Remember “tax season?”

The old rhythm of the tax and accounting professional’s year is rapidly changing: “Today, every season is tax season,” observed Chad Smith, a wealth management strategist at HD Vest Financial Services.

“With regular tax law changes, extensions have become the norm, rather than the exception, and this keeps tax season humming all the way until October 15, when it’s already time to start planning for the next year’s filing ‘deadline,’” he added.

And in fact “planning” goes down to the wire. Opportunities to help mitigate clients’ tax liability for 2015 are still around. It’s probably not too late to work in a few more fourth quarter tax-planning sessions.

Perhaps you have already conducted them for your largest clients, but today’s B and C clients can become tomorrow’s A clients through a combination of sound planning advice, and smaller clients’ appreciation of being given your full attention. The loyalty you will earn, along with a higher probability of referral business, will pay off in the long run, so long as you are careful in evaluating the potential scope of the client relationship.

TAX-SAVVY MOVES

Tax-planning sessions should, of course, ensure that clients make tax-savvy moves before the year is over to take full advantage of available tax benefits. But being a tax planner, rather than simply a tax preparer, “is a role that actively and holistically engages with the client’s financial life, rather than passively responding to actions of a year that has already passed,” said Smith.

And while building a client base is critical in today’s new tax world, it’s not just about the number of clients. Depth is as important, indeed often more important, than the breadth of a client base. “Simply taking on more clients may create more strain than profitability,” warned Smith.

For many successful accounting professionals, expanding their service menu for clients whose financial lives they already know and understand leads to profitable growth. It is a natural adjunct to evolving from a tax preparer to a tax planner. When the result is that clients save or make more money, they are rarely unhappy about the additional fees that may accompany that service expansion.

EXPANDING SERVICES

With taxes an ongoing, year-round consideration, becoming a financial advisor can make it much easier for a tax professional to work closely with clients who are undertaking important transactions or life changes.

By making the engagement a year-round activity, “Clients need not be rushed into implementing tax-advantaged moves at the last minute, whether these be making capital improvements in a self-owned business, paying into a college savings plan or looking at estate and gifting issues,” Smith said.

Today’s tax environment is constantly changing, placing additional burdens and responsibilities on all parties in the equation. New patterns of doing business are emerging, as are new opportunities. And as they do, the role of the tax planner and the financial planner will inevitably move closer together.


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.

The HD Vest affiliated companies exclusively provide financial products and services, and do not provide or supervise tax or accounting services. Advisors may provide tax, accounting or other services through their independent outside businesses, but these services are separate and apart from HD Vest.