CPAs and EAs must understand and quantify the threat from artificial intelligence and its related trend, commodification. The wise tax pro will use this time between tax seasons to turn those threats into opportunities.
The Certified Public Accountant or Enrolled Agent operates in much the same way a medical doctor does. But the healthcare industry and the financial services juggernaut are two very different environments. While the doctor’s prescriptions are typically filled with total concern for the patient, the sales-dominated world of wealth management is riddled with conflict.
Before letting low-billing tax preparation clients go in favor of more robust client relationships, tax pros should carefully assess the potential in every relationship. Here are some do and don’ts to make sure you don’t inadvertently say good-bye to real long-term value.
Artificial Intelligence is a tool for accounting, as a hammer is a tool for carpenters. AI isn’t your competitor; other accountants are.
Tax pros don’t need—or want—more tax prep clients. They need better ones. A better client will do all kinds of wonderful things for you, and the best news is that your existing clientele is eager to become better for you.
Threats to the accounting industry are nothing new. CPAs and EAs should view artificial intelligence as a productivity tool, one that allows them to focus on more profitable and margin rich activities, like strategic planning and implementation consulting.
I wanted real-life experience. What would the experience be like? Would it be faster, easier, less hassle, and more on my terms, or was this all about price? Was TurboTax NetJets or Spirit Airlines? Would I get nickel-and-dimed? Would there be any surprises? I determined I would be the guinea pig, and I would let my partners, colleagues, and friends know about my experience using TurboTax’s live full-service tax review.
The Stoics of Ancient Rome believed that the universe is subject to logic, law and reason, which they called the logos, or underlying truth. The entrepreneurial tax professional who applies logos for their clients will be doing the clients — and themselves, a big favor.
If you want to win Wimbledon, find out what Serena Williams has for breakfast. If you want truly satisfied wealth management clients, emulate the family office model and put tax pros in key positions.
The tax professional’s unique position, a combination of deep knowledge of the client’s financial situation and inherent trustedness, gives them the opportunity to reap substantial rewards by expanding the scope of their offers, but the risks entailed are significant. The trick is to stay in the role of true fiduciary—and not try to engage in salesmanship.