How Accountants Can Attract More Affluent Clients and Be The "Most Trusted Advisor"
Interested in learning more about partnering with CPAs? Click below.
In this video we help accountants understand how to attract more affluent business owners, be their "most trusted advisor" and build a 7-figure CPA tax practice.
How would you like to work with more affluent business owner clients, be their most trusted business advisor, and build a seven-figure tax practice? The CPA profession is undergoing substantial changes. And as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants pointed out in their CPA Horizons 2025 Report: A Roadmap to the Future, CPAs are no longer defined by traditional services such as tax preparation, audits, and financial statements. And CPAs are now expected to be their client's most trusted business advisors.
There are many challenges facing CPA firms, such as attracting and developing new business, a limited brain trust because one person can really only learn so much, clients now have easy access to information that used to be proprietary, new federal and state regulations which are increasing in complexity and cost to comply, dealing with affluent business owner client demands and expectations. They see companies like Apple and IBM paying less than 5% of their net income in taxes. Affluent business owners are upset that they have to pay as much as 30% or more of their net income in taxes, and they blame their CPA for those results. CPAs are also dealing with A clients leaving for greener pastures to other CPA firms promising better service, the third-party referral risk, really no organic growth, seasonality and workload compression causing CPAs to have very little time for what is most important to them, and their quality of life is suffering because of it. And these are just some of the many challenges for CPAs today.
In a recent survey on what small- and medium-sized businesses want from their CPA, The Sleeter Group found that 76% of business owners think their CPAs are not being proactive enough in helping them. And over 70% of CPA clients are not even aware of exactly what their CPAs can do for them. In fact, the survey also found that 72% of small business owners have changed their CPA or accounting firm at least in part because the firm only gave them reactive services instead of proactive advice. And to top it off, 36% are currently looking for a new CPA.
CPAs are overwhelmed with the time commitments to serve B and C clients, time that really should be spent serving their A clients. Too many CPAs are losing their A clients because they're being underserved, and losing the wrong one could be devastating to a lot of firms. To make matters worse, when a business owner client needs a simple tax mitigation strategy, let alone complex ones, most CPAs are still using old business models that are outdated and filled with inefficiencies and are exposing CPAs to unnecessary risk.
We created the CPA team-based model to bring together some of the brightest and most forward-thinking professionals from around the country. These are leading experts who cover vast areas of the 72,000-plus pages of the Internal Revenue Code. We specialize in helping CPAs focus on proactive and comprehensive tax planning, allowing CPAs to deliver more value to their affluent business owner clients. We show CPAs how to increase their revenue by working more with A clients and less with B and C clients, which allows them to spend more time with their friends and family.
Now, let me say this right up front. We're not interested in getting a CPA's list of clients. We're also not interested in sharing referrals. Our goal is not to work directly with the public. Rather, we work behind the scenes to support top CPA firms. CPAs that have the ability to help literally any business owners save significant money in taxes have a huge advantage over their competition that just look for the same old basic deductions as everybody else. The main question, though, is how does a CPA in this environment offer proactive and comprehensive planning well meeting the demands that are already placed on their shoulders? The answer is by working smarter, not harder, and utilizing leverage. Let me show you how.
This diagram represents the third-party referral model. The bubble in the center marked CPA represents you. The bubble on the right marked clients represents all of your clients. The smaller bubbles represent just some of the 10 to 15 specialists that you need all around you to offer proactive and comprehensive tax planning. Now, think about how many clients you actually have, 400, 500, 600, 700-plus clients. So in order to give each of your clients the type of proactive and comprehensive tax planning that they need, and oftentimes expect, you have to have a lot of relationships, which really represents a lot of moving parts for each one of your clients.
Now, what we do to help better serve you and your business owner clients is we come right next to you and we provide the support that you need. So instead of you having to juggle 10 to 15 relationships with specialists, as illustrated on the last page, in addition to all of your clients, now you have to only have one relationship, and that's with us. We expand our CPA's brain trust, operating much like a family office, and our team is made up of some of the brightest and most forward-thinking professionals in the country who cover vast areas of income and estate tax mitigation. We have a world-class team made up of actuaries, third-party administrators, plan design experts, ESOP specialists, qualified and non-qualified solution providers, medical underwriters, and affluent client service group, CPAs, and attorneys. And really, the list goes on and on. This team allows CPAs to bring the newest, most timely, proactive tax-planning ideas to the table for their most important affluent business owner clients, and it's all done in the most efficient, risk-free manner possible.
Let me illustrate the difference for you between the outdated third-party referral model and the CPA team-based model. So let's say one of your affluent business owner clients, who we'll call Scott and is one of your top five clients, in preparation for the sale of his business in 5 to 10 years, he finally brought on a business partner, who we'll call Sarah. It paid off, and together they just landed a brand new 10-year contract that's going to double his personal income from 300,000 to 600,000. He's initially very excited, but then it hits him. That's going to be a lot more money in taxes, so he calls you, his go-to person.
Now, based on your discussion with him, you think a defined benefit plan might be appropriate. So you introduce him to your defined benefit referral source, Matt, and you think Matt could help set up a new plan and reduce some of the taxes. Initially, Scott's a little reluctant because he doesn't know Matt, but let's assume he still follows your advice because he trusts you. Matt creates a defined benefit plan for Scott. And at the end of the year, Scott was able to deduct $100,000 contribution because of his age and income level. So, everyone's happy, right? I mean, in hindsight, it looks like a win-win-win. Scott saved money on his taxes, Matt got a new client, and you connected them.
Well, the story really doesn't end there. Let's dig a little deeper. Scott, one of your top five clients, is now at a football game. He's up in one of those suites with a few of his business friends. You know the old saying, birds of a feather flock together? And these are the exact type of affluent, successful business owners that you would love to bring on as new clients in your practice. It's during halftime, and eventually the topic of business comes up. And Scott, your client, says, "Business is booming for Sarah and me. Last year, we landed a major contract, and it doubled my income. I was concerned about my taxes, so my CPA introduced me to this guy who put something called a defined benefit plan in place, which ended up creating $100,000 deduction for me." Now, one of them says, "Wait, wait, wait a minute. How did you do that?" Scott says, "Well, this guy named Matt helped me put this plan in place and the contributions are tax deductible." And here's the key part. Scott's friend then replies, "Wow, can I get Matt's number? I'd like to see if that would work for me."
So let's break down what really happened here. Scott, one of your very best clients, is now giving out Matt's number, not yours, to all of his successful business owner buddies. Here's Scott helping Matt grow his business, not yours. You took all the risks and received really nothing in return, and it doesn't stop there. Let's take a step back and break this down a little further.
First of all, the defined benefit plan may have helped him save taxes, but what about the buy-sell agreement for him and Sarah? Was that ever discussed? Also, he plans to retire in 5 to 10 years, but how? Is Sarah going to buy him out? Should he have maybe considered it an ESOP? His income went from 300,000 to 600,000, so does he really need all that extra income to live on? If not, perhaps a combination of a qualified and a non-qualified plan that may have had a smaller upfront deduction, but created tax-free distributions, would have been more appropriate. But again, setting all that aside, the biggest issue is that your client, Scott, just told his friends about the amazing job that someone else did. He had a great opportunity to be telling your story to the people that you want your story being told to, but because of the model you're using he's talking about Matt instead.
Now, we'll call this scenario option A, but what if there was another scenario? And let's call that option B. Same great client named Scott, same $600,000 income. But this time when he calls you, his go-to person, rather than you telling him to go see Matt, you tell him that you'll get together with your team and then be back in touch with him in a couple weeks to go over some ideas. From there, you pick up the phone and call your team, made up of some of the very best specialists in the country. Then, they go to work on your behalf, but not just calculating the numbers on a defined benefit plan, looking at the complete financial picture, making sure that all angles are considered. And they're working on your behalf with the same objective, to serve the best interests of your client, Scott, unlike the old and outdated referral model where everyone is trying to sell the one thing that they specialize in.
Once your team's work is done, they call you back and say, "Okay, here's what we see. We have an income tax issue, and that can be addressed using a qualified option, such as a defined benefit plan. Or, another alternative might be a combination of a qualified and non-qualified plan. We believe that Scott should also consider cost segregation because of his real estate assets, which would help him increase cash flow and pay for the contributions to that non-qualified plan. By the way, he also needs a buy-sell agreement for him and Sarah, and here's what we would suggest in terms of how you set that up. Lastly, he has a term policy that expires when he's only 65. And really, since his wife's seven years younger than him and they have three children, he probably should consider getting some permanent insurance as well."
Then, you walk through the ideas. And by the way, you've already been introduced to each of these strategies and many of these specialists prior to the call at our events where you receive CE credits for that education. Once you have all of your questions answered by the specialist, you can confidently give it the green light. You then call Scott, let him know that you and your team are done with their work, and that you're ready for him to come in and look at a few different options. Scott meets you in your office and sits down with you, and your team if you would like, and at the end of the meeting is absolutely blown away with the amount of work that has been done on his behalf. Just as before, he moves forward. But this time, not only did you address his income tax problem, you also have helped protect his family and his business in addition to his estate.
Now, let's go back to the same football game, the same group of affluent, successful friends, and the same conversation about business. However, this time it goes something like this: "Business is booming. Sarah and I couldn't be more excited. We landed a new 10-year contract, and as a result my income has doubled. Initially, I was a little worried about my taxes, so I called my CPA. I met with him, and he has this incredible team. They came up with a number of great solutions for me. Basically, it saved me over $250,000 in taxes, protected Sarah and me in case something happens to either of us, and leaves me significantly more to protect Jane and our kids for down the road."
Now his buddies say, "Wait a minute, you said your CPA did that? My CPA's never talked to me about any ideas like that." And Scott says, "Yeah, that was my CPA." And then the natural question now becomes, "Whoa. Can I get your CPA's name and number?" And then one by one, Scott's friends are getting your number, not Matt or some other referral partner. Boom. Real organic growth with the exact type of successful business owners that you want to work with is now taking place.
So let's compare the two options. The third-party referral model exposes you to unnecessary referral risk, puts your clients in a uncomfortable situation, produces mediocre results, and lacks organic growth. The CPA team-based model eliminates the referral risk, allows your clients to stay comfortable working with you, someone who they know and trust, produces world-class results, and develops true organic growth when your clients are telling your stories to their friends and family.
The implementation of solutions can get very overwhelming because of all the details involved. As a team, we are able to allow you to help business owners with some of the very best solutions to reduce expenses and cut taxes. In summary, the CPA team-based model allows CPAs to provide outstanding value to their clients without a lot of extra work and allows us, your team, to do our job behind the scenes providing world-class results.
And let's face it, affluent business owners really only want one place to get their answers. If an affluent business owner has a very important issue, they really don't want to have to call 12 different people, the CPA, the banker, the investment banker, the trustee, the attorney, the wealth advisor, and on and on with the same question. Then, they'll probably get 12 different answers, and then they have to go and try to assimilate all this information.
Affluent business owners want to go to one trusted source, the most trusted business advisor, which should be their CPA, their go-to person. The affluent business owner can ask the CPA a question, and the CPA can work with their entire team to get the very best answers and also the reasons why they're the best answers. Then, the CPA can go back to their client with confidence, unlike the outdated referral model where each of the specialists is trying to just sell the one thing that they're best at. And it's not just about the money. You get enormous satisfaction knowing that you're doing the absolute best job possible for your clients.
So if you're looking to gain a deeper level of trust with affluent business owners who are comfortable referring you to their friends, if you're looking to provide better value to your affluent business owner clients, if you're looking to increase your own financial success and enjoy a greater quality of life as a result, and if you're looking to spend less time in the office and have less stress, more time with friends and family, then you're definitely in the right place. If this sounds interesting to you, then let's dig a little deeper.
Here's how the process works. Our model is perfect for CPAs and other tax professionals who want to make the transition from the outdated third-party referral model to the CPA team-based model. One of the key ways we do this is through education. We have monthly educational webinars as well as in-person events twice a year we host called the Elite Tax Planning Academy. These offer 16 CPE credits spread out over two days and bring together some of the most forward-thinking professionals in the industry. We also provide online training to train CPAs in our step-by-step process on how to identify, contact, engage, and monetize opportunities with their very best business owner clients.
Ron Baker, CPA and well-known author, said, "I love what you guys are doing. Keep up the great work." Salim Omar, CPA and well-known coach for accountants said, "You've hit the nail on the head. This is a great opportunity for CPAs, and I look forward to working with you." And it truly is important to make sure that this really is a good fit for all parties involved because we are dedicated to getting results for the CPAs and other tax professionals we work with for the long term. We look forward to connecting with you soon.