Problem Clients Are Opportunity Clients

Overstuffed and overflowing files3 steps to making their lives easier.

By CPA Trendlines

You know who we’re talking about here. They show up in early April with everything you need to prepare their taxes. But it isn’t on a CD. It’s in a soaking-wet shoebox. Or they’ve got everything ready on January 2, except it turns out they aren’t sure whether they made their quarterly IRS payment last July. Or when you ask for their total payroll tax paid, they say, “Payroll tax?”

Or their numbers just don’t add up. Or they desperately need a refund this year, no matter what. Or they say they’ll get back to you but don’t. Or they keep asking your for legal advice. Or they just don’t have time, what with Mom and her broken hip, the kid needing to be picked up from ballet class, the dog that needs to go for a walk at 5:30 or else. Or they can’t get their capital gains records from their financial advisor…guy named Madoff…he just disappeared!


19 Ways to Better Networking: Be the Nerve Center

Businesswoman working on laptop giving thumbs up sign5 reasons to reorient your networking.

By CPA Trendlines

Last century’s networking model still works and is still worth doing, but you can do better in the 21st century by inverting the old model. Rather than going to the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary meetings to promote your services, go with the intention of gathering other people’s services.

As a CPA, you, more than anyone else, are at the center of local business. You know more about a bunch of businesses – your clients – than virtually anyone else. You know what they’re doing. You know what they need. And they most certainly need far more than what your firm offers.

But your firm can offer more. You can offer the services of dozens of indirectly related companies and professionals, among them:

8 Steps to Gaining a Client by Helping a Client

Three climbers helping each other up a hillThis is one of those times when a small investment pays a big return.

By CPA Trendlines

Nobody knows your clients like you know your clients. You know them from deep inside. Even a simple tax prep gives you insight into the nature of a business – its services, its efficiency, its growth or stagnancy, its honesty and dependability. Some of this you can glean from the process of tax preparation, audits and such, but it also comes from the chats you have with the client during the course of the year.

As you have certainly noticed, none of your clients run a perfect business. They could all be more efficient. They could all come closer to their potential. They could all use something that you can help provide – even if it’s not one of your services.

DO NOT Embrace These Changes

… unless you want to grow your business.

By Wesley Middleton
Middleton Raines LLP

This is not only directed at the profession of CPAs of which I am a proud member, but to the clients we serve. I see so many posts on how we need to change and evolve that I am almost disgusted. We have what everyone wants: trust. The absolute trust of our clients. More than doctors, more than lawyers, more than any profession that I can think of. And we need to evolve? What we should do is NOT lose it!

RELATED: Why My People Take 5 Days Off (Yes, in a Row) | Four Major Misconceptions about Millennials

Well, yes, we do need to evolve. But not from the perspective of being more to our clients than what we are. It is our business model that must evolve as CPAs.

It’s Not Always about Money: 16 Tweaks for Your Comp System


When you’re weeding out, make sure you’re asking the right questions.

By August Aquila
Creating the Effective Partnership

If your partners are putting up a fight to keep clients who should be let go, take a look at your compensation system. It’s not just about billable hours.

MORE on LEADERSHIP for PRO Members: 5 Questions About Your Firm’s Direction | 6 Reasons to Keep Partners from Retiring | 6 Reasons Why CPA Firms Fail in Innovation | 6 Steps to Handle Staffing Problems in a Merger | 7 Signs Your Firm Is Headed for an Implosion | Eight Key Goal Areas for Partners | Like Herding Cats: Partners Must ‘Walk Together’ | Managing Partners Must Remember Partners’ Needs | New Times Call for New CPA Firm Metrics | Partners Have Love-Hate Relationship with Leadership | Six Tips for Leaders in Tax and Accounting | The 8-Point Financial Tune-Up for Your Accounting Firm | Three Ways to Run a Firm: But Only One Is Sustainable | What Does Being a Partner Mean?

Here are 16 tweaks to your firm’s compensation system. While the list is not exhaustive, it does provide criteria that firms can consider beyond revenue. READ MORE →

25 Things Customers Love

The best strategies from the best companies.

By Arnold Sanow

Arnold Sanow

In today’s fast-changing and competitive environment, excellent customer service is not only nice but essential for success.

In fact, the only way to differentiate yourself and to become less of a commodity in the marketplace is through outstanding customer service.

After studying more than 500 companies and organizations – as diverse as Lexus/Toyota, Bristol Meyers Squibb, Lockheed Martin, Homeland Security, Forever Broadcasting, The Medical College of Georgia, Aspen Institute, Marin County Realtors Association, and Choice Hotels – a few strategies emerge again and again.

Here are 25 of the best practices used by some of the world’s best companies to get new customers, keep them, and turn them in enthusiastic fans and referral sources: READ MORE →

Check Yourself: How to Reality-Test Client Satisfaction Levels

Arnold Sanow

To keep both your staffers and clients happy, tax and accounting firms need to gain a thorough understanding of their perceptions and perspectives — and to make they align.

Customer service guru Arnold Sanow suggests 15 questions to ask yourself, your staff, and, above all, your customers. serviceThe biggest opportunities will surface when you compare and contrast their responses.

Be prepared for an eye-opening, sometimes gut-wrenching, exercise in hard truth: READ MORE →

Enhancing Client Financial Health through Collaborative Services

Clients benefit when CPAs and investment advisors work together.

By Martin E. Levine, ChFC, CPA, MBA
4Thought Financial Group, Inc.        

Martin Levine 4Thought

Even if the client isn’t always right, helping clients understand and make the best financial decisions is always the right course of action. 

CPAs understand the implications of financial decisions and strive to advise clients in ways that improve their financial well-being.  However, clients frequently have multiple – sometimes conflicting – financial goals, and use other financial professionals, including financial advisors, attorneys and business consultants, to achieve them.  READ MORE →

Will Obamacare Penalties Kill Your Small Business Clients?

drug in syringe on white background

Fines run $100 per day, per employee.

By Stephen L. Nelson, CPA
and Elizabeth C. Nelson, CPA

Small Business and the Affordable Care Act

By now, many of your small business clients understand they don’t have to provide employees with health insurance. The employer mandate starts when a firm employs 50 or more full-time-equivalent employees.

But here’s an awkward follow-up question: Do your small business clients understand that many of the ACA’s rules still apply to them and that they may still be vulnerable to the ACA’s 4980D excise tax penalty—which runs $100 per day per employee?

LEARN MORE: Small Businesses and the Affordable Care Act: What Every Tax Practitioner Needs to Know (55-page PDF digital download)

Can We Talk IRC Code Sections?

People sometimes hear references to the 4980D penalty and scoff, say you can’t believe everything you hear on talk radio or read at some blog. So let’s look at the actual Internal Revenue Code Section in question.

Here are the first few sentences of IRC Sec 4980D: READ MORE →