Gillingham’s Hierarchy of Client CPA Needs

2014-2-7 HierarchyMaslow’s Hierarchy defines the relationship of human needs from the most basic: food and shelter, to the most advanced: self actualization. Maslow, as well as contemporary visionaries such as Chip Conley, have applied the hierarchy to business. Drawing from their inspiration, I have created the Client Hierarchy to represent how a CPA firm should be serving your most basic and advanced needs. The hierarchy from bottom to top, begins at tax and accounting, moves to planning, and then advising. Surrounding the hierarchy are the most common entities that should be considered as interdependent -the individual, family, and business – all related.

The foundation of my hierarchy and your needs will be tax and accounting. This foundation must be performed accurately and timely. Communication on both sides is essential so that we can understand your unique situation. Anyone can “do your taxes,” but the value of my ideal firm, is to achieve peace of mind by doing things properly (integrity) and getting to planning and advising. This journey (not a destination unless you just died (ironic comment and uncommon parenthesis)) is long-term and requires us both to do our job. The more organized and efficient we can be at accomplishing your basic needs, the more time we have available to ascend the hierarchy together. And like all worthwhile climbs, it is gonna take work and has a cost (figure about 50K to climb Mount Everest, so we are a bargain).

Tax and accounting generally involves looking back, while planning is looking into the future. After understanding your needs and completing your basic work, we begin to plan. Basic planning involves paying proper estimated personal and business taxes. Even if there are no estimates required; it is important have enough savings for taxes due, possible retirement (aka strategic) accounts, or expansion plans. Certain purchases made during the year can sometimes provide tax credits or deductions that are more than normally allowed. Retirement accounts can also be an excellent way to help you maximize tax benefits in low or high income years (think… what is income smoothing?). Without planning, most of these strategies cannot be implemented after the tax year is over. Translation: “See” us before the “current” tax year ends.

Advising is our premium value add. At the top of the hierarchy, quality advice can rarely be achieved without first having proper tax, accounting, and planning in place. Some of the best advising starts with preempting the unspoken needs of a client relationship. Successful people are generally busy and do not closely following the tax law, let alone the detail of their financial affairs. Advising integrates tax compliance, accounting, planning, and communication into the individual, family, and business affairs of YOU. Viewing a client relationship in terms of all of these variables allows US to communicate and propose solutions that are relevant, valuable, and viable.

Together we achieve our own “Client Actualization” when we complete the pyramid and integrate family, business, and personal matters into your financial decision making. Perhaps the end goal is simple? Mo’ money (tax strategy when we can) and Mo’ peace of mind (integrity, systems, compliance). The best way we can do “this” is to start fulfilling your more basic needs and communicate as much as possible. So please contact us. A greater understanding of you, your family, and business – or work (got stock options?) allows me to go above and beyond simply getting your stuff done. This is where we thrive and can provide lasting value in our long lasting relationship. Thanks for listening to my piece of mind.

Other resources from John Gillingham sea pea ah:

Learn Accounting: http://accountingplay.com/

Get the App: Lessons, Audio, and Illustrated Accounting Flashcards for iOS on Android

Get the App: Learn Accounting Debits and Credits with the game on iOS

My Innovative Accounting Books: Amazon Kindle

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