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Understanding the CPA’s world

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Welcome to this week’s Strategic Alliance Advisor Blog. This week, as promised, we’re going to shift gears from talking about how to sell and present the opportunity of a strategic alliance to a CPA, to focusing in on what it’s like to be a CPA, enrolled agent or accountant in today’s world. 

You may be wondering, “Why should I care what it’s like to be a CPA?” The answer is, because in my experience to really separate yourself from the pack of advisors all competing for these strategic relationships, you need to be able to speak the CPA’s language, and truly understand where the CPA is coming from and the challenges they face in their business day to day. Doing so will allow you to position yourself as a true asset in the relationship.

I’m shocked as I talk to hundreds of advisors each year across the country regarding building strategic alliances, how few advisors have ever taken the time to sit down with a CPA, (or any professional for that matter) with the sole intent of getting to know that professional’s goals and challenges.

I remember when the thought of conducting these interviews first hit me, it was one of those “aha” moments. I realized that rather than try and guess at what the CPA may want in an alliance, I thought, “Why not just ask them?” So I did. I literally would pay CPAs for an hour of their time to educate me on what it is they deal with on a day-to-day basis, and the challenges they face in their industry. I did this with the understanding that once I had conducted enough interviews, the CPAs themselves would have told me exactly what they look for in relationships with advisors, as well as what they don’t want to hear from advisors, and ultimately how best to approach them.

I believe if there was one single thing that had the biggest impact on my results early on in building alliances with CPAs, this was it. I essentially enlisted CPAs to help me build my proposal for potential alliances based on what they told me they were looking for. Armed with this knowledge I was able to build a program and develop an approach that I knew would resonate with their peers, because it was actually designed by CPAs themselves.

So, what key insights did I take away from these interviews? That’s what we are going to begin looking at over the next several weeks. 

We’ll be looking at:

  • The impact of an aging client base on the CPA’s practice
  • The changing needs of the CPA’s clients, and how CPAs are adapting and evolving to try and meet those needs.
  • The increasing competition within the accounting industry, both from competitor firms as well as financial planning firms beginning to offer accounting services
  • The struggles of CPAs striving to provide “one-stop-shop” financial services
  • The most commonly used models CPAs implement to address the planning needs of their clients, and the inherent pitfalls in these models, as well as much much more.

The reason it’s so important that you understand all of this before attempting to form alliances with these professionals is so that when you sit across the table from a CPA whom you wish to partner with, you’ll be able to quickly build a rapport and connection with them that the vast majority of advisors never will, because you will have done your homework, and that will get their attention.

Check back next week when we kick off this series with “How the aging of the CPA’s clients is affecting their businesses.”

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