Outside-IN

Outside-INblog

Outside voices and views for advisers

You have found your first CPA partner … Now what?

Mar 3, 2014 @ 12:01 am

By Paul Saganey

Now that you've made the decision to form a revenue-sharing relationship with an accountant, attorney, a P&C firm, or a bank/credit union professional partner, you are undoubtedly thinking about the first steps you should take in establishing this new relationship.

In your excitement about the opportunities to bring financial planning and wealth management concepts and ideas to your new CPA partner's clients, you need to remember that your future success will be determined by the initial steps you take together.

After all the time, effort, and hard work you've invested, it's important that you not drop the ball now. It's especially important that you are able and willing to take control of the relationship rather than letting your professional partner make decisions for you. Your confidence and direction are critical at this point.

(See also: Targeting CPAs for referrals requires careful approach)

CREATE A LETTER OF UNDERSTANDING

You will first need to create a letter of understanding or some type of written document, be it formal or informal, that contains the agreements that you and your professional partner discuss thoroughly during the formative stages of your relationship, and to which you both can agree. It is in your best interest to have your letters of understanding signed because the simple act of signing the agreement will tend to hold each party accountable to commitments made during the beginning of your relationship. Decide what your deliverables will be, and more importantly, what agreements you need from the accountant in order to give this new relationship the greatest potential for success.

Just a few of the provisions to include in the letter are: the type of clients the CPA will introduce you to; the number of days per week or month you will dedicate to being visible in the accountant's office, how you will communicate with your professional partner regarding any and all activities; and the CPA's agreement to understand and abide by all compliance requirements. The bottom line is, don't leave anything to chance — get it in writing.

I have seen relationships without written agreements deteriorate quickly when one party feels the other party is not upholding their end of the agreement. Frustration, anxiety and disappointment can easily undermine what you have worked so hard to build.

DESIGN A JOINT MARKETING PLAN

Marketing is the next subject that needs to be defined and agreed upon at the onset of the relationship. The marketing plan needs to be congruent with your letter of understanding, as it will be designed to target the ideal clients that you have defined — the people who can best use your unique abilities as an adviser, and in whose financial lives you are prepared to make an impact.

As I mentioned in my previous article How to generate more CPA referrals, even if you feel you have a practice that ranks among the top 2% of financial advisers, and your CPA partner has access to ideal clients for you to work with, unless you agree to a marketing strategy that addresses both parties' needs and expectations, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to maximize your new relationship.

In his book "The E-Myth Revisited," Michael Gerber asserts that one of the reasons a small business fails is because the public simply isn't aware that the business exists. As you build your marketing plan, it is imperative that you keep this idea at the forefront of your mind. In the initial stages of your new relationship with an accountant, your marketing plan should be built around the principle of introducing you and your services to the accountant's clients in the most effective way possible. The plan should be clear, consistent, professional, and in line with your organization's compliance responsibilities. It should include well-defined and detailed roles and responsibilities for each party, keeping in mind that especially in the early stages, it's all about letting the accountant's clients know that you exist and how you can best serve them.

Take the initiative early on and set the agenda for defining the relationship, adopt a confident and assertive stance in determining the scope of the relationship, be proactive vs. reactive when making and communicating your decisions, and act and give direction as if you've done this many times before.

If you have a detailed letter of understanding along with an effective marketing plan, you will lay the groundwork for success and put your revenue-sharing relationship on the right path and firm footing from the start.

In my next articles, I'll be talking about important/key communication tips between you and your professional partner to ensure the long-term success of your relationship.

Paul Saganey is founder and president of Integrated Financial Partners Inc., a firm that specializes in helping financial advisers build revenue-sharing relationships with accountants and attorneys. Paul can be reached at psaganey@ifpadvisor.com

0
Comments

What do you think?

View comments

Recommended for you

Sponsored financial news

Upcoming Event

May 02

Conference

Women Adviser Summit

The InvestmentNews Women Adviser Summit, a one-day workshop now held in four cities due to popular demand, is uniquely designed for the sophisticated female adviser who wants to take her personal and professional self to the next level.... Learn more

Featured video

INTV

When can advisers expect an SEC fiduciary rule proposal and other regs this year?

Managing editor Christina Nelson and senior reporter Mark Schoeff Jr. discuss regulations of consequence to financial advisers in 2018, and their likely timing.

Recommended Video

Path to growth

Latest news & opinion

Cutting through the red tape of adviser regulation is tricky

Don't expect a simple rollback of rules under the Trump administration in 2018 — instead, regulators are on pace to bolster financial adviser oversight.

Bond investors have more to worry about than a government shutdown

Inflation worries, international rates pushing Treasuries yields higher.

State measures to prevent elder financial abuse gaining steam

A growing number of states are looking to pass rules preventing exploitation of seniors.

Morgan Stanley reports a loss of advisers after exiting the protocol for broker recruiting

The firm said it lost 47 brokers in the fourth quarter, the most in any quarter of 2017.

Morgan Stanley's wealth management fees climb to all-time high

Improvement reflect firm's shift of more clients into fee-based accounts priced on asset levels, which boosts results as markets rise.

X

Hi! Glad you're here and we hope you like all the great work we do here at InvestmentNews. But what we do is expensive and is funded in part by our sponsors. So won't you show our sponsors a little love by whitelisting investmentnews.com? It'll help us continue to serve you.

Yes, show me how to whitelist investmentnews.com

Ad blocker detected. Please whitelist us or give premium a try.

X

Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print