How to Form Successful CPA - Financial Advisor Alliance

How to Form Successful CPA - Financial Advisor Alliance

A successful alliance between a CPA and a financial advisor can become a reliable source of great referrals. However, simply making a connection is not enough. Here are eight important points to keep in mind.

  1. A professional referral network extends beyond any one professional. The experience of top advisors shows that the total of four to five professional referral resources is optimal. Your network can include CPAs, attorneys, and other professionals.
  2. Consider the pros and cons of a formal referral relationship, with clearly defined responsibilities and expectations on both sides. Creating a sustainable long-term alliance means that both parties have to work on identifying the right fit and strategizing together on the way their offerings dovetail. Get to know each other’s practices.
  3. Consider compensation arrangements. Some states allow accountants to get compensated for referrals, others do not. The states that do permit fee or commission-sharing arrangements can have complex and specific rules that govern referral relationships and disclosures. Be sure that you understand the legal and regulatory framework before moving ahead.
  4. Make it your goal to add value to your CPA advocates with every interaction. Continuing education sessions are a great formal way to do so. Share resources that will educate them on wealth management and investments as they relate to taxes.
  5. Train them to express your value and identify ideal-fit prospects for you. That may include their obstacles or challenges, demographics, industry, or psychographics. As you become more clear and precise in describing your ideal clients, your odds of getting an appropriate referral will improve.
  6. Keep the communication flow open. One of the industry best practices is to never be more than 30 days away from your advocates. The check-ins do not have to be complex or time-consuming. Perhaps one month you have lunch together, and next month you send them an article that could be of use. The key is to stay connected.
  7. Become a good referral source to them. Who are their best clients? If someone in your practice was a good candidate for your advocate’s practice, how would you know it? What phrases and problems should you be listening for, on behalf of your advocates, in speaking with your own clients? Model insight and strategic thinking in conversation with your CPA referral partners, and they will do the same for you.
  8. Be patient. It can take time to build up the relationship and the trust before the CPA is comfortable enough to recommend your services to their clients. Hard-selling and pressure tactics are likely to backfire. Focus on speaking the accountant’s language, demonstrating how you can add value to his or her clients, and becoming a reliable resource.