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Questions to Create Additional Service Opportunities with Your ClientsBy Louise Belli, APA, Nathan Wechsler & Company, P.A.
Our CPA firm services many tax clients, and we also offer Retirement Plan and Audit Services. We encourage on-going conversations with our clients to help create opportunities to provide additional services.
Start by asking clients if they currently have a Profit Sharing, 401(k), or 403(b) Plan. If not, offer to provide free plan illustrations and ideas. Point out the tax advantages and benefits to offering a retirement plan.
For clients with existing plans, here are some questions that may lead to additional services: Has your plan document been reviewed for compliance, required amendments? Have you received any IRS notices and do you have a consultant who will help respond/resolve compliance issues? Have you encountered retirement plan issues requiring outside consulting?
Some employers may be out of touch with their original document provider and have no specific individual with retirement plan expertise to go to for advice or consulting. IRS notices require knowledge of current ERISA/IRS rules and regulations, and correction programs. Offer to be that expert!
Are you satisfied with your current plan investments and/or service provider/record-keeper/advisor?
Have they compared services vs. fees paid, are the plan investments being reviewed, does their current service provider prepare their Form 5500, and provide e-filing services, 1099Rs for plan distributions? Clients may be doing some of these tasks themselves and would gladly hire your firm to take them over.
Have you compared allocation formulas to maximize owners (i.e. cross-tested, integrated or had problems passing ADP/ACP or top heavy testing?
Testing is an area that causes problems for many plans. Find out if they have considered a Safe Harbor plan that enables owners to maximize without requiring testing, at a minimal cost. Offer to do a comparison of plan formulas and design a better plan for their needs.
Do you have problems communicating your plan to participants? Are you able to answer participant questions/resolve issues?
Plan sponsors are often not comfortable explaining plan provisions, interpreting plan rules, and addressing participant questions. They may be looking for help in this area.
If your plan requires an audit, are you satisfied with your current plan auditors?
How do audit costs compare to the service they are receiving? Ask if their auditors are totally independent of the plan and Plan Sponsor. Is the audit staff licensed, certified, and kept current of the most recent legislation by DOL/IRS. Auditing is a specialized field, and a client may be willing to hear your proposal and even pay more, if your firm offers more experience/expertise.
Create additional service opportunities with your client, keep the conversation going!
Louise Belli earned an associate’s degree in business management from Southern New Hampshire University in 1982. She attained a certification as an Accredited Pension Administrator (APA) from the National Institute of Pension Administrators (NIPA) in 2002, and she is currently a member of the NIPA News Editorial Advisory Committee. She has more than 15 years’ experience in the pension administration field, and was employed as a pension specialist at Fidelity Investments prior to joining Nathan Wechsler & Company, P.A. in August of 2006 as a retirement plan specialist, concentrating in the area of Retirement Plan Administration and Consulting. Belli lives in Allenstown, N.H.
Keep the Conversation Going...