Every decision you make and every milestone you reach impacts your financial situation. Even within your finances, there are multiple pieces that affect one another—such as income tax planning, cash flow, risk management, investment planning, estate planning, retirement strategies, and more. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure the professionals you hire to manage individual aspects of your finances understand how each part impacts the greater whole.
With over two decades of experience in the financial services industry and years spent working as an accountant, I’ve seen firsthand how important it is for financial advisors to understand the tax implications of their recommendations. With my extensive experience in accounting and my vast tax knowledge, I can provide my clients with a unique insight that other advisors lack.
Here are 3 ways my accounting background helps me be a better financial advisor to my wealth management clients.
True Holistic Planning
There is actually a lot more overlap between taxes and the other aspects of a financial plan than most people realize. Not only that, but accountants and financial advisors often approach the topic of tax planning from two very different perspectives:
- An accountant views your financial plan from a tax perspective. Their goal is to make sure you’re following the tax law and not doing anything to get yourself into trouble with the IRS. They’re looking at things like whether you exceeded your annual retirement contributions, or if you paid enough self-employment tax.
- A financial advisor views your taxes as one part of a comprehensive financial plan. Their goal is to make sure all of the individual parts work together to support and advance your long-term goals and objectives. They ask questions like: Are you making the most of your investment opportunities? Could you be contributing more to retirement? Is there a more effective savings vehicle available to you?
When an accountant and financial advisor look at the same thing, they view it from two very different perspectives. When these separate views are combined, they give you a more complete picture of the issue at hand. That’s why my extensive accounting background combined with my financial advising experience allows me to provide true holistic planning for my clients.
If you’ve ever received a surprise tax bill at the end of the year, you know how unsettling it can be. No one wants to work hard all year only to owe money to the IRS. That’s why I always take the time to review my clients’ W-2s and other tax documents to ensure they are claiming enough federal income tax withholdings.
The IRS documents required to claim your withholdings are confusing, and many people fill them out incorrectly. Without my input, they wouldn’t realize their mistake until after they've filed their taxes and find out they still owe more. With my accounting background, I’m able to review tax-withholding elections right away and clients can correct any mistakes before it becomes a major pain point for them down the line.
My goal is to help clients make the best tax decisions so they don’t find themselves caught off guard come tax season.
Just as my experience allows me to identify issues with a client’s tax withholding status, it also helps me determine where clients can better utilize tax-minimization strategies.
Here are just a few examples of how I can help clients reduce their tax burdens:
- Roth conversions. If you have a significant amount of money in a traditional 401(k) or IRA, it may be wise to convert your funds to a Roth IRA in a year in which you are in a lower tax bracket. Doing this just before retirement can save you big in taxes, but this strategy requires an understanding of your full financial situation in order to be properly implemented.
- Gifting opportunities. For those who are charitably inclined, being strategic about your gifting can save you a lot in taxes. From bunched charitable giving and donor-advised funds, to qualified charitable distributions and charitable trusts, there are many ways to combine gifting with tax minimization.
- Tax harvesting. There is an upside to having an investment loss. If you sell it, you can offset the loss against investment gains and taxable income as a way to minimize your annual tax liability.
Discover the Key Wealth Management Difference
At Key Wealth Management, we strive to provide a holistic view of our clients’ finances. If you are looking for an advisor who can incorporate a unique tax perspective into your overall financial plan, we would love to hear from you! Schedule an introductory appointment by reaching out to us at email@example.com or (724) 934-9196.
Todd Stepke is the founder and a financial advisor at Key Wealth Management, an independent financial firm committed to putting its clients first and building long-lasting relationships that carry them through life’s ups and downs. With over 25 years of experience in the financial industry, Todd provides his pre-retiree and retiree clients with customized solutions and a personal touch—getting to know their goals, needs, concerns, and life situations to build plans that help them pursue their ideal futures. Todd is known for going the extra mile and educating his clients, simplifying the complicated so they can make empowered and informed decisions.
Todd obtained a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Duquesne University. Spending many years as an accountant, he continually saw that his clients were not being served well by their financial advisors. Todd now blends his vast tax knowledge with his passion for seeing his clients thrive financially. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Kandace, biking, gardening, fishing, perusing estate sales, and trying his hand at new recipes (especially baking). To learn more about Todd, connect with him on LinkedIn.