For certified public accountants (CPAs) who are looking to align themselves with a financial advisor, it can feel akin to putting out a dating ad in the newspaper.
But a hypothetical dating ad might be a helpful way to think of the process, to an extent. This is a partnership that you are entering into, after all, and hopefully it will be a long-term and fruitful one for both parties.
When we connect a financial advisor and CPA through our CPA Alliance, we encourage our financial advisors to act as a “guest in the CPA’s home.” The meaning being that they should be respectful of the relationships that the CPA has built with their clients and provide additive valuable services to the clients of the CPA .
For CPAs who are scouring the landscape for their perfect financial advisor match, here are some key factors to keep in mind.
1. Independent or not
Know whether an advisor is truly independent ornot. It’s important for you to be aware of what their potential motivations are when they are offering their clients advice, and what kind of business model they work within.
2. Business owner or advisor network
Is the advisor you are interested in part of a network or a are they a solo practitioner? Those who have compliance and marketing support, among other things, will better understand the financial landscape and complexities such as state and Securities and Exchange Commission regulations to the fullest extent. This is especially important if you have clients in more than one state, given that each state has its own set of regulatory requirements.
3. Methodology and work style
Consider the advisor’s methodology and work style. You need to find someone who aligns well with the culture of your practice and the way in which you work best. This is a time where opposites do not attract – or at least, do not tend to work in the long term. For example, if they segment their clients and you don’t -- no sparks will fly.
4. Commitment issues?
Will they pull their weight in this partnership? If you get a financial advisor who comes to you suggesting that they’d like you to refer clients their way but can’t suggest what kind of clients they think would make a good fit for their practice, and vice versa which of their clients would benefit most from your services, you know you’ll be entering a one-way street relationship that leaves you high and dry. Get a sense of what the financial advisor can deliver for their part in this alliance, and make sure they are ready to be in a committed partnership.
5. Personality compatibility
Does their personality suit you? While this isn’t a marriage or roommate so you don’t have to get to the granular level of whether the way they brush their teeth drives you nuts, if there are traits that person exhibits that bring up red flags, that may be a reason to pause and reflect. One thing we’ve found helpful and a good way to set the tone of the partnership is we have both the financial advisor and CPA sign a memorandum of understanding at the outset of their relationship outlining what’s expected of both parties before they begin their work together. This has been a useful way to show both parties that they are being held accountable to certain standards.
6. First impressions matter
Did they wow you on the “first date?” While we wouldn’t advise falling in love with the person, there is a portion of finding a right business partnership that requires having a good gut feeling about them. If you were underwhelmed when you met with that person, reflect on what the reason for that was. Was it just an “off day” or is this the first day of the rest of your relationship? If you “love” the person after the first meeting, reflect on that critically as well. Did they have a charismatic personality and outline a valuable set of deliverables they could bring to supporting the growth and success of your business? Or were they just trying to close the deal? People often bring their best to a first date, and the same is true of business. Look to this introductory meeting if you need a gut check.
Now that we’ve entered the world of remote work, the pool of financial advisors you can consider when searching for that perfect match only needs to be in the same time zone as you. There have never been so many fish in the sea -- the odds of finding “the one” are greater than ever.
I hope that as you open your horizons to new possible partnerships this advice will help you find a partner that helps complete your ideal practice who you can celebrate anniversaries with for years to come.