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Marketing ElderCare/PrimePlus services.

When a traditional firm establishes an AICPA ElderCare/ PrimePlus practice, the first step is to create a business plan that outlines the aspects needed to develop this new niche. ElderCare/PrimePlus services are a natural extension of the professional services that firms have been offering over the years in serving their communities, particularly older individuals. As a result, the cost and time in formulating the plan are minimal. Probably one of the most critical aspects of planning is to determine the contents of an ElderCare/PrimePlus services "menu." The services provided to clients can include:

* Personal finances and banking--Handling financial transactions (including bill payment) and ensuring that expected income is received and deposited.

* Investments--Ensuring that investments are managed per a client's instructions.

* Insurance--Monitoring all insurance coverage, by ensuring that premiums are paid when due and claims are prepared timely.

* Contracts--Handling all communications as needed, for attorneys, lessors and agents, concerning leases, rents, sales and any other client agreements.

* Taxes--Preparing Federal income tax returns, including quarterly estimates and payroll reports for in-home providers, when required.

An ElderCare/PrimePlus practice can be successful in serving clients if it exceeds their expectations. A firm's client service strategy should include "sweating the small stuff." For example, advisers may decide to visit clients every two weeks as they provide services. Even though some practitioners may not think that home visits are an efficient approach to providing ElderCare/PrimePlus services, such visits are essential in developing a relationship.

An adviser's job is to plan, oversee, coordinate and conduct a continuous and objective review of all of the ElderCare/PrimePlus services being provided. He or she may be assisted by a paraprofessional who carries out the details, as many activities are recurring.

Developing a Marketing Strategy

The growing demand for ElderCare/PrimePlus services provides an enormous untapped market. However, without a marketing strategy and a marketing plan, a firm will fail to maximize its opportunity to develop this niche into a substantial revenue source.

Firms often lack a comprehensive marketing strategy. This can challenge their attempts to grow the ElderCare/ PrimePlus services niche. Even though they understand that marketing is a critical factor in determining success, they "shoot from the hip" and then wait and see, without bothering to plan. Every year a firm should address important but nonurgent matters before busy season arrives, by revisiting its marketing plan.

Referrals: Most ElderCare/PrimePlus services referrals come from others within the community who are aware that a firm offers these services. A firm may also acquire new clients from other local firms that do not offer such services, but know of the firm's reputation and its ability to serve these special clients.

Existing clients: Marketing ElderCare/PrimePlus services from within a firm, without relying on referrals, can be a major challenge. Providing these services to existing clients is probably the best place to start. Another strategy is cross-selling, which is very challenging; firms Hill really need to focus their efforts. Long-time clients look to their firms as trusted advisers, but many of them may not understand ElderCare/ PrimePlus services or know that the firm offers them.

New clients: Firms need tools to take their marketing strategy for ElderCare/PrimePlus services to the next level. Besides continuing to market these services to existing clients, firms can attract new clients by creating a general awareness of the ElderCare/ PrimePlus services they offer.

Marketing approaches may include local advertising. A "canned newsletter" circulated to existing clients and an update of the website is helpful. Fortunately, many firms' websites are also "canned" so they are updated regularly by website vendors. These approaches are probably similar to those of many local firms.

Firms may also take advantage of marketing tools, such as the AICPA and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants' ElderCare/PrimePlus Marketing Toolkit, which contains virtually everything needed for marketing; see the exhibit at left.

Conclusion

Many firms that want to develop ElderCare/PrimePlus services have failed to do so because they lacked a marketing strategy. If a firm is considering whether to expand its current practice to include these services, it needs to plan wisely. Properly designing client communications pieces and understanding how the firm can differentiate itself from the competition (such as with home visits) are important ways to develop such services.

Providing these services within a traditional firm offers enormous potential and personal rewards for advisers. To a great extent, firms can expand their revenue base by first offering ElderCare/ PrimePlus services to existing clients, then reaching out to acquire new clients, thus providing an extremely valuable service to individuals and families in their community. Advisers should consider whether providing ElderCare/PrimePlus services is a natural fit for their firm. If so, offering these valuable services could prove to be a wise business decision.

Exhibit: CPA PrimePlus Services Marketing Toolkit (Including CPA ElderCare Services)

CPA PrimePlus Services is an enhancement of CPA ElderCare Services. This new, more positive and broader-based brand can be used by advisers to market a range of financial and lifestyle management services to active, mature adults.

The CPA PrimePlus Services Marketing ToolKit contains materials for both PrimePlus Services and ElderCare Services (updated specifically for practitioners who have already established the ElderCare brand in their local market). For those starting to offer this service, it is advisable to use the PrimePlus brand.

This CD includes a set of marketing materials, such as:

* Color and black and white ads suitable for newspapers, magazines or flyers.

* Client brochure and brochure insert card.

* Two sample introductory letters.

* A PowerPoint[R] presentation.

* Electronic logo files.

The materials explain PrimePlus Services to current or potential clients and how they can benefit from them. To help get started, there is also a Marketing Guide and Marketing Plan Template.

An adviser can create a custom list of services by adding or deleting services from the standard list in all the materials. Client letters and presentations can be customized by using Word[R] and PowerPoint[R]. The ads, brochures (with insert card) and client letters should be produced by a professional printer. A local printer can customize the brochures, ads or letters with a firm's contact information.

The AICPA also offers valuable publications on marketing ElderCare/ PrimePlus services, such as Assurance Services Alert: CPA ElderCare Services, Financial Planning for Older Clients and CPA ElderCare--PrimePlus: A Practitioners Resource Guide.

To order any of these products, visit www.cpa2biz.com.

Debra Wright, CPA

Audit Manager

Hereford, Lynch, Sellars & Kirkham, P.C.

Conroe, TX

Editor's note: For more information about this column, contact Ms. Wright at (936) 756-8127 or dwright@hlsk.com. The author thanks Mike Seefeld for his review.
COPYRIGHT 2005 American Institute of CPA's
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:financial planning
Author:Wright, Debra
Publication:The Tax Adviser
Date:Apr 1, 2005
Words:1104
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