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5 Ways accountants can charge high retainers

Written by
Accountant Hustle
Published on
April 28, 2024

If you’re starting or growing your own accounting, bookkeeping, or tax firm, I want you to know that there’s an excellent business model that allows you to charge flat monthly fees rather than hourly or year-end service. If you’re wondering how to run a super profitable accounting firm, or if you’re trying to attract and close more high-paying business clients for your bookkeeping business or CPA firm, then I’m going to talk to you about the Outsourced Accounting Model.

Here are a couple of other resources you might want to read about how to get clients for your accounting firm or bookkeeping business. There’s a decent article from Gusto here, Xero has another resource to look at and you’d also like what Feedbackwrench wrote about how they design websites, as well as what Canopy has written.

It all started back in 2012 when I was a financial representative at Thrivent Financial.

I had about 8 years of retail experience, and I was excited to be a mix of helping Christians be wise with their money, but Thrivent Financial is unfortunately a place with mediocre financial products, and extremely high fees for those products.

I was a bit miffed at what to do, so I started paying attention to the other financial representatives around me and seeing what they were doing to have success.

What I saw was a group doing estate planning seminars, with tax planning, to 3M employees here in the Twin Cities, and the other thing I saw was advisors kind of posing as tax experts.

Our business model was frustrating because we would add a ton of value in terms of planning and advice, and then we’d have to get them to either roll money over to us, purchase insurance, or if we were outside the norm, charge a planning fee (which Thrivent would take HALF from you).

These advisors would give advice on tax brackets, the various tax qualifications of money, and talk about estate planning because they knew those people had wealth and rich people problems.

If nobody rolled assets to you or bought insurance, we would not make anything!

Well, I decided that I liked what I had been learning about tax planning, so I set out on a mission to learn as much as possible about tax planning as possible.

The Best Books about Tax Planning: here are some of the best books you can read about tax planning, particularly to give your specific ways to reduce people’s taxes & provide pro-active, tax reduction planning.

  • The Gospel of Roth Amazon
  • Tax-Free Wealth: How to Build Massive Wealth by Permanently Lowering Your Taxes (Rich Dad Advisors) by Tom Wheelwright
  • The Tax Loopholes of Real Estate by Garrett Sutton Amazon
  • Lower Your Taxes! by Sandy Botkin Amazon
  • The Tax and Legal Playbook by Mark Kohler Amazon

What Did I learn from these tax planning books?

The primary thing that I learned from all of these books was that there’s a great deal of tax planning opportunities when it comes to small businesses.

Where are all of the small business tax planning opportunities? They’re usually around retirement plans, benefits, real estate and entity type. I found out that if a small business was strategic with what they did, they would be able to save tens of thousands of dollars every year from simply implementing the proper entity type, and they could build massive amounts of tax-advantaged wealth if they started investing in the right retirement plan options and real estate.

Besides that, I was a huge believer that along with my investment advice, I could simply add value around behavioral finance like Dave Ramsey and his 7 baby steps, and I’d be worthy of trust and close more business.

I Became a Tax Planning Guru and Set Out to Find Clients for my Financial Advising Practice

I set out to show business owners, self-employed people, and entrepreneurs so that I could add value around tax planning in order to help them implement 401k plans, SIMPLE IRA’s, and other small business retirement plans with me.

I got in front of a dozen or so business owners, and they all resonated a great deal with the tax planning I was talking about, while they kind of brushed aside the investment advice.

I came to discover that CPA’s, bookkeepers, tax professionals, and accountants are TERRIBLE at providing pro-active, high-value advice.

First – Why Ditch the Typical Accounting & Bookkeeping Model?

I found out that the typical accounting firm would build their business to focus around either bookkeeping or year-end tax preparation. The problem with this traditional accounting model was that it had become commoditized, and they were up against software from H&R Block, TurboTax, and they had to deal with many disadvantages.

The traditional accounting firm is hourly or transactional, and it’s primarily reliant on the year-end tax season.

They charge hourly and that creates a bad dynamic where each and every interaction between the accountant and business owner is weighed for its worthiness.

The typical accountant was also trying to build up enough tax return clients so they could actually pay their mortgage, which meant they were very busy during the tax season.

Because they were so busy

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