Partnering with Certified Public Accountants

Written by Steve Scott

The goal of a successful partnership is mutual respect and caring for one another’s reality. RSG has long benefited by having many strategic partnerships that are based on us being a qualified plan resource to CPAs, Attorneys, high net worth advisors, benefit consultants, and other B2B professionals. We have been able to forge trust in these partnerships by understanding that this is not a favor it is an opportunity to make them look good by providing their client with an answer on something outside of their comfort zone.

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else up”
Booker T. Washington, American Educator

While helping people is a pretty basic concept. It is one more typically applied to charities and personal relationships we all possess. Business is supposed to be more cut throat, and all about the money right? But maybe the best way to a profitable business is by helping others and allowing the karma gods to provide good fortune back to you. The common phraseology for that is referrals.

Nationally Recognition Rooted in Partnership

We are proud of the achievements we have accomplished, especially recently where we have been nationally recognized and ranked as a top retirement plan consulting practice by organizations such as the Financial Times and National Association of Pension Administrators. But with the growth that has driven these recognitions, it is important to highlight we still, 15 years into this, do not have a true external sales team. We have survived and thrived on referrals from strategic partnerships.

RSG is an Extension of Your Team

The key is finding a highly skilled professional who has embraced the niche business model and supports the business owner and/or business executive community. The goal then is for us to become an extension of their team, offering detailed analysis and at times just an available ear to bounce a question or idea off of. The concept is simple, we provide a high end resource to people where it benefits their business to have that acumen be part of their extended team/client support model. We take no money, no finder’s fees… It is based on the simple idea that only do what you do well and support others who share you values.

There are many many examples of these partnerships over the years. But I wanted to highlight a few as we find ourselves in the holiday season. These are ways that we have supported our third party partners and they in return over the years felt thanks to us for these partnerships. But at the end, we too benefit by these thanks. Besides making us feel good, referrals from this network drives our growth year after year.

Supporting Like Minded CPAs

Here are a few small examples of ways we have tried to lend a hand to our Partners and their client.

  • There are few things that create stress for a CPA more than a client who has a tax bill coming that is noticeably higher than anticipated. Many clients at year end put together year-ending tax planning strategies with their CPA. Mine is scheduled for next week for the record. But when that “problem” presents itself, there is often little time left in the year. This happened with one of those partnerships recently, but luckily they had an idea. The friend of RSG had been invited to our recent defined benefit plan webinar. Though he was unable to attend the session, upon request we provided him with a recorded link and FAQs which he reviewed and then passed onto his client. The initial concern was timing, as historically these plans needed to be created by year end and it felt rushed for a client who was of the mindset to think through a six figure deduction strategy. But then we reminded the CPA that the rules had changed a bit, and actually had until the tax deadline in 2021 to create the benefit and take the deduction for 2020. That is our job, to provide the minutia details in our finite space while they manage the macro strategy. This is an active discussion that I believe will be a win for all parties.
  • Many CPAs and other advisors are asked to be essential partners during M&A activity. While their value on the overall strategy is the core driver of the process, smaller items like ERISA retirement plans can really make for problems and or added complexity. We recently supported a friend and partner as she guided a client through a transition of their business. By us asking questions on asset or stock purchase, impact to participants on trustee vs. participant directed rollovers and reviewing the required steps for plan termination vs. being absorbed by the acquirer, allowed the retirement plan to move from a pain point to being a separate project with clear parameters and timelines. Allowing the buyer and seller to make informed business decisions. And our CPA friend, she was able to focus on the big picture.
  • But sometimes a new client experience is seeing challenges that were not anticipated. Another recent issue we were asked to assist a CPA friend with had to do with a control group. The CPA, she was taking over the client and in assessing information worried there may be a control group and there was. After a bit of denial, we were able to bring enough support to the discussion to make the issue clear and offer solutions. None of them fun, and at times it makes for an awkward first experience. But with my 25 years experience, I believe it proved helpful reminding the client how fortunate they were that she discovered this issue now. This allowed them to manage the process and decide on a Voluntary Correction Program solution, Self-Correction, or other alternatives. It took a bit of back and forth, but at the end of the day the client is removing a huge liability, the CPA has immediately added value, and we have the opportunity to run a VCP consulting project.
Shared Success

The holidays are a time to say thanks. So with full sincerity, thank you to all the Partners that make us successful and hopefully we are a small part of your success.

To get a feel for what we do, please to sign up for our newsletter and/or review the recent webinar, Understanding Defined Benefit Retirement Plans. We believe in supporting “like minded” experts and would love to have you part of our RSG Partnership network.