As a financial advisor, building a robust network of referral sources is key to growing your business and delivering high-quality service to your clients. One group which financial advisors often consider partnering with are certified public accountants (CPAs). Yet, despite connecting with CPAs, many financial advisors still struggle to turn a networking moment into a sustainable referral source.
Here are some of the most common reasons why financial advisors struggle to collaborate with CPAs and actionable steps you can take to build a two-way referral pipeline.
Why Collaborate With CPAs?
First and foremost, let’s review why CPAs make one of the best referral sources for financial advisors.
- Expertise in Tax Planning & Compliance: A CPA can help you identify tax-saving opportunities and help keep your clients in compliance with tax laws, reducing the risk of costly penalties and fees.
- A Broader Perspective on Financial Planning: Financial planning and tax planning are so closely related that clients expect you to have contacts who are CPAs. Those advisors without a network of knowledgeable tax professionals may be viewed as less competent or less experienced than others. Working closely with CPAs helps you provide a more comprehensive suite of services to your clients and enhance your value proposition.
- Improved Client Relationships: Collaborating with a tax professional allows you to become a better resource to your clients, which can increase their loyalty and trust of your brand. This makes you more referable, both from a client standpoint and a professional network standpoint.
Having a CPA in your corner is a valuable resource and benefit to offer clients. Not only have you taken the time to vet them for their expertise, but they complement your services and make you that much more adaptable to clients’ everyday needs.
If working with a CPA is so great (and so many advisors and CPAs are already connected), why is it so difficult to generate actual referrals? Here are some of the most common mistakes we see financial advisors make.
Are You Missing a Compelling Value Proposition?
Financial advisors often fail to articulate the value they can offer to CPAs. A clear and compelling value proposition can help establish a mutually beneficial relationship and make it easier for CPAs to refer clients. In that same vein, it can be difficult for CPAs to distinguish between the strategies of different advisors. Be sure to differentiate yourself from your competitors in order to stand out and make it easy for CPAs to work with you.
Do You Have an Easily Identifiable Niche?
A financial advisor with a specific niche can provide greater value to CPAs. One, it makes you easy to distinguish from other financial advisors, and two, CPAs know exactly who you serve. CPAs will be more likely to refer to financial advisors who specialize in working with a particular industry or profession that is clearly identified with strong, consistent messaging.
Are You Forgetting the CPA in the Equation?
Collaboration between financial advisors and CPAs is about more than just referrals. You need to demonstrate how you can work with CPAs to benefit the client. There are several ways to incorporate a CPA into your planning process, including:
- Communicating major changes: Make it a point to notify your clients’ CPAs of any major changes that may have negative tax consequences. This can allow you both to work together to come up with solutions before tax season.
- Provide 1099s or cost-basis information: Proactively provide CPAs with all necessary tax documents, such as 1099s and cost-basis information. Designating someone in the office to help gather this information can make the process smoother.
- Provide case studies: Consider providing CPAs with case studies of how you’ve helped clients to showcase the value you offer and help establish a strong referral network. If you don’t know where to start with creating a case study, check out our case study examples or book a free strategy call to discuss!
Build Your CPA Connections Today
Get started building successful relationships with CPAs and expanding your network with these actionable steps.
Ask Your Clients for Referrals
One of the easiest ways to connect with a CPA is by asking your top clients for referrals. Your clients likely have a trusted CPA they work with or know someone who does; this can be a great starting point for building a relationship with a new CPA and a value-add for your services. Let your clients know you will keep their CPA information on file for proactive tax planning or tax-related questions.
Reach Out to CPAs
Once you have the contact information for your client’s CPA, reach out to introduce yourself and your services. Explain that you work with their client and want to provide the necessary tax documents or projections. Don’t be afraid to set up a meeting to ask if they are accepting new clients and discuss how you can help some of their higher-net-worth clients (just make sure it’s not during the height of tax season!).
Deliver a Tax Survival Gift Basket
During tax season, CPAs are often swamped with work. Show your appreciation by sending a Tax Survival Gift Basket with a note expressing your interest in connecting with them when things settle down. Get your free CPA survival kit here.
Showcase the Benefits of a Partnership
When you do meet with a CPA, be sure to showcase the benefits of a partnership. Explain how you can provide value to them (e.g., proactive planning, identifying Roth conversion strategies, tax-loss harvesting opportunities, coordination and implementation of tax-related recommendations). This can be a valuable asset to a CPA and can lead to a successful partnership.
Invite Them to Speak or Write
Invite a CPA to speak at an event or write a guest article for your blog or newsletter. This is a great way to build a relationship, establish credibility, and recognize their expertise and professional accomplishments.
Create a Specific Campaign
Create a specific campaign email series directly targeting CPAs. Provide valuable resources or insights they can use in their own practice or share with their clients. This helps you differentiate yourself as a specialist and build a valuable relationship with the CPAs in your network.
Have More Questions?
If you’re ready to start building a robust referral network, but don’t know where to start, we would love to hear from you! Schedule your free strategy session today to learn more about how we can level up your marketing and boost your referability.