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Expert: CPAs well positioned to head wealth management teams

CPAs are uniquely positioned to offer clients advice regarding wealth manageme

Certified public accountants and financial firms looking for ways to broaden their client base might consider expanding their services to include one often overlooked area of personal financial planning

Certified public accountants and financial firms looking for ways to broaden their client base might consider expanding their services to include one often overlooked area of personal financial planning services.

Some CPAs are in a good position to help clients assemble and oversee a wealth management team, suggests accountant Lewis Altfest. Writing in the Journal of Accountancy, Altfest points out that many clients don't have time time necessary to look into attorneys, investment advisers or insurance experts. Furthermore, a good number of clients don't have the expertise to do so. Because CPA firms can build a long-standing, trusting relationship with clients over the course of many years, and because they are intimately familiar with a client's financial portfolio, CPAs could handily assume a role at the head of a wealth management team.

Clients are likely to pay well for this service, Altfest argues. Sound advice from a qualified CPA heading a wealth management team can save clients a significant amount of money in the long-term. If positioned as an adviser on a fee-for-service basis, the cost of a CPA will pale in comparison to the overall savings accrued through reduced spending or losses on inappropriate investments.

"Clients are seeking the right advisers to help them navigate through the uncertainty in our economy," Altfest writes. "A CPA who remains on the PFP sidelines may be forcing many clients who lack the proper knowledge to try to find competent advisers on their own at a time when they could benefit from the CPA’s insight, experience and objectivity."

CPAs who have already taken a PFP role might refer to a recent survey from the consultancy Leap of Faith. According to the website Money Management, 11 percent of respondents said telephone calls were the primary means of communication with a financial planner, but 24 percent said they'd prefer a phone call rather than an email.

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