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Talk to your clients about the cliff

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By Art Kuesel
October 15, 2012

You may now have the best excuse in recent history to meet with your clients about year-end planning. As you know, the fiscal cliff widely covered in the media is a combination of expiring tax cuts, changes in treatment of income, rate changes, and so much more—and it is all set to change on January 1.

While the likelihood is great that some of the items bundled in the fiscal cliff will change, it is also likely that some of them will stick. And, for your clients in the “high net worth” bucket, the components that change or stick could mean significant tax exposure.

One school of thought is that because there is so much uncertainty about the election, we all just need to take a “wait and see” approach. While I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, I believe someone will win and they will attempt to make some changes…or keep things the same. Either way, your clients need you to explain what a few different scenarios may mean to them, so you can put some contingency plans in place.

Even if you feel like the differences in scenarios and plans are relatively negligible in nature, there will be residual value to your outreach. First, clients will greatly appreciate your proactive nature, even if they have no interest in discussing the topic. Remember, just thinking about the client isn’t enough – they have to KNOW you’re thinking about them. A key complaint among clients is that their accounting firm is not proactive, and this certainly addresses that issue.

Second, if your meetings and discussions deliver value to your clients, you should be able to bill for your time. If the client is more interested in talking about their favorite football team, you will have had the opportunity to build the relationship. You may uncover additional challenges with their business or opportunities to help. All of these scenarios are favorable; getting in front of clients to talk usually brings a multitude of benefits.

Finally, if one of your scenarios generates extra work, you will have demonstrated that you are more than just a compliance provider—you are a trusted advisor looking out for the best interests of your client. You will also have increased your billings for the client, and you will have increased your retention rate for that client (more services = greater retention). In today’s super competitive environment, growing your current client revenue stream is markedly easier than trying to find new clients.

It’s clear there are many benefits to talking to your clients about the fiscal cliff, so now go do it. Create a list of 25 clients that you will personally reach out to between now and the end of November and suggest a meeting to discuss the implications of the fiscal cliff. Talking to your clients is probably the easiest of all marketing activities, so I don’t want to hear any excuses. I’d be greatly surprised if you didn’t receive a significant tangible and intangible return on your investment through this simple, but valuable, exercise. Good luck!

As the director of practice growth and marketing consulting services at Koltin Consulting Group, Art Kuesel helps firms grow and add millions of dollars of revenue to their top lines. Reach Art at 312-662-6010 or akuesel@koltin.com.

 

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