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Dream team: Should your accountant and adviser collaborate more closely?
In our efforts to make sense of a busy, complicated world, we can sometimes apply simple labels to the people and things in our daily lives, compartmentalising them into their separate boxes.
It’s an approach that can lead us to package individuals into distinct roles and silos. Even if they share similar interests, the invisible boundaries we construct between them limits the potential for crossover or collaboration.
Financial advisers and accountants are a case in point. Despite both parties having a common interest in their clients’ wealth, they can often operate in relative isolation, co-existing with little degree of overlap.
However, just as an elite athlete will work with a co-ordinated team of specialist coaches who all support their improved performance from various angles, both physical and psychological, clients can also benefit from greater co-ordination between their team of professional financial advisors.
How accountants and adviser differ
But before we explore the potential benefits of a good adviser-accountant relationship, let’s address some key differences.
Generally speaking, the role of the financial adviser is associated with holistic wealth management strategies. In tandem with their client, they will be looking ahead to the future and thinking about how best to plan finances to achieve personal goals, dealing with short-term issues such as annual earnings and considering longer-term matters such as estate planning.
The role of the accountant differs in that is more ‘down in the weeds’ of a client’s finances. As well as acting in an advisory capacity, they have a focus on ensuring any documentation, including the annual tax return, is all in order and compliant with regulatory requirements.
Complementary approaches to financial matters
When questions of tax planning and wealth management arise, they will often be relevant to both parties. Whether a client is looking to retire early or seeking to pass on their assets to members of their family, advisers and accountants can both offer insights into these situations with a view to protecting wealth and managing tax liabilities.
The common ground of your tax return can present a good starting point for collaboration. Financial advisers might not usually be party to this information, but it could highlight helpful information. It might indicate, for example, opportunities where under-performing assets can be better invested. Equally, while accountants can be aware that tax rebates are forthcoming or additional liabilities are due, financial advisers can add value by providing a view on how to manage the resulting situation.
With the combined knowledge of a financial adviser and accountant, the client’s goal can be achieved in the most tax-efficient way, taking into account their level of their income and the pension contribution required to achieve their desired standard of living in retirement.
Pursuing financial goals, managing tax liabilities
Taking a broader view of the issue of retirement and estate planning, there can be a number of elements to consider, including pension savings, investments and assets, which might include business interests. With Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax among the liabilities to be considered, the combined input of a financial adviser and accountant can result in a more layered and nuanced approach to decision-making. And the more complex your circumstances, arguably the more value that can be gained by drawing on a breadth of specialist expertise.
Alignment between adviser and accountant can also mean faster decision-making since key stakeholders are operating from a position of unity, keeping discord, confusion and friction to a minimum. There are more eyes collectively spotting potential problems and opportunities, putting you in a better position to react to change.
So, while it can be tempting to compartmentalise your financial affairs, filing away everything to do with your accountant in a folder marked ‘tax’ and having financial planning conversations exclusively with your financial adviser, it could be time to think again.
They will remain two distinct areas of specialism but combining their forces in a ‘belt and braces’ approach helps protect your finances and ensure that any chances to maximise returns aren’t missed.
The information contained within this communication does not constitute financial advice and is provided for general information purposes only. No warranty, whether express or implied is given in relation to such information. Vintage Wealth Management or its associated representative shall not be liable for any technical, editorial, typographical or other errors or omissions within the content of this communication.
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