Responding to our editor
I think you are getting close to hitting the nail on the head ("Sell what they're buying," October, page 3). At least until you got to the solution about becoming the chief financial officer.
While that might work in many cases, the majority of small businesses think they, as owners, possess this divine knowledge. Having served as the CFO both inside and outside businesses, you are still viewed as someone they call when a problem arises and have a question. If you're lucky, you may even spot a problem before it becomes fatal, but all too often that too becomes problematic.
To show how out of touch we are with our clients, the current leader of our national trade organization was once quoted several years ago saying (in your publication, I believe) that he would not take on a new client unless he was immediately accepted as the client's most trusted advisor. This, of course, is nonsense and clearly demonstrates the arrogance unfortunately found throughout our profession.
While a few new clients may immediately roll over, the very large majority will make the determination of how much to accept us as it is earned.
I doubt many will ever say how much they love their accountant, unless it happens to also be their mate or significant other ... .
Tone, Walling & Meador LLP
Thousand Oaks, Calif.
I agree we need to sell value-added services to clients that can afford them ("Sell what they're buying," October, page 3) and I already attempt to do a lot of the stuff that the article by Dan Hood is saying to do.
However, he's missing something that I see is a growing trend: Tax preparation and consulting are exploding and very lucrative for qualified CPAs. Yes, clients don't care about a tax return, but I disagree there's a threat from technology competition, and let me elaborate.
The self-preparation industry, technology and online software have been a bonus for me. I'm seeing more major blunders than ever before, with huge tax notices going out on the federal, state and local levels.† †I charge a premium fee on CP2000s for non-clients off the street which are being generated at an unprecedented rate by the IRS. I love when these people come in off the street -- the first thing I do is make them sign an engagement letter and take their credit card information; if not, I send them away and wish them good luck with their notice.
The self-prepared LLCs are a complete disaster, especially when it comes time to sell the underlying business or assets -- BANG: huge opportunity for the consulting CPA who has to clean up the mess. If the new client doesn't want to pay? So long, see ya later ... good luck getting that sale financed.
Have you had a client attempt to get a loan lately? A business loan or mortgage requires huge amounts of verification from third parties since the financial crisis of 2008 and mortgage fiasco of the early 2000s -- BANG: huge opportunity for the consulting CPA.
A friend of mine is an auditor at the IRS; she tells me that she has 20 business audits on her desk on any given day and many adjustments are big. I don't see this trend decreasing and actually I see more work coming for CPAs and these people will need to pay up to the government or hire someone qualified to fix all the mistakes the software and technology can't handle.
Despite what you read about audit levels in the media, you're going to see more audits coming from the areas they know they can generate tax dollars from and blindside taxpayers who don't know what they are doing and rely on online programs and do-it-yourself software.
A Pennsylvania CPA
Wrong on marijuana
I found your article about services to the marijuana industry ("Blazing a trail," October 2015, page 10) in poor taste and demeaning of the CPA profession.
I am in favor of the legalization of all drugs if it will help save innocent lives. However, marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government, even though the present "administration" has turned a blind eye toward it. Not too long ago I read a much better article in your newsletter about the issue of "aiding and abetting" when it comes to providing CPA services to illegal drug dealers.
I perform volunteer work with alcoholics and drug addicts. People who use drugs generally have some mental health issues and are not what I would call "healthy" individuals. Wouldn't it be better to propagate articles that focus on productive and healthy behaviors? Just because marijuana is legal at the state level, does that mean we should support one more harmful behavior? As CPAs, don't we have an obligation to help protect the public interest? Just because we can support a business like this, does it mean we should?
I live in Colorado in a ski resort town that was once called "The Amsterdam of the West." We were one of the first cities to legalize the possession of less than an ounce of pot. You should come and take a look at the so-called "bro-bras" here, young men wandering around stoned out of their minds, snowboarding and driving recklessly, and chasing away tourists who come here for a family vacation. It's not a pretty picture.
With legalization comes responsibility. I'd rather see us supporting educational efforts with respect to drug usage than the industry that itself creates more drug users. There is so much more to life than drugs. My professional choice is to support healthy behaviors, not destructive ones, regardless of the amount of money I could earn doing otherwise.
Terrence J. Power, CPA
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