My husband and I had our taxes prepared recently by the same guy who did them last year. He’s not a CPA, but he’s up to date on the tax laws, he’s friendly and personable, and last year he asked thoughtful questions about our entire financial life – not in order to hard-sell us anything, but, I suspect, to cultivate a greater level of trust. In short, he’s become our financial advisor.

With access to our entire financial life, he spent nearly an hour helping us see the bigger picture. During the course of our conversation, he convinced us to open 529 plans for our twins’ college fund, update our will, rebalance our 401(k) portfolios and renegotiate our term life insurance since rates have dropped since we first bought the coverage four years ago.

Since we live on a relatively modest income and don’t have extra money to invest, our tax preparer is the only financial professional we come into contact with on any regular basis, and we were both impressed by his willingness and eagerness to help us order our affairs.

He also remembered key personal details about our lives, including that we have twin daughters, that I write about tax and accounting professionals for a living, and that my husband loves to fish. That kind of attention to detail resonates with middle-class couples like us who aren’t used to such extravagant customer service treatment.

But it should serve as a lesson for all professional service providers. Customers like to feel that the professionals they hire – especially concerning their financial lives – truly care about them and their goals. We may not have a lot of disposable income today, but as baby boomers with aging parents, it’s possible we may inherit quite a bit of money in the near future. And our careers are still in the ascending part of the arc, and we may one day earn significantly more than we do now. If and when we do, who do you think we’ll turn to for guidance and advice?

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