Still using worn-out approaches to working with CPAs?

By Jesse Giuliani

By: Brandon Stuerke
Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, Founder and President
Golden Financial Group, LLC

Advisors today are hungry! Hungry for a better marketing plan than sending direct mail seminar invitations. In fact, many have even contemplated leaving the business because today’s marketplace seems tougher than ever.

Well, there’s hope. For the advisor who thinks strategically and builds a true joint-venture marketing plan, their growth is about to explode.

I can hear the objections already. “I’ve tried CPA relationships, the CPAs won’t refer!” Or, “The CPA said they’d work with me, but I never heard from them again!”

Chances are if you’ve heard anything like the above, you’ve probably approached CPAs with one of the following worn-out approaches:

1) Offering to cross-refer clients

Let’s be honest. If you’ve ever tried this approach, no doubt you’ve heard the CPA say, “Sure Mr./Mrs. Advisor, I’ll send you clients. Why don’t you give me your card and I’ll call you when someone has a need?” Enthusiastically, you pull out a stack of cards not realizing they end up in the trash shortly after you leave.

Why? You’re using a worn out approach. There is no perceived value for the CPA because you sound just like the other 10 advisors that have approached them. You have to think outside the box and create an approach that makes you different. From the CPA’s perspective, if the last 10 advisors that approached them all said the same thing, and none of the advisors followed through, why would you be any different?

2) Offering to split commissions

Even worse than offering to cross-refer clients is offering to split commissions. If you approach the CPA on this basis, you sound just like every other advisor begging to work with their clients. But that’s not even the worst of it. What happens if you offer to split the CPA 25 percent on any business you write and then the advisor that comes in after you offers 50 percent? You don’t want to get into a bidding war with another advisor.

3) Cutting the CPA out altogether

I’m sure you’ve heard this one. “The CPAs won’t cooperate! Let’s start our own tax practice. We’ll charge less than any CPA in town, get all the tax clients for ourselves and then we’ll be the trusted tax professionals who’ll convert them to planning clients.”

On the surface this doesn’t seem like a bad idea. But while it’s different, it fails at one of the most crucial points: You cut out the person you need the most.

It’s not doing the tax return that makes you the trusted advisor – it’s the relationship that has been built over the years. So even if you do get to do their taxes, you better plan on doing them for years before you earn their trust. It’s easy to let someone do your taxes, but manage their life savings? That’s another story.

The simple fact is, you need the CPA. You need them because you need to leverage the trust they have with their clients and the credibility they can lend to you as their advisor of choice. So what’s an advisor to do? If the above approaches won’t yield the results you want, then what will?

Find out in August. Join us at the Senior Market Advisor Expo this year, and I’ll share with you my secrets to cracking the CPA relationship code.