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How advisors can be their own CPAs and save a bundle

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Thirty minutes a day.

That is all it takes to manage the firm’s finances on a day-to-day basis, according to some savvy industry experts.

Yet scores of advisors and small-business owners ignore doing this vital aspect of their business themselves, which can save them money, and instead hand it off to an outside CPA or other accounting service.

Indeed, one of the best decisions that a small-business owner can make is hiring an in-house person or team of people to keep diligent financial records, file taxes, apply for loans, and plan for the long term.

“Sadly, many financial advisors with whom I work do not understand the numbers behind their business. They have no idea where their money is going,” says Dan Cuprill, a CFP, the creator of Advisor Architect, a business training program for advisors, and the president of advisory firm Matson & Cuprill in Cincinnati.

Many advisors delegate the financial aspects of their firm to outside accountants, and though that person may be good at bookkeeping and filing tax returns, no one is playing the role of chief financial officer, he said.

“The actual accounting tasks of most financial firms requires no more than 30 minutes a day. If an advisor properly uses a program like Quickbooks [he or she] will save thousands a year in fees to his accountants and will discover ways to run his business more efficiently,” Cuprill said.

“Other than for tax filing, the responsibilities of a CPA can be delegated to a staff member,” he said.

One advisor who has a thriving practice without using an outside accountant or CPA and has operated in this fashion for 15 years, is Nathan O’Bryant, an investor coach and head of O’Bryant & Associates in Huntingdon and Jackson, Tennessee.

“Accountants and CPAs typically don’t give you advice,” he says. “They’re just crunching numbers, which they’re supposed to do, but I feel that if I handle the accounting, we are able to keep a better eye on our budget and profit.”

As evidence of the cost savings, Cuprill says one client was spending more than $2,000 a year in overnight packaging to an outside accounting firm.

“On top of that, he was spending over $5,000 on software he never used,” Cuprill says. “Worst of all he didn’t know that until I showed him.”

To prove his point, Bill Mullen, founder-owner of Mullennium Finance, advisory firm in Park City, Utah, went to extra lengths.

“I’m not a CPA. I’m a CFP,” Mullen says.

“I worked for H&R Block for three years, but I did it to learn how I could help my clients save

tax dollars, not to learn how to do tax return,” he says.

There is more to running a business than hitting a sales goal, Cuprill says.

“It’s really about hitting a profit goal,” he says. “You can do that if you’re willing to wear the CFO hat for 30 minutes a day; otherwise you’re flying blind.”

This is part of a 30-30 series on savvy ideas on modernizing your practice.

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