A Tale of Two Accounting Firms: Making Sure Your CPA is Approaching Your Business and Personal Finances Holistically

by Laura K. Watkins, BMSS, Marketing Manager

Imagine you are presented with the option of hiring one of two types of fitness trainers. Since we’re approaching warmer weather and trips to the neighborhood pool or the beach, this scenario may be more realistic than hypothetical. The  first trainer is extremely professional. She arrives to your appointments on time; she is prepared with your workout plans. She does an in-depth review of how your heart rate, weight, strength and flexibility have fluctuated over the past five years. Her training is based on these figures from the past.

Then you meet the second trainer. She too is extremely professional, arrives on time and makes sure you are finished in a timely manner. She also asks about how your measurements (heart rate, weight, etc.) have changed throughout the years.

But this is just the beginning of her assessment.

She then spends the next hour asking what your fitness and wellness goals are for the future. She wants to know what you are currently doing to achieve those goals. What are you eating? What do your workouts look like? What are your weaknesses and pitfalls that keep you from achieving your goals? Finally, you work together to create a step-by-step plan to make sure your goals are achieved.

You’re probably wondering how this analogy relates to assuring your accounting firm is making decisions in your best interest and from a holistic perspective?

TRANSITIONING FROM HISTORIAN TO PROACTIVE ADVISOR

Accounting is often thought of as a historical profession. An accountant shows their client how well they’ve done with financial decisions from the previous year. Most CPAs are, like the first trainer, friendly and prompt. They will, most  likely, do an excellent job reporting on how you and your business did the last year and produce a flaw-free tax return for you.

But what about this current year? And, what about your future financial goals in years to come?

“Clients don’t come to our firm for us to just be historians,” said Barfield Murphy Shank & Smith Founding Partner John Shank. “They want a proactive advisor who is in the trenches with them.”

Today’s world moves so fast that clients need someone to help them stay up with the pace of change. In addition to tax and auditing services, clients need an accounting firm that has the bandwidth to advise on an array of additional services such as management goals, sources of capital, human resources and information technology.

Over the past decade, BMSS has seen a growing need to provide its clients with services from a holistic approach. “We’ve taken proactive steps including:  1.) expanding our internal resources and services; 2.) adding sister companies Abacus IT, Payroll Benefit Solutions (PBS) and wealth advisory firm, BMSS Wesson 3.) and maintaining a strong partnership with the BDO Alliance,” said Shank.

This preparation, these partnerships and these solutions help provide an essential resource for you in the event unforeseen issues arise.

Recently, BMSS launched Client 361, a program tailored specifically to your personal and business needs. Client 361 provides a deep dive into areas of your business that may currently be unrealized or even neglected. As the client, you will be asked a series of questions, broken down by categories including Management Goals & Objectives, Products & Services, and Personal Financial Well-Being. Then, your CPA will ascertain next steps and tools for you to be successful in meeting your goals.

The detailed process can be broken down into multiple sessions. For example, you could set up quarterly meetings to dig into each area of your business and personal finances so that you can have a robust plan to serve you and your business’ needs for years to come.

“At BMSS, our focus is not on selling products, accumulating hours or making revenue,” said BMSS Consultant Merrill Johnston, Jr. “Instead, our priority is creating peace of mind for our clients. The type of questions we ask in our Client 361 program are strategic and thought-provoking for a business owner. The answers and information we glean from going through the Client 361 process will help us provide the specific solutions and tools to meet the individual clients’ needs. We don’t believe in a blanket, one-size-fits-all approach.”

So, back to the selection process analogy. Given the opportunity to decide between a good old-fashioned CPA firm or a firm that is dedicated to not just serving your basic accounting and assurance needs, but one that is prepared to help you meet your future goals and provide you with guidance along the way, which one will you choose?

We have a good guess you are going to go with the second accounting firm.

For more information and to begin your Client 361 process, call your BMSS CPA today. We’ll set up a time to walk you through a series of important questions to learn your goals as well as your pain points.