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Bring more value to your clients with charitable planning

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By Susan M. Tillery

Strengthen your practice and build deeper relationships with your clients by offering charitable planning services.

The role of the CPA is evolving. Clients are increasingly looking for a “one-stop shop” where they can receive all of their financial and tax services from one firm or individual. Because of this shift in consumer sentiment, many CPAs are looking for ways to expand their service offerings and increase both their competencies and the amount of trust they engender. Charitable planning is one such opportunity.

Clients Value Giving

As research indicates, charity is a concern of many clients and potential clients. In its 2016 Charitable Giving Statistics, the National Philanthropic Trust noted that approximately 91% of high-net-worth households give to charity. In 2016, giving by individuals and families reached an all-time high of $389.05 billion.

What’s more, many clients, especially high-net-worth clients, expect their advisers to discuss charitable planning with them. Fully one-third of high-net-worth individuals surveyed in the 2017 U.S. Trust Study of the Philanthropic Conversation said that the topic should be raised during their very first meeting with an adviser, and 90% stated that the discussion should occur within the first several meetings.

However, CPAs may be missing out on an opportunity to provide the charitable planning advice clients need. The 2016 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy found that in 2015, only 24% of high-net-worth individuals had discussed charitable giving with an adviser — and, of that 24%, only 11% said they had spoken with an accountant.

Building Relationships With Clients

With automation on the rise, the human side of advising is taking on increased importance. Many CPAs are looking to differentiate their firms by offering their clients services they can’t get from software. Charitable planning can be one part of such a strategy.

When done right, charitable planning goes far beyond discussing the amount a client should give to maximize his or her tax deductions. It involves conversations that evoke your clients’ most deeply held values. This type of discourse enhances your role as a trusted adviser. In fact, the 2017 U.S. Trust Study of the Philanthropic Conversation states that three-quarters of advisers find discussing philanthropy with clients to be an excellent way to deepen and establish new relationships. This can benefit your practice as well: Clients who have strong relationships with their advisers are more likely to stay loyal to them, as well as refer them to friends, family, and business connections. Please read more!