The Benefits of Working with Both a CFP and a CPA
by Gabriel Lewit
The world of financial planning offers ample opportunity to turn struggle into success. Taxes are one of those areas. Choosing a financial planner and a tax advisor are two of the most important decisions you might make. But wouldn’t it be convenient as one powerful decision?
The first professional focuses on building and preserving your wealth, mainly through your investment portfolio. The second keeps your tax bill as low as possible and ensures your accounts are squeaky clean come April.
Of course, you can hire one or the other. After all, there’s some overlap: tax advisors often aid in retirement planning, and many financial advisors offer tax planning. But when it comes to crafting a holistic financial strategy, both types of expertise under one firm will serve you better than one or the other, separately.
These beneficial guidelines can serve you well beyond this tax year, integrating investment strategies that are right for you.
Benefits of Working with a CFP
CFPs (CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™) are licensed through the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards to help clients build long-term financial strategies. These professionals bring their wide range of expertise and training to building the right portfolio to meet your needs.
1. True Expertise in Your Corner
CFPs are some of the most highly trained financial professionals around. While they may wear many hats – such as a financial planner or wealth manager – all CFPs must meet rigorous certification requirements, including:
- Obtaining a bachelor’s degree
- Passing the 6-hour, 170-question CFP Board exam
- Gaining at least 4,000 hours of relevant financial planning experience
- Undergoing 30 hours of continuing education every two years
Because of their extensive financial background, CFPs shine in the field of personal finance and wealth management. They can offer a holistic range of services, including investment, retirement, insurance, estate, education, and even tax planning.
2. Qualifications and Ethical Standards on Your Side
CFPs don’t just go through years of education and experience to earn their certification. They also have to swear as fiduciaries to uphold and act in your best interests, rather than their own. Additionally, they must adhere to the strict Code of Ethics set by the CFP Board.
In other words, your CFP serving the greater Chicago area is here to help you meet your goals and build your portfolio – not sell you products you don’t need.
3. Add a Personal Touch to Your Finances
Establishing a relationship with a CFP at any age can help you prepare for whatever life throws at you. But CFPs can also help you handle specific financial matters, including:
- Family changes, such as marriage, divorce, or family planning
- Losing or switching jobs
- Financial windfalls, such as winning the lottery or inheriting Grandma’s house
- Medical debt or bankruptcy
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list. CFPs also walk you through regular financial planning, too, such as saving for a house and investing for retirement.
Benefits of Working with a CPA
CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant. These professionals usually specialize in accounting and tax preparation, though their clientele and services can vary. And, like CFPs, hiring a CPA comes with plenty of benefits.
1. Work with a True Expert
CPAs are licensed on a state-by-state basis according to rigorous standards developed in part by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. To obtain their certification, they must meet several requirements, including:
- Completing at least a bachelor’s degree and 150 semester hours of education (a typical bachelor’s is 120)
- Passing the 16-hour CPA Exam
- Gaining at least one to three years of accounting experience (exact requirements vary by state)
Simply put, your CPA is required to be an expert in their field before they’re allowed to practice.
2. Enjoy Year-Round Tax Assistance
Many people wait until tax season opens to prepare their documents and comb through receipts looking for tax breaks. But a CPA can manage your finances year-round, allowing them to keep on top of every transaction and financial maneuver that may save you a buck (or cost one). Plus, they may be able to hunt down tax deductions you didn’t know existed.
3. Prepare for the Worst-Case Scenario
IRS audits are relatively rare (though individuals who make over $200,000 are more likely to face an audit). But when it happens, having a professional on your side can make a stressful process that much easier.
To start, CPAs keep up with crucial tax changes and arrange your finances to minimize your tax burden – and the risk of raising red flags to the IRS. And if you do face an audit, your CPA can prepare your finances and act as your representative.
4. Manage Your Finances in Detail
CFPs are often considered heroes of the financial world. But CPAs are often the ones that deal with the nitty-gritty of your day-to-day financial matters. They can handle your general ledger, help you budget and pay down your debts, and prepare tax documents for the IRS. And if you own a business, they can handle your bookkeeping and payroll duties.
Why Work With Both CFPs and CPAs?
To reiterate, CFPs are there to handle your investments, manage your estate, and build your overall wealth. CPAs primarily focus on making strategic tax moves while offering related retirement and estate planning services.
In other words, CFPs grow your wealth, while CPAs ensure Uncle Sam doesn’t take more than his fair cut. And by combining their strengths, you can build a holistic financial plan that includes maximizing your lifetime earning potential while minimizing your tax burden.
What’s Better Than One Financial Planner? Two!
Unless you were experienced (and hopefully certified), you wouldn’t do your own plumbing or electrical work, right? Why, then, would you risk handling your own financial affairs, which can have long-lasting impacts on your life?
No matter your age or ambitions, hiring a licensed professional is a smart move for people in all stages of their life.
Bottom line, SGL Financial can teach you about maximizing your tax return. Contact us today to start a safe conversation about your financial situation and needs. You may find our Free Resources are a great place to begin. Or learn more about us to see if we are a right fit. The SGL team looks forward to supporting you well into your life journey.