By: John P. Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST

Most of you probably think that this article is about investments, and it is. But not investments that you’d recommend for your retirement account or a client — it is about your investment in the financial planning business.

CPA firms are all over the map when it comes to offering financial planning services. Some want nothing to do with it, some are still thinking about launching an initiative, some are happy to keep it as a small division merely adding to cash flow, and others are thriving and growing that practice as fast as or faster than the core accounting business. Whichever route you choose, sticking your head in the sand and pretending that this type of service never existed could be a bad decision.

Let’s begin with those who want nothing to do with providing personal financial planning services. Even in this category, I’ve seen firms behave quite differently. Many of them hold their clients out as bait to entice accounting referrals from financial professionals. If you are a super networker and feel that this is in your clients’ best interests to trade them for referrals and introductions, then knock yourself out. But my wish for the profession is that firms who do not want to perform advisory services perform enough due diligence on prospective service firms for their clients to make an intelligent introduction. Who sent you your most recent great accounting referral is important, but not important enough to lay your clients’ financial future in their hands. As you may know from reading these columns, investing and performance are important, but not to the detriment of all of the other significant moving parts that encompass a proactive and holistic wealth management relationship. What good is great performance if your accounts are mistitled, your estate is a mess, and your clients have no plan for family governance or business succession beyond their lifetime?

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