Dear Accounting Client, I'm Not a Financial Planner

Matt Shelly
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If many of your accounting clients are expecting you to provide financial planning services for them, it can become an occupational pain. Informing and speaking with your accounting clients is essential if you want them to recognize and utilize your financial services as a certified public accountant (CPA).

Educate Your Accounting Clients

It is possible that many of your clients may not genuinely know the difference between what a CPA does and the duties of a financial planner. Individuals may come to you for tax and bookkeeping services to fulfill business or personal needs, and they may think it is okay to ask you to provide financial planning services. Although some CPAs are financial planners, your accounting clients must understand that every CPA does not provide financial planning services. Inform your accounting clients that you need a license to become a financial planner, and tell them you lack the authority to operate in that area.

Outline Your Services in Person

Being constantly asked to fulfill the role of an accountant and advisor can be uncomfortable. It is essential to inform clients of the services that you provide up front, and place reminders in your office so there is less confusion and more clarity with clients. Remember to mount your accounting degree and other financial certifications in open view and use them to illustrate your discussions. By taking the time to explain what your unique services are, you reduce the chance of clients racing to you for financial planning services that you do not offer.

Decline the Requests Respectfully

Being able to tell your accounting clients in a nice way that you do not provide certain services is essential to retain clients and avoid driving them away from your office for good. Be sure to make your client feel like a valued customer who is appreciated when you decline the request. By keeping a clear, polite tone with your clients, you can help them understand your position without offending them.

Send a Letter

Facing a displeased client who expects you to do more for them can be stressful, but a notification letter can be used to inform clients in a professional manner. Reading the information in black and white can help your accounting clients to understand your skills as a CPA. Consider sending a notification letter to new accounting clients, and reiterate the services that you do and do not provide. If you wish, you can even include the contact information of a reputable financial planner who can assist them with their additional needs.

Before clients ask you to help them plan every aspect of their financial future, you must notify them of the services you actually provide. Making sure that your accounting clients are well-informed up front is essential to reduce confusion later. However, if many of your clients are requesting financial planning services, it may be in your interest to consider the accountant and advisor role to multiply your income.


(Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles /


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