There has always been common ground between accountants and financial advisers, both in terms of shared knowledge and a desire to deliver excellent service and advice to clients; writes Kristan Oakley, Chartered Financial Planner with True Bearing Chartered Financial Planners.
In recent years, however, regulation has produced a shift toward increasing demarcation between tax and financial advice. The lines between the two are less blurred than they have ever been, but this is a good thing!
As Chartered Financial Planners, we at True Bearing have always appreciated the significant contribution a good tax adviser can make to our clients, whether it’s a one-off piece of tax advice or ongoing accountancy services. By the same token, we find that accountants and tax advisers who have introduced us to their clients, entrusting us to provide financial planning advice, quickly come to the same realisation, often questioning why they haven’t done this already.
If done right, accountants partnering with Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs) can lead to more income (and profit), but that’s only part of the story.
There are definite advantages for clients whose tax and financial advisers are working together, communicating freely, and coming up with the best solutions. So often, we meet clients who are receiving mismatching tax and financial advice, leading them to question both, and to confusion. There are many areas where a dual approach works well. For example, remuneration planning. This is how best to structure a client’s income, not just earnings, but income from all sources with a view to mitigating tax and maximising ‘take-home’ pay. For example, funding pensions might be the right advice, but the scope is often compromised. This is particularly true for clients who opt for a dividend strategy. Accountants can really demonstrate their worth by helping clients find this compromise point.
Retirement planning – considering all resources, including pension funds, investments, property, and business assets. How can clients make the best use of their wealth in retirement? We encourage clients to engage in a comprehensive lifetime cash-flow exercise to pin down the details of which assets to use and in what order. This will inevitably incorporate a range of tax planning considerations requiring the services of…..their accountant!
When clients understand how their tax adviser is working in a joined-up way with their financial adviser, and they see the results, they are more likely to remain long term clients of both. Beyond this, they may be more inclined to refer their contacts to both businesses.
Working in Partnership
When working in partnership with accountants, it can be useful to both parties, and therefore beneficial to clients, to share expertise. This may even extend to training client-facing staff on pertinent topics, enabling colleagues to have more meaningful and rounded discussions with clients. A natural and welcome consequence is that staff are better positioned to spot business opportunities they might otherwise have missed.
Over time, as the partnership between accountant and financial adviser develops, we tend to see notable improvements in client service, satisfaction, and retention. This almost inevitably leads to improved reputation, profile and profitability of both parties. Don’t forget financial advisers have clients in need of good accountants too – it should be a two-way street.