Since your clients’ tax returns are a window into their financial lives, tax season gives you the ultimate opportunity to identify new ways to help them and deepen those relationships. Now is the time to prepare to take full advantage of this opportunity.

The first step is to prioritize your client list according to which ones have the greatest need for the financial services you provide. Wealth is not the sole determining factor, of course.

A wealthy client whose investments appear to be well managed, whose insurance needs are met and whose estate plan is in order is not your best candidate. A young client with lower income and a smaller portfolio, but whose income growth prospects appear strong, could be the ideal candidate if they have not yet taken important steps to lay a strong financial foundation.

IDENTIFY BEST PROSPECTS

“Reviewing prior-year returns and notes on previous meetings with clients puts you in a position to choose which ones to focus on,” observed Chad Smith, a wealth management strategist at HD Vest Financial Services. “Also, be sure that the tax organizer you send clients to accompany the documents you need to prepare their returns will give you a broad picture of their financial position, not merely the bare essentials you need to complete the tax return.”

Chances are that you will be asking clients for more information than you have in the past, so introduce your request by explaining that the additional information will let you see their situation holistically, and help you to pinpoint steps they need to take beyond simply writing out a check to the U.S. Treasury or other taxing authorities. Ask them to identify any financial issues on their minds beyond the realm of taxes.

WHAT TO ASK

In your letter, ask them for details about:

  • Life, disability, long-term care, property, casualty and all other insurance policies they own, including benefit amounts;
  • Estate planning documents, including their will, trusts, powers of attorney and health care directives;
  • A summary of significant employee benefits, including qualified and nonqualified retirement plans, short- and long-term incentive compensation plans, and any retiree health benefits;
  • All of their investment accounts; and,
  • Anything else they want to discuss.

Armed with that information, along with their W-2s, 1099s, K-1s and all the other statements you need to prepare the 1040, you can pinpoint opportunities to deliver additional services.

Be realistic about how many clients you can support with your existing resources. You may need to bring on additional staff, or outsource certain services, to address all the client needs you identify — assuming clients are willing to put you in charge of doing so.

SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS

Once you have identified as many financial service opportunities as you can, schedule your meeting. In doing so, prepare clients by explaining to them that you have ideas about addressing the issues they have raised, and also have identified financial gaps that you can work on closing together. The goal of the meeting is to get the wheels in motion to close those gaps.

You will be ready for that meeting when, among other things, you:

  • Have an agenda;
  • Understand what you’re going to recommend and are confident it’s a good solution;
  • Are ready to explain your recommendation in as much detail as clients want and can absorb;
  • Have collateral materials on hand that supplement or reinforce your recommended solutions;
  • Have the required paperwork to implement your recommendations ready to sign; and,
  • Know how you will “close” the meeting — i.e., how you will ask for the business.

Chances are that you will learn more about your clients’ financial needs and, equally important, their goals and attitudes about money. It will be less cut-and-dried than a routine tax-minimization discussion, but it will set you on a course to becoming a more comprehensive financial solution provider.

The views and opinions presented in this article are those of Chad Smith and not of HD Vest Financial Services® or its subsidiaries.

HD Vest Financial Services® is the holding company for the group of companies providing financial services under the HD Vest name.

Securities offered through HD Vest Investment ServicesSM, Member SIPC, Advisory services offered through HD Vest Advisory ServicesSM, 6333 N. State Highway 161, Fourth Floor, Irving, TX 75038, 972-870-6000.