product offers the best solution. If you don’t tell your client about other products, they may never be aware you offer them.
Rationale: As the person getting the first call, you can take a broader view of the problem and possible solutions. There might be a no-load option from a third-party firm. If the financial advisor is suggesting mutual funds as the solution, you might feel Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) would also be a good fit. They could buy them from the same advisor, but the costs to the client should be lower.
- You can tell them what they’re paying for.
People who are paid on commission don’t have a huge incentive to explain different layers of fees. As a result, many people don’t know what they are paying in direct and indirect costs. They may not know if they are getting a complete answer.
Rationale: You are providing advice for a fee. One of the skills your client is buying is experience. You know what certain products cost in terms of fees. If not, you can find the information easily enough, which is valuable to customers.
- You have extensive training.
The public often considers financial advisors and insurance agents as salespeople: They may be well trained, but they are paid based on how much they sell. On the other hand, accountants are considered professionals, part of a higher calling. They deliver a service, charge for their time and are objective.
Rationale: People want the best. Accountants are often considered in the same category as doctors and lawyers: Professionals requiring considerable education and rigorous licensing.
- They may want to sell the business someday.
The wealth of a successful business owner is often tied up in the company itself. They don’t get a big payout until they sell. From the point of view of a financial advisor or insurance agent, that is done by an entirely different professional who is usually not affiliated with their firm. Business valuation and preparing a company for sale are skills accountants have.
Rationale: You should be the team leader because you will be involved when they eventually decide it’s time to sell the business. You can help them take the necessary steps to get ready.
There are challenges you will encounter when you position yourself as team leader. You are paid for your advice, so you will need to explain this to your client and establish a procedure where they don’t feel like a taxi meter is running whenever they call with a question. However, it will benefit you as the accounting professional and your customers for you to be at the head of the financial team.