“Little ditty ‘bout Jack and Diane” – John Mellencamp
Jack is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). He is a “numbers guy” and excels at execution upon his clients’ requests. He takes a more passive and siloed approach and believes his clients prefer to be left alone. Jack reaches out to them only a few times a year — mainly around tax season — to gather information he needs to do his job. Jack is a very accurate “historian” for his clients.
Diane is also a CPA. She engages with her clients many times throughout the calendar year, seeking out tax saving opportunities for her clients. She finds this strategy results in fewer “surprises” at tax time and greater value-add. Diane views herself as an active and inquisitive “consultant” to her clients, and a CPA of strong integrity.
Is Jack or Diane the Better CPA for You?
There is no one-size-fits all answer to this question.
Many very good CPAs like Jack are siloed and more historian-like because that is the nature of their day-to-day work. As a result, they could be more reactive than proactive with their clients at times. Could Jack be all you really need in a CPA? Possibly. Could you be leaving financial opportunities on the table with a CPA like Jack who may tend to execute upon request and look backward versus forward? Absolutely.
At Modera Wealth Management, we prefer CPAs like Diane who are more consultative in their approach. Modera has teamed up well with CPAs like Diane who communicate with us when they anticipate changes in your income tax status or business activity.
A Modera-Led Financial Team Approach
As the quarterback of your overall financial plan, Modera Wealth Management and your CPA work best for you when marching down the field together. There are several examples of how using a CPA like Diane and her more consultative approach can help your entire financial team seamlessly identify and address changing events that pose both financial opportunities and risks to you:
Personal Income Tax Withholdings: Perhaps you or your spouse are newly employed or unemployed. This is important information for both your CPA and Modera to know as quickly as possible so we can help you determine (or redetermine) the appropriate level of income tax withholding from your paychecks, while making other nearer-term adjustments to your overall financial plan, as needed.
Business Taxes: Your business income may be lumpy and unpredictable. Perhaps this year’s income is not tracking at the same pace as last year. Your CPA should be regularly discussing with you the changing trends in your business that could affect its future tax status, as well as what you can be doing during the year to reduce your eventual tax liability.
Retirement Plan Contributions or Withdrawals: Changes in your business, employment, or income status can also influence the amount you can save for retirement each year. For example, if your LLC has an unusually strong quarter or year, your CPA can work with Modera to suggest and implement strategies for your business’ retirement plan to best optimize your personal income tax situation.
Business PPE transactions: The time may be right to make significant purchases of new equipment or property for your business. Your CPA can advise you about best timing and appropriate depreciation of such property for your business before you make any purchase decisions.
Buying or Selling a Business: Your CPA can gather information and help you make important business acquisition and disposition decisions. This could include determining an appropriate corporate structure for a business acquisition or sale, estimating a valuation for a business, or gathering or recasting financial statements.
Inheritance: Are you anticipating a large inheritance? Your Modera wealth manager can coordinate with your CPA on estate planning issues and action plans to best prepare for this event. With this team approach, your CPA can also get a head start on categorizing any potential inherited property to best determine the possible impact on your income taxes before the event occurs.
Divorce: Life happens and relationships change. In the event of divorce, your CPA might advise you on potential tax consequences and coordinate with Modera on other potential financial planning issues such as alimony and child support payments.
Relocation: Moving to another state or country? Depending on your situation, this could have significant tax and other financial implications for you or your business. Both Modera and your CPA can help you plan for these potential impacts of relocation long before you pull the trigger.
A great consultative CPA like Diane can be worth her weight in gold. Whether it is for your own personal finances or the books of your growing business, a proactive CPA can be a key part of your financial team.
At Modera, we are always here to help you coordinate with your CPA and other professionals to ensure your team is anticipating and serving your needs for your future, rather than only reacting to your past. Please get in touch if you would like to start a conversation with us.
Modera Wealth Management, LLC (“Modera”) is an SEC-registered investment advisor with places of business in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Modera may only transact business in those states in which it is registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration requirements. SEC registration does not imply any level of skill or training. For information pertaining to our registration status, fees and services, please contact us or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure web site (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov) to obtain a copy of our disclosure statement set forth in Form ADV Part 2A. Please read the disclosure statement carefully before you invest or send money.
This article is limited to the dissemination of general information about Modera’s investment advisory and financial planning services that is not suitable for everyone. Nothing herein should be interpreted or construed as investment advice nor as legal, tax or accounting advice nor as personalized financial planning, tax planning or wealth management advice. For legal, tax and accounting-related matters, we recommend you seek the advice of a qualified attorney or accountant. This article is not a substitute for personalized investment or financial planning from Modera. There is no guarantee that the views and opinions expressed herein will come to pass, and the information herein should not be considered a solicitation to engage in a particular investment or financial planning strategy. The statements, information and opinions expressed in this article are subject to change without notice.
Investing in the markets involves gains and losses and may not be suitable for all investors and should not be considered a solicitation to buy or sell any security or to engage in a particular investment or financial planning strategy. Individual client asset allocations and investment strategies differ based on varying degrees of diversification and other factors. Diversification does not guarantee a profit or guarantee against a loss.