Statistics show that one out of every two CPAs will offer financial services in the future to remain competitive.
How can you as an agent prospect successfully in the CPA market?
Over the past 10-15 years, larger CPA firms have incorporated insurance products and other consultative services into their practices. As a trusted advisor, a CPA giving advice about topics such as business succession planning, estate planning and the like has elevated the need for CPAs to gain additional knowledge about insurance options.
Larger firms have already established the insurance service in-house. Typically this occurs through some type of investment advisory group.
In contrast, smaller CPA firms don’t have internal insurance offerings; thus the opportunity exists for insurance agents to partner with this target audience.
History with a Twist
Previously CPAs would simply refer out all client insurance requirements to insurance agents in hopes that they would receive referrals. However, insurance agents have a difficult time recommending an accountant to a client, simply because those client conversations do not lend themselves to talking about those kinds of financial needs. Over time CPAs understood that they needed a different type of formalized partnership.
Proactive agents should evaluate ways to make the CPA partnership a reality. Agents need a proven methodology to introduce themselves to CPAs. Working with a verified appointment setting services is an effective way to jump-start the process.
Why CPAs are Good Partners
Best practices of the most successful CPA include the following: targeting high-net-worth clients; leverage existing clientele; offering a wide range of financial services and products; and utilizing outside consultants and resources. Most CPAs do not have the time or resources to provide the financial services that their clients are requesting. By partnering with agents, CPAs can leverage his or her time and expertise and offer additional services that will generate additional income at no additional cost.
Many CPAs have realized that it’s not only possible to expand services beyond tax, audit, and accounting, but it is very lucrative and encouraged by the American Institute of CPAs.
However, time restraints often prohibit CPAs from finding new revenue sources and thereby leaving significant dollars on the table. Swapping clients does not offer the financial gain to grow their business. Many CP
As are seeking a reciprocal business partnership; one where they still remain in control of the client relationship and the process.
Agents can offer a mutually beneficial relationship that positions the CPA as the primary advisor. CPA firms can easily understand that when they rely on outside providers for financial services they have much lower costs and therefore substantially higher profit margins. This is a perfect open door for an agent to walk through. Enter the Agent.
Selecting an Appointment Setting Service
Agents should consider partnering with an appointment-setting service that can successfully identify prospective small to mid-size accounting firm who are open to growth opportunities with insurance agents. As the agent, you predetermine what region they want to focus on for an “introduction” appointment.
Using an appointment service will streamline your efforts to reach the key CPA decision maker. Ask the service how they will represent you, and how they determine lead qualification. Some appointment services maintain a Quality Department to assure that appointments are qualified. The department might review every appointment-setting phone call to make sure that nothing misleading was conveyed during the conversation. It double-checks data provided by prospects — and gathers additional information if appointments haven’t been adequately qualified. Finally, the Quality Department may even cancel an appointment if research shows that the prospect doesn’t match the agent’s parameters.
On average, you should expect to rank 80% of your appointments as qualified or highly qualified prospects. It’s vital that you meet with a person who can make decisions for the CPA firm, typically a partner.
As each insurance group has a different process, there are many ways an agent and CPA can work together, i.e. a joint venture or referral agreement. Any number of partnership agreements can result. The whole idea is to develop a working agreement that is mutually rewarding to both parties.
Don’t underestimate the time it will take to establish a partnership with a CPA. It takes a relatively long period of time to develop the trust. This partnership needs some courting time, and it is not a one-meeting close. The payoff is that a partnership with a CPA can be highly productive in the long-term.
Most CPA clients are part of a referral network. It is a natural referral chain that smart insurance agents like to build. In fact, a recent survey of high-producing agents indicated that 90% of their business is a result of referrals.
If an agent can present knowledgeably to a CPA who has a question, that agent has a greater chance to be on the “list” of who the CPA calls for help. It only takes one case to show off what an agent can do.
What makes this approach unique? Many insurance companies have developed formal programs where they encourage agents to work with other professionals. The challenge continues to be how to identify those professionals and how to get those prospects in your date book for a face-to-face meeting.
There are key advantages for agents to explore this type of CPA alliance building, and the more-experienced agent will benefit the most. Unquestionably, a CPA doesn’t want to have an inexperienced person in front of his or her clients. They need agents who have the ability to offer smart solutions directly.
If you are an agent who is seeking new ideas for building your book of business, take a serious look at CPA partnerships.
Future of Accounting Firms
The American Institute of CPAs “Vision 2011” Survey shows that the accounting industry is poised for widespread change, with dramatic growth in the number of CPA firms providing financial services. Surveys show that existing clients are interested in obtaining financial services from their CPAs.
Over 75% of the CPAs who provide or expect to provide financial services do so in order to better serve their clients. CPAs see the addition of financial services as a “win-win” situation for both themselves and their clients. Today, an estimated 17% of CPAs have integrated financial services into their practice to keep pace with the business world, that figure is expected to grow to nearly 49% in three years.
The CPA numbers are in your favor. Make them work for you.