Elder care begins with a network
Every community has a growing network of service providers who can help build your practice by serving the financial planning needs of senior citizens and their families. Here’s how.
May 14, 2012
If you are dedicated to serving the needs of seniors (especially those with chronic illness) as a CPA/PFS, the best place to begin to build your practice is with your current client base. Even relatively young clients have parents and grandparents who may need your assistance. But first, clients must be made aware of your expertise and the value it provides. Another rich source of potential business is right outside your office door, such as the service providers focused on seniors in your community. There are several ways to tap into this network. For example, you can volunteer, conduct seminars for other professionals (such as elder law attorneys), or simply knock on doors and introduce yourself.
Networking in your community
There are several advantages to volunteering to work with community organizations that provide services to the elderly:
Here are two examples of organizations you can volunteer with in most communities:
Most organizations offering adult day care services are not-for-profit entities and often need volunteers to serve on their board of directors.
A good networking opportunity is the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). You can find local members by going to their website and clicking on Find an Attorney. In addition, local bar associations often have a committee of elder law attorneys or estate planning attorneys, which may be a good source of cross referrals. When approaching an attorney, remember that he or she has a similar interest in receiving referrals from other professionals. Ask questions about the practice and its “ideal” client, and show that you do not consider referrals a one-way street.
Many states require attorneys to obtain continuing education credits. Often local bar associations offer “lunch and learn” meetings. In addition to discussing the special financial planning needs of the chronically ill, you can present on topics, such as:
Keep in mind that attorneys are also aging. Oftentimes a presentation can result in picking up a new client from the attendees.
Other sources of referrals
Potential referrals include:
In the case of attorneys, GCMs, and discharge planners, sending a short introductory letter with any marketing material is a good first step followed by a call. Use your contacts at other organizations to arrange for introductions.
As John Naisbitt observed in Megatrends, networking is a verb, not a noun. By tapping into the network of senior service providers in your community, you can build your CPA/PFS practice, learn more about the services offered, and contribute your needed expertise all at the same time.
James Sullivan, CPA/PFS, works with his wife, Janet, who is an elder law attorney in Naperville, Ill.
* The AICPA’s Personal Financial Planning Section is the premier provider of information, tools, advocacy and guidance for CPAs who specialize in providing estate, tax, retirement, risk management and investment planning advice to individuals and closely held entities. The Personal Financial Planning Section is open to all Regular Members, Associate Members and Non-CPA Section Associate Members of the AICPA. If you are a CPA who wants to demonstrate your expertise in this subject matter, become a Personal Financial Specialist Credential holder. Visit www.aicpa.org/PFP to learn more.
** PFP Section members, including PFS credential holders will benefit from additional Elder Planning information in the Resource section and in Forefield Advisor on the AICPA’s PFP website at aicpa.org/pfp.