January 30, 2020

Go Beyond the Tax Return

January 30, 2020

An Ignite Blog by Lindsey Curley, CPA, CGMA

 AICPA Senior Manager, Firm Services

Have you reduced their tax burden as you promised last year? Have you identified ways they could save money in the future? Did you find opportunities to improve their bottom line? Today’s clients want to know that you have their backs. And with busy season now in full swing, there are countless opportunities for you to demonstrate the services and associated value that your firm provides.

While understanding new regulations to ensure clients are in compliance and minimizing tax burdens are essential to your success, they aren’t the reason your clients choose you over the competition. Being an effective Trusted Client Adviser requires demonstrating your value by uncovering new ways to help clients become more successful. Clients not only look to you to help them understand their financial picture, but to show them how to improve it. Whether it’s reducing costs, increasing efficiency, or minimizing risk, clients need and value your insights.

Consider the below three tips to help you take advantage of the opportunities that exist during busy season.

1. Only work with the best

Hopefully you took time before busy season to determine factors that make an ideal client for your firm and used that criteria when examining your client list. Did you keep only your best clients who deserve your time and attention? Did you outline the qualities that make a client a good fit for your firm and are you sticking to it? Don’t feel the need to take every frantic potential client that comes your way. Reduce frustration and workload compression and set your firm up for success by only working with and accepting the clients who fit your mold.

2. Incorporate opportunity identification into each return

Tax preparation provides a great springboard for new opportunities. Compliance is only part of your responsibility so as you work on each return, pick up on specific details where you can add value. If you noticed that they skipped their annual retreat, they may need assistance managing and motivating employees. If their marketing expenses increased, ask if they reached their goals and if there’s a way you can help. If their insurance expenses seem low, perhaps they don’t have adequate insurance to safeguard their assets. Document each item so you’re prepared for a value-added conversation either when their return is complete or later in the year.

3. Capitalize on the conversation

It’s amazing what you can learn by simply listening to clients and you can utilize your entire team in this effort. Whether it’s the firm administrator talking with a client, a tax professional performing the work, or a partner reviewing a return, everyone’s involvement is needed for optimum client service. Make sure your people are trained to ask thought provoking questions that get to the source of what keeps your clients awake at night and that they document what they’ve learned. Once you’ve identified additional service opportunities, you can revisit in the summer to prioritize.

Your clients need your help in this constantly changing economic and professional landscape. Differentiate yourself and showcase your value by becoming a strategic partner to your clients this busy season and add value by translating day-to-day client challenges into new service opportunities.

If you’ve had client successes in any of these areas, please share and comment below! Need help getting started? Consider using the AICPA PCPS Trusted Client Adviser tools to easily put these ideas into action right away.