What Is Concierge Accounting?
Concierge CPAs are the newest trend in the accounting business, which otherwise hasn't changed much in the past century. Concierge CPAs cater to an exclusive client list, providing a level of personalized attention and financial advice formerly reserved for high net worth families.
1. Concierge Services Are on the Rise Nationwide
The concierge CPA business model is similar to the idea behind concierge medicine. Primary care physicians who are frustrated by crushing workloads are dramatically reducing their patient lists, charging an annual membership fee, and providing highly personalized care to their VIP patients.
Doctors who convert their practices to the concierge model frequently report being able to spend more time with their patients, even those they've had for years. As a result, the doctors can give them more attention and better quality care.
At least 12,000 licensed physicians have converted to the concierge medical model in recent years, and that number is growing alongside the increasing popularity of concierge services.
According to a recent industry survey, patient satisfaction is as much as twice as high under the concierge medicine model. A similar phenomenon is happening in the accounting world with the advent of concierge CPA services.
2. There's No Such Thing As One-Size-Fits-All Financial Advice
The biggest reason most people build a relationship with a concierge CPA is to receive highly individualized financial advice. They provide personalized recommendations that most CPAs don't have time for.
Traditional CPAs may only deliver a tax return. They usually do not coordinate with your attorney or financial adviser. As a result, the CPA may have one plan for you, while your financial adviser has another, and your attorney has a third plan. The result is often a financial mess.
But concierge CPAs spend more time getting to know you and diving deeper into your specific goals. They set up regular strategy meetings with your attorney and your financial adviser to analyze the specifics of your situation. As a result, the essential members of your financial team work together, and you benefit from higher-quality guidance targeted to your specific needs.
3. You Should Be Talking to Your CPA More (and Now You Can)
At first glance, being able to speed-dial your CPA without an appointment may not seem all that important. After all, what do you need to talk about when you aren't filing your taxes?
Plenty. Every large financial move you make has significant tax ramifications. Whenever you finance a car, close on a new house, or sell an investment property, you make choices that could cost you (or save you) thousands of dollars in taxes.
Unfortunately, most people don't find out whether they have made a tax blunder until it comes time to file their taxes. By then, it's too late. But with a concierge CPA, you can know beforehand what steps you need to take to minimize your tax burden.
A concierge CPA can also help you set your long-term financial goals, stick to a personal budget and visualize how your current spending will have ripple effects over time.
4. Concierge CPAs Have Fewer Clients for a Reason
Most traditional CPAs may deal with up to 300 clients or more at a time. Because these CPA offices are slammed, they must process the tax returns as quickly as possible. Much of the work they do for their clients is actually handled by the staff who prepare the return based on the contents of the file.
The CPA then reviews the items for correctness, and makes recommendations for the future whenever possible. But by that point, they are more properly recording historical transactions, and there isn't much planning that can be done after the fact.
Concierge CPAs operate differently. They limit their practice to about half the number of clients, so that they can devote twice as much time to each one. Their deliberately trimmed-down client list allows them to focus their full attention on each client, not just as a tax preparer, but as an involved member of their financial team.
This is great news for their existing clients. But if you don't already have a working relationship with a concierge CPA, it may be difficult to become a new client unless they have an opening.
Questions to Ask a Concierge Accountant
Before you take on a concierge CPA membership, meet with the CPA in person to see whether you're a good match. During the meeting, ask three important questions:
- Are you currently accepting new clients?
Because concierge CPAs limit the number of clients they take on, you could end up on a wait list.
- What kinds of services are included?
Some concierge CPAs provide regular personal financial statements, special protection programs in the event of a tax audit, or discounts on their regular billing fees. Others offer free webinars, access to financial resources around the clock, or a referral database for nearly anything that involves numbers. Find out exactly what's included in your membership.
- What is the membership fee?
The typical concierge CPA membership starts at $1,800 annually. By comparison, the average American spends $1,942 on coffee and soft drinks every year.
While the additional fees of concierge CPA services may not be for everyone, there are advantages. Clients often find that the increased personalized attention results in overall savings to their bottom line. Plus, there's the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your finances are in good hands. That knowledge can be priceless.
The concierge accounting industry is relatively new, and companies such as VIPCPA.com are the first to market. Ultimately, the decision whether to choose a concierge CPA depends on the benefits you receive, and how they fit in with your financial goals.