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  • Choosing A Strategic Advisor

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  • PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM: COVID-19 SBA 7(a) Relief Loan

  • AI Powered Humans and the Effect on Advisory Services Part 1


  • Choosing A Strategic Advisor

    Picking the right accounting advisor is one of the most important things that you will do for your business. If you pick the right one, they will become a key player in your decision-making process and help you craft a strategic plan to achieve your goals. As a result, it is critical to talk to several accountants and find the one that is the best fit for you, your goals, and your business model. Not every accountant will be a good fit for you, just as you will not be a good fit for every accountant. Take the time and use the items below to find an advisor that fits you.

    Curiosity

    One of the biggest things an advisor needs to be is curious. To build out a good plan they need to understand not only your business model, goals, and dreams but also your personal goals and dreams. Is your advisor taking the time to learn about you? If they do not understand the way your business operates and what your goals and dreams are, they cannot properly advise you on the best decisions.

    Some questions they should be asking you:

    • What is your business model? (How do you generate revenue? How is it collected? Etc.)
    • What do you want to achieve in business?
    • What is your plan to get there?
    • Where do you think you are at today?
    • What are your personal goals and dreams?
    • When do you want to retire?
    • How much do you want to work?

    Service

    What kind of service you are going to receive from your advisor is another big aspect of choosing the right one. Most accountants today like to call themselves proactive, but the question is: what does proactive mean to them? At minimum, you should be having a tax planning meeting in December to finalize all of your plans. More than likely, you should be meeting quarterly so you can understand where you are at and properly plan the next steps for you and your business.


    Some questions you should be asking your potential advisor:

    • How often do they meet with their clients?
    • What is typically included in their advisory meetings? This answer will let you know if they only address taxes in these meetings or if they also address profitability and operational aspects.
    • How do they communicate tax updates and changes?
    • What is the most important thing for them to help a client with? If their answer is minimizing your tax bill then they may miss out on important operational and personal goal factors. The best answer is likely something about balancing minimizing taxes while making sure we are positioned to achieve your business and personal goals.

    Collaboration

    As you continue to grow your business your advisor will need to collaborate with not only you but with other advisors on your team. The chief among these will likely be your financial planner and lawyer. Some advisors do a great job collaborating with these other partners and others do not. A perfect question to learn more information on this is to ask how they work with financial planners to build out a tax plan. If they are collaborative, they will talk about joint planning sessions where they balance the tax impact with the retirement planning aspects for their business clients.

    Technically Competent

    Knowing if someone is technically competent is one of the most challenging aspects of choosing a strategic accounting advisor. You want someone who understands how your industry operates and is a tax law expert so they can balance both aspects when advising you. There are some designations that can give you some sense of their technical abilities but even these candidates should be vetted.

    Some questions you should be asking your potential advisor:

    • How many clients do you have in my industry?
    • Can I talk to any of them as a reference?
    • What major tax law changes from last year will have an impact on me? This question is less about the advice they give and more about if they prepared to talk about things. 
    • Do you have other colleagues in the accounting space that I can call for a reference?
    • Who are some of the financial planners you work with? Then call one of these financial planners and ask their opinion of the potential advisor.

    Humble, Hungry, and Smart

    Patrick Lencioni’s book “The Ideal Team Player” teaches the Humble, Hungry, and Smart (people smart) system to find ideal team members. This same methodology can be used to choose an advisor. The advisor should be humble enough to admit that you likely know more about your business than they do; hungry enough they want to learn how your business works, what your goals are, and want to stay technically up to date on items that impact you; and smart enough to work with you to build a plan that is actually achievable for you and the way you work. 

    Choosing the correct accounting advisor will have a major impact on your business. Spend the time and talk to several advisors to find the one that fits you.

    Side note: if you have not read “The Ideal Team Player” I highly recommend it.


    Jacob Schroeder | 02/08/2021



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