The Accountant and Financial Advisor. Who to use? Is one better than the other? Navigating the financial world can feel like a maze. Every turn you take, there’s another decision to make: save or invest? Stocks or bonds? Pay off debt or secure your future? When it comes to managing your money, the question often arises: “Do I need an accountant or a financial advisor?” The short answer is you might actually benefit from both. And while there is some overlap in each role (historically some people did both) – today they are both highly specialised positions that cater to different needs and problems. In this article, we’ll dive into the unique roles of an accountant and a financial advisor, and how these professionals can collectively boost your financial health. We also explain our position and how we try and provide a holistic accounting and financial planning approach to our clients.
The Role of an Accountant
An accountant is like the GPS of your financial journey, guiding you through the complex web of taxation, bookkeeping, and audits. Their primary role involves preparing and examining financial records, making sure they are accurate and that taxes are paid on time.
When Do You Need an Accountant?
1. During Tax Season: Tax laws can be a labyrinth, but an accountant can guide you through, ensuring you claim all possible deductions and credits. And your accountant can make suggestions that your financial advisor can help you take advantage of, like utilizing the tax deductions of retirement annuity contributions.
2. When Starting a Business: From business structure to tax filings, an accountant can provide invaluable advice. Getting the right format and structure in place for your business from the outset is imperative.
3. Financial Audits: If you’re facing an audit, an accountant can prepare you for what to expect and help you through the process.
4. Estate Planning: Accountants can advise on how to structure your estate to minimize tax implications for your heirs. This is something your financial planner also works on and where it is particularly helpful for your accountant and financial advisor to work together.
The Role of a Financial Advisor
While an accountant focuses on the ‘here and now’ of your finances, a financial advisor is the architect of your financial future. They can help you set and achieve long-term financial goals, whether that’s buying a home, sending your kids to university, or retiring comfortably.
When Do You Need a Financial Advisor?
1. Major Life Changes: Marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child are all good times to consult a financial advisor.
2. Planning for Retirement: A financial advisor can help you figure out how much you need to live comfortably in retirement and then create a strategy to get you there.
3. Asset Management: From diversifying your investment portfolio to rebalancing assets, a financial advisor is your go-to for investment strategy. Building a portfolio today is more complex than ever with the myriad choices available.
4. Risk Assessment: They can help you understand the kinds of financial risks you face and suggest strategies to mitigate them. Life cover, income protection, medical aid all fall under this umbrella.
Synergy Between Accountant and Financial Advisor
You may wonder if there’s overlap between an accountant and a financial advisor? While they operate in adjacent lanes, they rarely cover the same ground. An accountant can ensure you’re saving money today, while a financial advisor helps you invest for tomorrow. Together, they offer a holistic approach to financial planning.
Integrated Financial Planning
When your accountant and financial advisor collaborate, they can formulate a more comprehensive financial strategy for you. For example, your accountant’s insights into your current tax situation can help your financial advisor tailor your investment strategy, ensuring maximum after-tax returns. Unfortunately accountants and financial advisors still typically work in silos, without working together for the common good of the client (YOU).
Tips on Choosing the Right Professionals
When looking for an accountant or financial advisor, consider the following:
Credentials: Make sure they have the relevant qualifications and licenses. A CFP™ accredited financial planner and a CA (SA) or holders of the SAIPA Professional Accountant qualification is a good start.
Experience: Check their track record and areas of expertise. Some professionals are generalists and others have particular areas of expertise, both on the financial advisory and accounting sides. Know what you need so you can find the right form of help and guidance. Things like offshore investing, post-retirement income planning, tax preparation and guidance for a small business – typically need specialists who are well versed in the nuances of those fields.
Transparency: Ask about their fee structure and any potential conflicts of interest. Working with fee-based professionals rather than those that earn commissions or take percentages of investments, goes a long way to ensuring you receive impartial and unbiased advice.
Both accountants and financial advisors play crucial roles in your financial success. While an accountant helps you navigate the present financial landscape, a financial advisor helps you chart a course for the future.
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The Henceforward Approach: A Case for Holistic Financial Planning
When it comes to achieving optimal financial health, at Henceforward, we believe in a holistic approach that combines the best of both worlds: accounting and financial advising. We understand that each client’s situation is unique, and so we don’t operate in a silo. Instead, we work in collaboration with your existing accountant to ensure that your financial strategy is cohesive and all-encompassing. Don’t have an accountant? No problem. We partner with several reputable accounting firms to provide you with a one-stop solution for all your financial needs. Our integrated method ensures that your investment strategies align perfectly with your current tax situation, providing you with a well-rounded, forward-thinking financial plan.
Don’t think of it as “accountant vs. financial advisor.” Instead, consider how an accountant and financial advisor can work in tandem to elevate your financial well-being. After all, two heads are often better than one, especially when they’re experts in making your money work for you.