One of the more challenging aspects of being a solo practitioner is choosing what you will do and what you won’t. Since time is our most precious commodity, it’s imperative that you choose wisely. I’ve always been the type of person who has a strong desire to have a thorough understanding of technical topics that are, or may be, useful to clients. Business owners have their own unique needscompared to non-business owners. Retirees needs differ slightly from pre-retirees. High-income/high-net-worth individuals’ needs differ from ultra-high-income/net-worth clients. Compounding this is the fact that the knowledge landscape is extremely broad. From income taxes to estate planning, from investments to insurance; the amount of available information is staggering. Clearly this is more than one individual can master. So what’s a solo practitioner to do? How do you keep from being overwhelmed? This is one of those adjustments we all have to make. If you have a similar personality to mine, needing to know all the relevant facts, it is even more important that you adjust. Here’s what I’m doing.

Form alliances. That’s it. Find people who specialize in things your clients need. Here are some of the different specialists I’m either working with or seeking to develop a relationship with. I have a good relationship with a couple of estate and tax attorneys already. I have a meeting scheduled with a property & casualty insurance agent and a health insurance agent very soon. Neither does what I do and I have no desire to do what they are doing. With this alliance, I can offer a more complete financial planning service to clients. I could offer a review of their P&C insurance, personal or business, and their health insurance coverage. I’m also forming an alliance with a person who specializes in cost segregation analysis. I mentioned this in an earlier blog. Here’s how this works.

I have a client who is a business owner. He has been taking advantage of accelerated depreciation through the “GO-Zone” provisions of the tax code, pursuant to Hurricane Katrina. Cost segregation is another way of accelerating depreciation on certain real estate. Though he cannot take “full” advantage of cost segregation (since he’s already using the GO-Zone benefit), he should still be able to benefit. I know how this technique works and can explain it to clients, but I’m not the expert. I will introduce the specialist to my client soon.

The bottom line is this: You don’t have to be the expert at everything, but you do need to know where to find one.

Adding value to our clients is want it’s all about.

Thanks for reading.