In this episode of the Perfect RIA Podcast
Important Show Note/Disclaimer: When Micah discussed doing paperwork for ROTH conversions/rollovers, he was referring to establishing standing instructions for the client with the custodian so that if a rollover is needed, the ‘link’ and permission has already been established. Micah was NOT suggesting that you have clients sign paperwork that is held until needed. This would be a huge compliance issue that we strongly discourage.
One of the most important aspects of tax planning is generating a measurable representation of the value you are bringing your client.
To do this, you first need a working expertise of taxes. And secondly, you need to be able to enumerate to clients the amount of money you are saving them through tax benefits.
As Matt and Micah state in the episode, clients are often exponentially happier to save money on taxes, even if the amount is less than their net gain through a traditional route. The perception is different and translated differently in client satisfaction.
And of course, taxes are an area that many RIAs fail to invest the required energy: either from a lack of knowledge or the false assumption that taxes are out of the registered investment advisor’s purview.
So, from a macroscopic perspective, the two most important takeaways of this episode are: know your taxes, and learn to communicate them effectively and confidently to clients.
Knowledge is Power
Near the end of the episode, Matt and Micah give a considerable amount of resources for learning about taxes. And with that said, learning the nuances of the subject should be a continual pursuit.
Matt states that you can’t expect to go in and learn everything there is to know about taxes right away. It takes time and practice. But as he also warns that taxes are not something to take lightly.
You cannot ‘fake it till you make it’ with taxes. And also, you cannot expect to impart confidence to your clients when you don’t understand what you preach.
With knowledge comes confidence, which ultimately will translate to the practice of saving your clients money through the strategic planning and timing of taxes around asset sales, charitable considerations with QCDs, Roth Conversions for income distribution in tax brackets, and the list goes on.
So, before you get deeply involved with clients and tax planning, you need to know the subject completely! And once you do, you can truly start to plan and strategically structure benchmarks for achieving massive value through tax benefits.
Once you have gained the necessary expertise, you still need to ensure your clients understand what you are saying.
Communication With Clients
So, you have a great deal of knowledge on taxes. Maybe you went to a seminar, you brushed up on things you already knew, or you went into the discipline fully immersed.
Regardless, it doesn’t matter if you are the world’s leading expert on the field, you need to learn a way to distill and communicate the information effectively to clients.
For example, take the tax return that Matt and Micah have discussed as vital for tax planning purposes.
You could ask for a client’s return with a vague explanation of how important it is, or you could take the extra effort, walk the extra mile, and give them a succinct, measurable explanation for why you need their tax return.
As Matt and Micah state, the client should be chomping at the bit to supply their tax return because they understand just how much money they can save on tax breaks with your help!
So, after you have the knowledge and communication skills necessary, making a 30+ year tax plan should be on the horizon for all of your clients. Including consideration of asset sales, charitable contributions, and Roth conversions. There are so many avenues to explore for saving a client money through taxes. Don’t pass up the opportunity!
Really amazing stuff in this episode that delves far deeper than this blog post has. Matthew and Micah share real examples and experiences in their own practice that is best heard in the context of the episode! Awesome episode, and as always, a great resource for you and your practice.