Many advisors get a number of things wrong when it comes to pursuing alliances with CPAs and other Centers of Influence. The main thing they get wrong is how they treat a CPA building initiative within their own practice. A piece meal approach is not effective at securing profitable CPA relationships, neither is a program that relies solely on the efforts of one advisor or business development person. Instead, to be effective, building CPA Alliances should be ingrained into every aspect of your practice.
Building CPA Alliances is a long game. It’s not a short-term campaign or something to “try” for a few months then drop. It must be an integral part of your overall strategy for growing your practice, along with organic client acquisition, practice acquisitions, and recruiting efforts. CPA Alliances are more than just a means for generating referrals. If used properly, they allow you to provide more comprehensive services to a high value client.
You should have processes for building CPA Alliances baked into everything that your firm does. This includes processes for asking existing clients for their CPA’s information, for every team member to make introductions and facilitate conversations with CPAs, and to support CPA referrals when they walk through the door. They should be integrated with your client support systems, marketing and business development systems, and operational systems of your practice.
Every member of your team, from the receptionist to the most senior advisor, should be supporting the CPA Alliance efforts of the firm. This does not mean that they are equally involved in the process. It does mean that all team members should know what to expect, what to say, and how to support the alliance building process from start to finish.
You should be communicating your CPA alliance building efforts and results both internally and externally. Asking your clients about their CPA relationships should be a part of your conversation in every meeting. When you build new alliances, both you and the CPA should work together to develop communications to announce your relationship and how it benefits the client. Team members should know which relationships you have and how to communicate to the CPA partner and their referrals. These communications will happen over and over again, not just at the start of the relationship.
Building CPA Alliances is not a short-term commitment. Nor is it a side project for one member of the firm. It’s a growth strategy that should be baked into your firm’s strategy, processes, and communication and supported by every member of your team. If not, your results will be lackluster, or at the very least, unintentional. Growth without intention is not sustainable, nor is it very profitable. Instead, be intentional and comprehensive in your efforts. If you do, you will build a scalable, long-term growth channel that will drive revenue for years to come.