How advisors can prove their worth during tax season

Expert reveals her top tip for dealing with clients as return deadline approaches

How advisors can prove their worth during tax season

Tax season is in full swing and advisors should embrace it as a chance to prove their value to clients, according to an industry insider.

With individuals and businesses clamouring to get their 2017 returns in order before the Canada Revenue Agency’s April 30 deadline, advisors are often inundated with requests and demands.

Rona Birenbaum, financial planner and founder of Caring for Clients, said that her top tip for peers is to be responsive.

She said: “The reason why a client works with an advisor and stays with an advisor is because they trust them and they provide a very high level of service.

“This time of year provides a perfect opportunity to deliver on that service commitment. So rather than view it as a burdensome time of year, I think the best advice would be to see this an opportunity to be able to prove your worth, add value and solidify the client relationship.”

Birenbaum’s firm do not do tax returns in-house but it does advise clients about how to make the process easier, often ensuring they are directed to the right book keeper or accountant.

She urged investors to take advantage of the autofill section the CRA offers, which helps accountants and clients identify if they are missing anything amid the flurry of slips and receipts.

With regards to snowbirds, for example, Birenbaum also requests duplicates of everything so that they can be shared with their accountant and they can get back to enjoying the beach.

The most stressed clients, Birenbaum said, are often business owners and, in particular, new entrepreneurs who need help getting systems put in place.

She said: “For the most organised business owners it can be quite straightforward. For newer business owners or newer entrepreneurs it can actually be a stressful or overwhelming experience.

“If any of our clients move from a traditional employee to become the sole proprietor or an incorporated business owner, we spend a fair amount of time with them upfront helping them get the systems in place to ensure tax filing time is as organised and stress-free as possible.

“It means them separating business and personal, banking and credit cards; encouraging them to work with a book keeper or put them in the hands of a good accountant that can help them set up a system. Thay was they aren’t scrambling at the last minute to try to figure out their expenses and their income and all the rest of it.”