3 Things CPAs Are Thinking But Won’t Say Out Of Courtesy 

Matthew Jarvis, CFP®, uncovers the 3 key concerns CPAs have when referring clients to financial advisors and learns how to address them for stronger, trust-based relationships and valuable referrals. 

7 min read

One Little Thing Advisors Do To Tank Onboarding
Matthew Jarvis
Financial Planner, CFP®

Here’s a fact that might pique your interest: financial advisors who establish strong relationships with CPAs can potentially see a referral increase. The reason? CPAs often hold the key to a wealth of new clients, and their endorsements carry significant weight in the financial world.

How are your relationships with local CPAs? Are any of them your centers of influence? CPAs hold a pivotal position when it comes to growing your practice. Their deep, trusted relationships with clients make them powerful allies. However, they won’t refer clients to you unless they are confident in the value you deliver.

Today, we will uncover three key concerns CPAs have but may not voice out of courtesy. Understanding and addressing these unspoken worries can transform your professional relationship with CPAs, leading to a steady stream of valuable referrals.

“Is This Advisor Really Competent?”

One of the primary concerns CPAs have is whether the financial advisor they’re considering referring is truly competent. This concern stems from their responsibility to provide their clients with the best possible advice and services. If they refer clients to an advisor who lacks the necessary skills or knowledge, it could harm their reputation and their client’s financial well-being.

CPAs worry about competency because their own credibility is on the line. When they refer a client to a financial advisor, they are essentially vouching for that advisor’s ability to provide sound financial guidance. 

Recently, I sat down with Steven Jarvis, the best CPA I know. And I’m not saying this because he’s my little brother. I truly believe this, and it has been proven to me over the years and the career he has built. So, one of the possible solutions to prove to your local CPAs, in Steven’s words,  that you are a credible advisor is to make sure they are aware of your qualifications and certifications. Highlighting credentials such as CFP, CFA, or other relevant designations can provide reassurance of your expertise. Another aspect could be staying current with industry trends and updates and making sure CPAs know about it. Sending periodic newsletters, hosting webinars, or offering to brief CPAs on relevant financial developments can demonstrate your ongoing commitment to staying informed and providing top-notch advice.

You might think this is totally unnecessary and uncalled for but look at it from Steven’s perspective. Because of legal regulations, CPAs who make a mistake can potentially go to prison. If financial advisors make a mistake, we receive a letter from the CFP Board. That’s why I encourage you to make sure CPAs know your qualifications and certifications.

“Will This Affect My Reputation?”

CPAs are acutely aware that their reputation is intertwined with the performance of those they recommend. When a CPA refers a client to a financial advisor, they are putting their professional credibility on the line. The advisor’s performance directly impacts how clients perceive the CPA’s judgment and trustworthiness.

If a referral goes wrong—perhaps due to poor financial advice, lackluster service, or even a single negative client experience—it can severely damage the CPA’s reputation. Clients may lose trust not only in the advisor but also in the CPA who recommended them. 

One effective way to build trust and demonstrate your value is to offer to pay for an hour of the CPA’s time. During this meeting, you can thoroughly explain your services, share detailed client success stories, and address any questions or concerns they might have. This investment not only shows that you value the CPA’s time and expertise but also provides an opportunity to clearly communicate the benefits and outcomes of your financial advice.

By proactively addressing the concern of reputation, you can reassure CPAs of your reliability and competence, making them more likely to refer clients to you with confidence.

“Is This Relationship Beneficial for My Clients?”

CPAs are deeply committed to their clients’ financial well-being. They carefully consider whether referring a client to a financial advisor will genuinely add value to their client’s financial lives. This concern stems from their legal duty to act in the best interests of their clients, ensuring that any referral they make is truly beneficial.

If a CPA feels that a financial advisor’s services are not significantly beneficial or relevant to their clients, they will hesitate to make the referral. Ensuring that your services provide clear and substantial value is key to gaining the trust and endorsement of CPAs. 

Clearly articulate the specific benefits your services offer to clients.

Demonstrating how your services directly address clients’ needs and goals can reassure CPAs that referring clients to you will enhance their financial well-being.

Talk about how your financial planning services complement the work that CPAs do. For instance, highlight how comprehensive financial planning can lead to better tax outcomes, more effective retirement planning, and improved overall financial health. Use case studies and examples to show the long-term value and positive impact of your services. Regularly sharing these insights with CPAs can help them see the added value you bring to their clients.

Bonus: “Will this advisor bring me clients?”

CPAs are not only concerned about referring clients to advisors but also consider the potential reciprocal benefits. They may wonder if partnering with a financial advisor could result in new clients being referred back to them. A mutually beneficial relationship where both parties refer clients to each other can be a strong motivator for CPAs to collaborate.

The potential for gaining new clients can significantly influence a CPA’s decision to establish a referral partnership. If a CPA believes that working with a financial advisor will also bring them new clients, they are more likely to invest in building that relationship.

CPAs are a goldmine when it comes to new prospects, and if you want to learn more about building a relationship with them, join the Retirement Tax Services Summit this fall. Steven Jarvis, CPA, the CEO of Retirement Tax Services, aims to bridge the gap between tax professionals, financial advisors, and their mutual clients to help reduce most people’s largest expense in retirement: taxes! 

Action Items

Offer to pay an hour to a CPA and make your best introduction to your work. 

Work on building mutually beneficial relationships with CPAs.

Join the Retirement Tax Services Summit.

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