Fighting for your client's attention

Do you find yourself butting heads with your client's accountant, especially during tax season? An advisor, who has encountered just that, shares his remedy.

Fighting for your client's attention
Accountants inevitably steal the attention of your clients, says one Toronto advisor – particularly during tax season.
“The client’s most trusted advisor is the accountant. That’s always the case from what I have seen,” says Mike Lakhani of Tax Matters for Dentists (TMFD). “No matter what anybody says, I still say the client has more respect for the accountant than they do for the advisor.”
Lakhani believes this is the case for a couple of reasons – one, the Canadian system promotes the use of accountants more than financial advisors; and two, accountants tend to take more control over their clients than other wealth management professionals. “Even in regards to the most typical of things that a financial advisor does, they (the clients) tend to turn to the accountant,” he says.

Believing this perceived hierarchy will never change, Lakhani decided to set-up shop with advisors and accountants working side-by-side. At his firm, TMFD, advisors, accountants and clients work in tandem, attending joint meetings to ensure all parties are on the same page.
“Counseling is kept separate. It can’t be the same outfit doing both the work,” he says. “We stay close, in touch and together. It is very much to the client’s benefit.”

If the advisor and accountant are not on par, Lakhani says it can wreak havoc for the client. He attributes this to their differing perspectives. Financial planners, he says, are thinking longer term about a client’s financial health, while accountants are focused specifically on numbers from the current, and even the previous, years. “(The accountant) has no clue about (the client’s) personal situation, his long-term goals or his retirement plans,” he says.

Lackhani believes, ultimately, it comes down communication and education for the client. “The client needs to be aware of what the accountant actually does,” he says. “They trust the advisor and they trust the accountant not knowing that they have to work together.”

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