Author Topic: Next step in career? Help/opinions please!  (Read 2415 times)

COlady

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Next step in career? Help/opinions please!
« on: June 28, 2016, 10:10:21 AM »
I am a CPA with 10 years of overall experience. My first 3 years were in audit at a small firm, the next 4 years were in tax at a small firm and the last 3 years have been at an O&G company in their corporate tax department. I currently work as a contractor between 20 and 30 hours per week since having twins 16 months ago. Our company isn't doing well and I'm anticipating being laid off in the next 6 months. I'm lucky in that I have a number of options as to what to do next but they are causing me some anxiety about what I should do. I'd love the groups help in thinking about all of this. Options are:

1)  A friend of mine is a partner with two other guys in a financial planning firm that they've grown from the ground up. Their firm is doing great and they've grown through referrals from existing clients. They don't do any marketing at all. I was at lunch one day with my friend and he asked me if I'd consider being a financial planner. They need an additional planner to help manage their client relationships starting on a part-time basis (perfect for me) ramping up to a full time in a year or so (also perfect for me). One of the partners is nearing 60 years old and will be retiring in the next 3 years so they're hoping to start transitioning that direction. He said he thought I'd be great for the position because my tax background would be an asset to the firm and that I'm personable, etc. He said he thought it would be helpful for me to get my CFP one to two years in to be sure I know the ins and outs of insurance, annuities, etc. I'm not sure that I'm willing to study for the CFP exam with kids....the CPA exam was brutal enough and I think the CPA holds enough weight that clients wouldn't bat an eye. That would be something I'd have to discuss with him though. I spent 2 hours last week shadowing my friend to see how I felt about the day to day work of the position and it really got me excited. I think I would really enjoy the work and the client interaction (zero in my current job at a corp).

Some things to note:
 - Their base salary is about 85% of total compensation, the remainder is based on how many relationships you manage (which I think is unique).  I told him straight up - I do not have time for client development as I have small children. How am I going to be expected to generate relationships??? He said they are getting to the point where they have too many existing clients than they can manage on their own and that those clients are referring clients so basically as they come in they would just be "given" to me. Sounds like a great problem to have. We haven't talked seriously about compensation but we discussed ranges and his ranges sounded very reasonable to me.
 - they are a fee only finanical planning firm and receive no commissions on things that they recommend such a life insurance, etc. They are also a fidiciary. Their only source of revenue is from the percentage fee they charge on assets managed.
- I've been very candid with my friend about this possible career change. Currently as a CPA I'm very well respected and considered by the public to be the good guy/gal. I asked him what kind of response he gets when he tells people he's a financial planner...he said 90% of the time people just go oh and turn away, worried he's going to try and sell them something. I think I'd have to grow thick skin if I choose to make this transition. He explained that like anything there are good guys and bad guys.
- I know many people here HATE planners. I don't use a planner myself (all our money is in low cost mutual funds at Fidelity) but I referred my mom over to my friend's firm because she doesn't listen to anything I say and she needs to pay someone to tell her to do the same thing I would tell her to do. It eliminates a lot of arguments. I think there are a lot of people out there that come into money and don't know what to do with it and won't take the time to learn even the basics about investing. They will gladly hand their money over to someone else to manage for a fee. Is it wrong on me to be on the receiving end of such a deal???

2) I've thought about putting together a cover letter and resume and sending it out to the firms in the area looking for contract tax work. I know a lot of firms could use part-time help. I'm just afraid that they won't want to pay me enough. I would want around $70 per hour on a contract basis (I'm currently paid $75/hour contract). This would fill my need for client interaction (assuming they would allow me to interact directly with clients). I'm not sure how out of reach $70 per hour is...maybe some of the CPAs in public can give opinions on that? My thinking is, if I can take a return start to finish (meet with client, go through all informaition, prepare return, answer all client's questions, assist client with tax planning) and the partner can simply review the return and sign it. I figure they can bill me out to the client at around $130-$150 per hour so even paying me $70/hr. that's quite the profit.





COlady

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Re: Next step in career? Help/opinions please!
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2016, 02:07:18 PM »
62 views and no comments. Any help/opinions/comments?

madamwitty

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Re: Next step in career? Help/opinions please!
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2016, 02:53:58 PM »
I don't have any experience / insight into the world of CPAs, but the one point I would make is that you don't have to be "afraid they won't want to pay me enough" - just send out the resumes and find out. You are not required to take an underpaying job offer.

mozar

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Re: Next step in career? Help/opinions please!
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2016, 04:06:03 PM »
I don't think people hate financial planners here, just think they are unnecessary. What do you want to do long term? Would it be hard to go back to tax after? I would see what's out there for tax work at 75hr+ before deciding. And I think your right about the CPA, no need to take another test.

marty998

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Re: Next step in career? Help/opinions please!
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2016, 04:18:26 PM »
Good luck - nice to have these options!

I'd stay in tax if I were a tax specialist, and you have a bit more flexibility as to the imposition on your time being on a contract, as opposed to being a partner in a business.

Choices

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Re: Next step in career? Help/opinions please!
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2016, 05:23:00 PM »
It sounds like you believe in low cost index funds (as do most of us). Would the financial planning firm have any problem with you recommending this to clients? If so, you might have some ethical quandaries ahead of you.

If you like tax work, pursue this before you take the financial planning route. Just because it fell into your lap doesn't make it the automatic best option.

randymarsh

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Re: Next step in career? Help/opinions please!
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2016, 05:29:52 PM »
You shouldn't feel guilty acting as a planner with a fiduciary responsibility. Some people would prefer to just tell a planner "These are my goals, what is my path to get there?" rather than learn it themselves. We all pay for different services we value.

mxt0133

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Re: Next step in career? Help/opinions please!
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2016, 09:58:56 PM »
I took a CFP course that allows me to sit for the CFP exam and one of my classmates was a CPA with 30+ years of experience.  He was taking it because he was expanding his business into financial planning.  He got into it pretty much the same way your friend is offering.  He was getting referrals from a business associate that needed the expertise of a CPA beyond what a CFP could handle.  He in turn would refer his clients that needed financial planning advice that went beyond tax planning, business structuring, and one that would serve as a fiduciary.

The majority of fee only CFPs mostly deal with high net worth individuals or small business owners.  Those clients typically need a CPA in addition to a CFP to structure their businesses appropriately, select and manage retirement plans, and file their personal and business taxes. 

One way you could structure a partnership with your friend would be to work as a financial planner. Charge the firm's standard fee based on how complex the client's financial planning needs are.  Once you get beyond a certain point in tax planning you would inform the client that you will be putting on your CPA had and charge them an hourly rate.  This would have to be all up front of course and itemized on your clients invoice.  But it's what any CFP would do if they had to refer their client to a CPA anyway.  Your friends firm could be a one stop shop.

It seems like your background is mostly on audit and corporate tax and you might have to brush up on the more personal side of tax like, investment, estate, insurance, and retirement plan setup.  However, I can't imagine that would be to hard for someone that already has their CPA.

Sitting for the CFP is cake compared to sitting for the CPA according to some of my classmates and instructors.  If you have a certain number of years dealing with clients as a financial planner you don't have to take a course and can sit for the exam, hence why your friend said you could take your exam in 2 years.  You would probably have to get the books, review them like 15-20 hours a week for 6-8 weeks, take a one week test prep course, and then study full-time for about 6 weeks before the test to give you the best shot of passing the exam.  It's a one day test, two three hour sessions.

If you are concerned that you would only be viewed as a financial planner, I wouldn't be to concerned with it.  Having that CPA is currently worth more than a CFP designation, but together you can pretty much pick and choose who your clients are and how many hours you choose to work.  Assuming you can turn down all the money people will throw at you.

Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions.

catccc

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Re: Next step in career? Help/opinions please!
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2016, 07:12:09 AM »
There are a lot of people that value a financial planner.  I recently at someone's retirement celebration and the person retiring gave a big public thanks to her financial planner.  We mustachians wave FPs away, rightly so, but they are really of use to some.  It's a service and there is a demand for it, I don't think it is wrong to be offering it for those who want to take it.  A mechanic probably fixes his or her own car.  That doesn't mean everyone can or should and the mechanic should find another line of work.

I am a CPA, and I'm not familiar with the CFP exam, but I'm going to guess it's going to be really easy compared to the CPA exam, which I'm sure you know is regarded as one of the most rigorous professional licensing exams.  First of all, the test itself is only about half the time.  When I took the CPA exam (2nd to last paper and pencil version), it was 15.5 hours of testing over 2 days.

Personally, if the compensation made sense, I would try it, especially since you sound really excited about the client interaction.  Good luck!

mxt0133

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Re: Next step in career? Help/opinions please!
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2016, 06:05:05 PM »
62 views and no comments. Any help/opinions/comments?

A few comments and opinions given but no response or feedback from OP.  Might be the reason why there aren't as many comments.