Tax practitioners invest considerable resources in keeping themselves, their clients and staff abreast of tax changes.
There are obvious and sound reasons for doing this. How can you offer clients best advice if you don’t keep up-to-date? And how can clients advise you of changes in their circumstances if they don’t have a general appreciation of tax changes and how they might impact their tax affairs?
The second of these observations is particularly relevant. How many times have clients come to you with “I’ve just done this…”? This being a transaction or series of transactions, that if planned in a more structured way, would have significantly reduced their exposure to tax.
And there are other interesting sides to this timing issue. For example, tax professionals are keen to demonstrate their expertise; so keen, that they often miss opportunities to sell additional tax advice. This usually happens in an informal setting, when the event (and perhaps the effects of imbibed refreshments), encourages the communication of valuable tax advice that would be best given in a more controlled and professional manner.
On reflection, it would probably be better to temper our rush to “blurt” out advice in this way. Apart from missing a billing event, your client may not have absorbed the full impact of what it was you had to say. What we should do, is sit forward and assert “I think I may have an answer to this, could save you some tax. Give me a day to check out a couple of planning options and I’ll get back to you.”
Now your client is engaged, what might these tax saving options be, how much will he save? He or she will be focussed on the benefits of your advice instead of the cost. You, of course, will make the call the next day, and without showing all your cards, will underline these benefits and get the client’s agreement to a piece of tax planning at an agreed fee. A win, win solution.
Even if you made this call without extending your research beyond what you already knew, there is real value for the client in “sleeping on it”, taking time to reconsider other options.
Truthfully, you are being paid as a return for your investment in keeping up-to-date. Make sure that you don’t waste this return by being too ready to demonstrate your knowledge.
My company provides readily accessible tax update material for tax professionals, and it won’t necessitate travelling to a day long event. Contact me if you would like to see what is on offer.