How can you use tax time for annual client check-ins?

Here are some tips for turning annual tax filings into annual financial reviews

How can you use tax time for annual client check-ins?

Annual tax time is a great time for advisors to trigger annual financial planning conversations with their clients to ensure that they’re providing the best and fullest service, says one advisor.

“Tax time is an annual reminder that you need to plan for your taxes and file them,” Elke Rubach, founder and Principal of Rubach Wealth, told Wealth Professional. “But, it’s also an opportunity for advisors to sit down with their clients and say, ‘Okay, what else? Let’s look at the whole thing.

“Do you have a plan? Is it still valid? Do you have life insurance, and how does it fit in with your plan? What are you thinking about your money, your wealth, and your career?’ It’s an opportunity to revisit everything and see if these assumptions are still valid or your clients have changed their minds on anything. ‘What’s still important to you? What’s the right asset management diversification? Do you have a tax plan behind this? Do you understand what’s going on?”

Having those discussions allows the advisor to also start working with the client’s accountant or other professional support. It also allows them to talk to both members of a couple, ensuring that they include the women, as well as men, in their discussions and ensure that they have asked all their questions. 

“I want women, in particular, to sit down and look at what’s being proposed,” added Rubach. “Does it make sense to them? Does it resonate? Do they know exactly how it’s all working?”

Rubach, who offers fee-for-service financial planning, said financial advisors need to be less order takers and more advisors servicing their clients, looking for the best rate of return or most efficient tax savings plan, but also at their clients’ financial picture from every angle.

“You need to empower your clients, but also hold them to more accountability. You’re doing much more of a service to your client if you teach them how to be accountable,” she said. “But, it’s also important that you, as a financial advisor, stand your ground and say, ‘no, this doesn’t fly’. You told me this and this was important to you, and this won’t work like that.’”

If clients don’t want to have that discussion, tax time could also be a time for advisors to winnow their client lists so that they continue to be well matched with their clients.   

“We want to normalize the conversation around money and find efficiencies, but also meet their tax advisors and synchronize the whole thing,” said Rubach. “We want to understand everything to ensure that we’re giving them the best advice and helping our clients be accountable.”