The Most Important Conversation Every CPA Should Have With Their Client
We had a topic come up in one of my Platinum Mastermind coaching calls that I would like to share with you. This call was about the most important conversation every CPA should have with their client – the four planning pillars.
If you do not know your client’s four planning pillars, then how can you properly do any kind of tax planning for them? How can you give them any advice when you don’t know their goals?
The Four Planning Pillars
The four planning pillars are simply your client’s business plan, wealth plan, retirement plan, and estate plan. Specifically, we’re talking about business owners here. Now, if you’re working with just individual clients, you could switch it and call it an income plan – income plan, wealth plan, retirement plan, estate plan.
What I show professional CPA firms to do in the Accountant Success Formula is get away from doing personal taxes only. Your goal is to work with owners, managers, and businesses. That’s where the real value can be extracted because you can get involved in setting up a business and corporate structures. This provides you with more revenue model opportunities to deal with.
Think about these four planning pillars. You start by having a conversation with the client about their business and where their business it’s going. As their business grows, they gain income for their lifestyle, which feeds into their wealth.
What is their strategy for growing their wealth? Is the money being saved in a holding company? Is a part of that wealth going to be accumulated in the business? Is it going into a tax-free savings account? You really want to understand their suggested strategy.
Is there a pension plan set up through their business? As wealth builds, it naturally leads to the question, “When will you retire?” You need to know how much wealth you need to grow to know when you’re going to retire and how much income you’re going to have for retirement. There are many questions you want to ask them about the retirement plan.
Then finally, the estate plan, meaning when you pass away, who do you want to leave your wealth to? Is the next generation your children? What are you going to do with your business?
These are essential things for you to know. Unless you know those four plans and clearly understand where they’re going with their life, how can you give them tax planning advice? It’s impossible!
Client’s #1 Trusted Advisor
When you have the four planning pillars conversations, it’s great to work off of a template to make sure you thoroughly cover all the questions you need to be answered. You want a complete list of topics that will make the client stop and say, “Oh my gosh, I never even thought about that!”
When you have this conversation with them, they will be amazed because they will likely never have had an accountant ask them that question before. You’re now positioning yourself as their number one trusted advisor from this point forward.
As their number one trusted advisor, you can work with them and their other advisors — their lawyer, their financial advisor, their banker, their insurance person– to ensure that those four pining pillars are in alignment. Ultimately, that’s what clients are looking for. They’re looking for you to help them get to their destination. They’re looking for you to help them build the life that they want for themselves. Not just bang out tax returns. They want you to help them build their life and help them reach their goals.
If you’re interested in learning more about the most important conversation every CPA should have with their client, please reach out. I’d love to talk with you to see if I could help you with your accounting practice.
I’m Erik Solbakken, reminding you that when you take back control of your business model, you can take back control of your life. Stay tuned for more success tips.