Why You Should Specialize in Employee Benefit Plan Audits

Gina Deveney
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Finding a niche for your small business can help your company expand and corner an area of the market that might be ripe for potential growth. If you decide to enter the field of employee benefit plan audits, or EBP audits, there are several advantages to specializing in this area, including gaining a competitive advantage, building a strong referral network, and identifying potential pitfalls with compliance and financial statements.

Competitive Advantage

When you specialize in EBP audits, you are able to focus your time and attention on this particular niche that includes auditing employee stock ownership plans, health and welfare plans, defined benefit pension plans and nontraditional benefits like mental health benefits. You can train your staff to be experts in this area, which gives your company a competitive advantage over other companies that might focus their attention on several different services. You can use your membership in professional industry organizations, such as the American Institute of CPAs, or AICPA, to network with other experts and gain even more training opportunities. Your association with well-known and respected organizations like AICPA is also a boon when you are trying to solicit new business.

Building a Strong Referral Network

As you increase the number of EBP audits you company conducts, ask those clients to recommend you to others in their network. Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to gain new business, and satisfied customers also become repeat customers. Find out if your clients will give you the names of possible sales leads, and ask them for testimonials that you can use in your promotional materials. You can also expand your professional network by developing relationships with investment advisers. When you attend industry events, start a rapport with other professionals who conduct EBP audits. If they are too busy to take on new clients, they might be willing to recommend your services. A good reputation not only helps you attract new clients, but it also solidifies your expert status to others who work in the same niche.

Identifying Potential Pitfalls With Compliance and Financial Statements

As is the case with most jobs, the more training you receive and the more you do the work, the better you become at the job and the more efficient the process. This means you become better at identifying common issues and learning complex auditing rules, such as those required by the Internal Revenue Service or the Department of Labor. If you decide to specialize in EBP audits, you'll get experience working with several different parties, including plan sponsors, vendors, third-party administrators, human resources personnel, and finance and accounting personnel. These parties will help you gather the data you need to complete the audit. Your specialized experience makes you more knowledgeable about possible missteps and helps your clients fix any compliance issues before important deadlines.

Deciding to specialize in EBP audits may be a challenge, but if you have a passion and interest for the work, it can be extremely profitable and give you the opportunity to excel in a field you enjoy. Your expertise in this area has the potential to help your accounting business find a niche that will only continue to expand as employers compete to keep their best employees.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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