[IMGCAP(1)]Has there ever been a time in your life when opportunity knocked and you ignored it? Right now, there’s an industry opportunity with three letters: CPA. Are you ready to open the door and expand your CPA practice?

While our economy has changed a lot since 2008, one thing has remained true: CPAs are still considered clients' most trusted advisor. But when it comes to financial services, do clients see them and want them as their wealth manager?

According to Allan Koltin, CPA and CEO of Koltin Consulting Group, Inc., there are three emerging trends in the accounting industry today that have many CPAs wondering how they will integrate financial services into their practices:

1. Slow growth for audit and compliance work;
2. Financial services becoming an important niche service for the top 100 CPA firms; and
3. Clients looking for one-stop shopping opportunities with their CPAs.

Let’s take a closer look at the impact of these trends.

CPAs Seek Growth Opportunities
Traditional sources of revenue, generally resulting from tax and accounting practices, have been eroding, largely due to the availability of technology and software. This trend is expected to continue into the next decade. According to the Koltin Consulting Group, projections for audit and compliance work are estimated to be between 0 percent and 3 percent.

To remain profitable, you may need to develop fresh sources of growth and income for your firm. By broadening your practice to include products and services traditionally offered only by insurance and financial services companies, you may find that you’re able to broaden not just your practice, but your profitability—in ways other than just billable hours.

Become a Niche Player
According to Accounting Today, top accounting firms see financial services as one of the most important niche services they can offer to grow their business. Why financial services? The answer is simple.

People or businesses that need a CPA generally have a similar need for life insurance and related products, whether it’s to meet a personal or business need. In the past, the life insurance and accounting professions have traditionally operated independently of one another. Today, that is changing. Both professions are realizing just how valuable a resource the other can be. Consider what each brings to the table. You have clients who want to grow and/or preserve their assets; the life insurance professional has access to products, services and strategies these successful clients need.

One-Stop Shopping
Consumer buying habits show that when they want trusted advice they turn to their CPAs. Today, in addition to tax services, clients are happy to get their financial services from their CPA as well, based on a report from the Colorado Business Journal.

You’re in a position today to make choices about how to integrate financial services into your practice. When doing so, here are a few factors to consider:

• What level of involvement are you looking for?
• How much control do you want to maintain?
• How much of an expert do you want to become?
• Do you want to sell financial products?
• Do you want to or have the ability to bring new prospects to the table?

In answering these questions, many CPAs understand they can’t do it on their own. By partnering with an advisor or financial firm, they are able to integrate financial services into their practice much more efficiently and effectively.

When looking for a partner, these are the biggest indicators of success in the financial services industry:

1. A strong local presence with access to talent at the local and corporate level, such as advanced marketing attorneys, pension experts, marketing consultants, etc.

2. Access to a comprehensive portfolio of products and services that, in turn, will enable you to offer your clients a full spectrum of financial solutions.

3. Education designed to increase the knowledge necessary to enter into the financial services industry.

4. A marketing strategy that targets existing clients as well as an opportunity to identify new clients.

No Regrets
When an opportunity for growth comes your way, there’s nothing to lose by exploring it. There is only insight to gain: increased knowledge and awareness, and an opportunity to grow. So, what are you waiting for? Open the door and learn more.

David Auer, a 29-year veteran in the CPA industry started offering financial services to his clients in 2014 after attending a CPA Symposium sponsored by National Life Group. At the event, he realized he was lacking a lot of the services many of his clients needed in the form of proactive tax planning. Now, one year later, outside of tax season, he spends the majority of his time helping clients save on future taxes by implementing financial strategies. An unexpected result is that he has found a new level of enthusiasm and appreciation for his services. He has gone from clients needing to meet with him to wanting to meet with him.

When asked what advice he would give to other CPAs considering broadening their practice to include financial services, he said, “Be open to the changes happening in the accounting industry and the changing needs clients have given the uncertainty in the financial markets. Expanding your practice will allow you to prepare your clients for the major life events that they will encounter along the way.”

Michelle Jones, LLIF, is assistant vice president of marketing at National Life Group. She has more than 26 years of experience in the sales and marketing of life insurance and financial products. In her current role, she is primarily responsible for the development and implementation of proprietary marketing programs, including social media, multicultural marketing, life product marketing, and the company’s CPA Advantage program. Jones is also responsible for creative services and producer rewards and recognition programs. She can be reached at mjones@nationallife.com.

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