Rick Telberg
Rick Telberg
  Why Your Clients Need Your Optimism

Next Question: How do you stay positive in these tough times? Share your best tip in the Busy Season poll; then see what other CPAs are saying.

April 2, 2009
by Rick Telberg/For the Finance Executive

As many busy season clients — individual and corporate alike — get hammered by a crashing economy and uncertain business conditions, CPAs are doing their best to help.

"Clients are overwhelmed by the current state of the economy, imploding asset values and credit issues," according to Daniel J. Domancich, a CPA and CFP in Huntington Beach, Calif. The best you can do, he advises other CPAs, is: "Stay positive."

"Make sure you are adding value to your services," Domancich says, "by offering personal, attentive, proactive and knowledgeable services."


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CPA Lisa Khayyat in Charlotte, N.C., says CPAs don't need to be another economic casualty. She says CPAs must "get clients to pre-pay or put a deposit down on all tax work."

Ronald N. Silberstein at Maddox Ungar Silberstein PLLC in Bingham Farms, Mich., is enjoying "quite a bit of new business" and "growing rapidly on the accounting and auditing side." Still, he's "keeping a close view on overhead, increasing the up-front retainer percentage and making sure we are more responsive to our clients."

But James E. Kinsey in Fairburn, Ga., is one of many CPAs who has lost a few clients. He's working hard to "make sure that I give fast turnaround time."

Joe Eckelkamp, at the E&A CFO Group in St. Louis, is reporting "much more new audit and review work coming in." Still, he adds, "Cash and carry is king this year — both tax and audit and review work." He notes "some fallout on personal tax clients going for 'cheaper' solutions, but not troublesome." At least "not yet," he says.

Some business clients seem to be slower to provide information related to their year-end, according to Sandy Magid at Magid Accountancy Corp. in Novato, Calif. "All clients are very concerned about our fees due to the economy."

Nevertheless, Magid says, "We are requiring clients to pay for tax returns upon picking up their returns in our office or upon approval for e-filing. We are not e-filing tax returns until we receive our fees. We are, of course, making exceptions to this policy as warranted on a client-by-client basis."

Jennifer C. Riggieri, a CPA in Marblehead, Mass., is reporting "more corporate and partnership books were completed earlier and are ready to file, and with that, individuals are clamoring for their refunds. "Business owners, including myself," she says, "need tangible reassurance that we will get through these tough times."

Meanwhile, Riggieri is also helping her "clients channel their efforts on forward-thinking tasks, such as reassessing target markets, noncash-compensation strategies for employees and other expenditure-control measures."

I've known Terry Seiberlich, CPA.CITP at Seiberlich Accountancy Corp. in Walnut Creek, Calif., a long time and he always has good advice. Recently he suggested, "Be a good listener with and for your clients, but at the end of the day — be positive."

I'm positive that's good advice.

HOW ARE YOU STAYING POSITIVE IN THESE TOUGH TIMES? Join the Busy Season poll, get all the answers.

COMMENTS: Questions, ideas, rants or raves? Send an e-mail to Rick Telberg. And now you can get all my daily updates: Follow me on Twitter. (What's Twitter?)

Copyright © 2009 CPA Trendlines/BSG LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. First published by the AICPA.

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