In today’s world, the definition of wealth management encompasses a multitude of specialties ranging from investment management, to estate planning, to tax planning, to business succession plans, to cash flow analysis, and beyond.
I find the financial planner’s role is to not only provide their offered services, but to go above that and play a role as a CFO in their clients’ lives. Meaning, to see the top-level view; to see the bigger picture for their clients’ financial plan and lead them towards other professionals that could enhance the plan to be even more sound. No one can be an expert in everything, and it’s important to see opportunities to delegate.
Collaboration is Crucial
Now that I work in wealth management, yet have a CPA background, I find that a fluid relationship between a client, their financial planner, and their CPA is extremely important, for multiple reasons.
The main reason being that mitigating the erosive effects of taxes plays a huge component in enhancing one’s wealth. I wanted to list a few hypothetical scenarios where teamwork between the planner and the CPA would be extremely beneficial for the client’s wealth enhancement strategies. The possibilities for collaboration are endless, but these are some common scenarios for you to think about.
Tax planning for an upcoming retirement
- Once their employment ceases, how will this affect their tax return? Depending on the type of employment income, the amount of deductions they could take from their employment income, etc., this could change drastically.
- When a client retires, they could have income sources from taxable accounts, traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, annuities, employer plans, other passive income, etc. How can we strategize withdrawing from these sources without moving the client into a higher tax bracket? How can we coordinate this strategy with an appropriate investment plan?
- How can we manage the client’s taxable income to limit their taxation on social security benefits?
- A client wants to rent their vacation home to supplement retirement income. Would it be better to keep this as personal property or rental property? How do we keep the client’s AGI down below the rental loss phase-outs?
- How will the sale of this appreciated stock affect their return? Do they have other deductions this year to offset this capital gains tax?
- Is this person in a financial position now, and in the future, to benefit from municipal bond income versus corporate? Along with the client’s federal return, how would their state return be affected?
- The client seems to be a good fit for a Roth conversion. How will this affect their return if we simultaneously contribute funds to a Donor Advised Fund? What dollar amounts do we need to net this based on this upcoming year’s anticipated tax scenario?
- Is the client-eligible Roth IRA contribution this year based on their MAGI?
- Is the client losing a deduction this year and should open a traditional IRA to help offset taxable income? How much does their contribution need to be?
- The client has a 401(k) and a Roth 401(k) option. Should they contribute to one, or the other, or both? How will this affect their ability to contribute to a traditional IRA or Roth IRA contribution?
Connecting the Dots
So how can CPA’s and financial planners connect? First, ask your clients who their planners are. For your top clients, consider setting up a yearly meeting for all parties to discuss the planning strategy and to make sure that no important details are missed. Or, you could make sure you connect in some way with the other professional regarding any significant financial changes.
Additionally, CPAs could consider creating a checklist for their clients’ financial planners to complete, which would ask for additional information needed that is not listed on the 1099’s or 5498’s. However you choose to collaborate, the goal we are all trying to achieve is to enhance your client’s overall financial plan.
RiverStone Private Wealth Advisors, 7 Livingston St. Rhinebeck, NY 12572. 845-516-4440. firstname.lastname@example.org Securities offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC.