Is your accountant an expense or an investment?
A major contributor to the growth of your business or personal finances depends on having an experienced and trustworthy accountant in your corner. The reality is, however, the relationship you have with your accountant may be undervalued and overlooked. Beyond filing your yearly taxes and helping you manage expenses, if leveraged appropriately, your accountant should be an instrumental source of financial advancement.
Any good relationship – be it with your spouse, partner, family member, or colleague – takes work, communication, and effort. Your relationship with your accountant is no different.
According to George R. Gerhard, Co-Owner and Managing Partner of Trivium Point Advisory (TPA), a Westchester-based business consulting, wealth management, and tax services firm, “View your work with your accountant as a relationship and not just a transaction. Why not be strategic and leverage this partnership to its full potential?”
TPA’S TIPS FOR WORKING SUCCESSFULLY WITH YOUR ACCOUNTANT
Here are four simple and straightforward tips to get the most out of your relationship with your accountant.
TPA TIP 1: BE CURIOUS
Choosing an accountant is extremely important and the process shouldn’t be taken lightly. This individual will ideally become a trusted colleague, offering financial guidance, support, and expertise for your business.
Think about how you’ve brought your accountant into the mix. Ask yourself…
Why did you hire this person?
Were they referred by a family member or friend, or did you inherit them from a prior relationship?
Are you legitimately pleased with the work they provide?
Are you typically being told how much you owe, or having conversations about how much you can save?
Don’t just settle for anyone to handle the execution of your taxes. We encourage you to demand high-level advice around your finances, beyond just the preparation of your taxes.
This means go into the relationship with a discerning job description in mind and use this to create the ideal working partnership. Many people and businesses hire their accountants because of a referral, but why not think about this collaboration more deeply?
“People should start to compare the cost of their current services, versus the cost of the type of advice they should be getting,” says Ron A. Pac, Co-Owner and Managing Partner of TPA. “People are often reluctant to make the change, but take the time to create your dream relationship with your accountant. Get equipped with what you want even if it means unraveling what’s been done for years. The process can be arduous and some may be paralyzed by the fear of change, but this process should not be taken lightly,” he continues.
TPA TIP 2: BE PROACTIVE
“To maximize anything takes time, but the effort will be well worth it,” says Gerhard.
Both Gerhard and Pac relay that the majority of people are in contact with their accountant primarily from January – April, during tax preparation season.
“The definition for accounting is accounting for something that’s already happened. There’s a big difference between executing a tax return and tax planning. Focus on the latter,” relayed Gerhard.
Rather than react to what has already happened financially in the past year, the Trivium Point Advisory team works with its clients to push the needle forward.
Here are a few ideas to be proactive with your planning:
At the beginning of the relationship, take the time to thoroughly educate your accountant on the ins and outs of your business. Their ability to understanding your company’s culture, financial history, long-term business strategy, and future goals will allow them to do a better job for you
- Approach tax planning as a year-round process instead of a once-a-year necessity
- Depending on the complexity and status of your business, TPA suggests having quarterly or semi-annual conversations with your accountant. Timing suggestions include:
- October: Give your accountant a general sense of what’s happened for that year
- February: All preparation documents should be completed for your accountant to file the tax return, and financial conversations about the coming year should start happening
- April: Sign off on the tax return and discuss the outlook for the rest of the year
Building a strong relationship with your accountant requires consistent communication, interaction, and effort, however, a more proactive approach will maximize your ability to plan and take advantage of opportunities that can save you money.
TPA TIP 3: BE A GOOD PARTNER
Being proactive is only effective if you actively participate in the process.. Like any good relationship, the one you have with your accountant requires transparency, effort, and action.
Partnership strategies include:
Follow-through: Stick to the plans you set forward with your accountant as it pertains to things such as budgets and record keeping. Put simply, do what your accountant tells you to do! It will only cause more headache in the future if you ignore their professional advice or directions.
Be organized: Your accounting team should provide you the process and procedure to keep finances clear and concise. Have an agenda for your meetings ready beforehand, organize your files, and make an effort to keep records in order.
Communicate consistently: The best relationships are built on open and honest dialogue. Always look to include your team on major decisions and changes that happen in your world.
TPA TIP 4: BE DEMANDING
By demanding, we don’t mean high maintenance or fussy, but instead, being insistent on working with the best and brightest when it comes to your financial security.
Experts have said that after family, health, and relationships, managing finances should rank as a top priority in life. Why not find and expect the best from the people to manage yours?
In an ideal scenario, a business owner would be able to simultaneously collaborate with his/her accountant, financial planner, and investment manager. More often than not, this is not the case.
“There is often a gap in communication between all financial parties. Many accounting firms are doing a thousand tax returns simultaneously, and not all CPAs have the bandwidth to educate their clients along the way. Here at Trivium Point Advisory, we deliver a personalized boutique approach that puts all financial worlds together so that from tax prep to financial planning and investments, we can set our clients up for financial success,” says Pac.
According to Pac, the relationship you have with both your CPA and financial consultants can not only be maximized but simplified when this collaborative approach is taken.
TRIVIUM POINT ADVISORY: PROVIDING COMPREHENSIVE FINANCIAL SERVICES FOR INDIVIDUALS & SMALL BUSINESSES IN WESTCHESTER & FAIRFIELD COUNTIES
With a shift in perspective and commitment toward maximizing your relationship with your accountant, your financial health has the potential to thrive.
It’s important to remember that tax planning and discussions should not just be limited to tax preparation season, but instead throughout the year.
Trivium’s progressive perspective on the experience that a business owner deserves when handling their finances is what makes their platform attractive to business owners. From investment management and asset protection to tax preparation services, our “family office” approach enables you to develop the deep and long-standing relationship so needed for the growth of your business and the vitality of your financial future.