President Perceptive Business Solutions Inc.
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Using the SECURE Act to Market Services During Tax Time

What’s worse than crunch time at tax season? How about a new set of tax rules that took effect on January 1, also known as the SECURE Act? Since this affects clients and they're likely not aware of it, it's up to you to tell them. And yes, there’s a marketing opportunity in there somewhere.

Feb 19th 2020
President Perceptive Business Solutions Inc.
Columnist
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What’s worse than crunch time at tax season? How about a new set of tax rules that took effect on January 1, also known as the SECURE Act? Since this affects clients and they're likely not aware of it, it's up to you to tell them. And yes, there’s a marketing opportunity in there somewhere.

A primary concept in marketing is the first mover advantage. You’ve seen certain products capture the market and thought, “There’s nothing new.  They’ve just explained it differently.” Take Peloton, for instance: According to Business Insider, Peloton has sold 400,000 exercise bikes, has a million members and is worth $ 4 billion. It started in 2012. But exercise bikes have been around for years.

The SECURE Act can be your Peloton, especially during tax season. Understanding and explaining the it might get you new individual clients immediately and strengthen bonds with your current ones. It can confirm why they pay you to file their taxes.

First, here's what you need to know about this piece of legislation.

It’s officially known as the “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement” Act. It came into effect on January 1, 2020. I've provided some highlights to be aware of:

  • Age Raised for Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) from Retirement Plans: It was 70½. Now, it’s 72. This has immediate benefits for clients. If you have clients who are financially comfortable, they may want to keep that money tax deferred as long as possible. Break the good news to them. They likely socialize with a crowd of the same age. Who else needs to learn about this change? Once they put you in touch, ask: “Has their accountant told them?” If they have enough money to not want additional income, they are probably not doing their own taxes.
  • Age Threshold Removed for Retirement Plan Contributions: The age cap for making traditional IRA contributions was 70 ½. Now, it’s gone. You have healthy clients in their 70’s, still hard at work. Maybe they run their own business. They are always looking for ways to reduce their taxable income. Now they can keep making those IRA contributions for the foreseeable future. They can also put money aside for a spousal IRA. Tell them they can reduce their taxable income (with your help, of course).
  • Non-Spousal Beneficiaries of ROTH IRAs Must Take Distribution of Inherited Assets within 10 Years: This is a big negative for people having taken advantage of stretch IRAs. Kiplinger recommends the account owner reconsider naming their spouse as the account beneficiary. Previously, it was smart to name a younger person. Naming your spouse bypasses the 10-year withdrawal requirement. Even if they are subject to RMDs, the amount is likely to be less than a non-spousal beneficiary would need to withdraw over time. When the rules change, someone needs to tell taxpayers how they should react. For your clients, that’s you. It shows you understand their situation and have their interests in mind.

There are several other provisions of the SECURE Act you should discuss with your clients, including long-term, part-time employees, who are able to participate in company 401(k) plans. Small businesses can join together for retirement savings plans, and annuities can be included in these. 

Now, to the marketing opportunity: Even though it's tax season, there's still some low-key marketing you can do. These are ideal projects for interns or staffers who aren't directly preparing returns:

  • Client Segmentation: These changes affect some clients more than others. You want to be in the position of acting, not reacting. You want to know who will benefit versus figuring it out on the fly as clients submit their documentation. Who benefits from the three changes listed above? Older clients. Since part-time “gig economy” workers will benefit, build that list, too.
  • Planning: Some changes mean they should take action now, before they put their paperwork in your hands. You have a reason to call. You can send an e-mail or text, asking them to get in touch. It shows you understand their situation. Some clients will get a call from you.
  • e-Newsletter: You are used to reading about tax laws and digesting the details. It’s Latin to most people. They glaze over. If you have an e-newsletter, this is an ideal way to spoon feed it out, a little at a time. Encourage clients and prospects to call with questions. Suggest they forward it to their friends. It puts your name in front of them.  
  • Advertisement: We are back to the first mover advantage. If you don’t, another neighborhood accountant will. Our local paper has a 6x9 ad addressing what the SECURE Act means to you. Retired people have time on their hands. They read.
  • LinkedIn Article: Put the SECURE Act into 500 words, and add an attention-getting photo. Post your article to LinkedIn. This helps get your story out to your first-level connections. Do you belong to groups? Post it there. Encourage connections to share your article. Hopefully people comment. They ask questions. See that each one gets a response.

You are busy, but don't forget to do some marketing this tax season. There's no need to try to take on everything yourself, either. You can delegate! Assume someone else is competing for your client’s attention, and act accordingly. After all, didn’t everyone already own an exercise bike before Peloton came along?

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