By Ruth Raftery
"Hello! My name is Samantha and I am an automated voice recognition answering service. You can speak to me as you would with a live representative. Please tell me, what are you calling about today?"
It seems many calls I make lately– whether to credit card companies or to other businesses – are answered by the type of technology that runs programs like "Samantha." In my experience, these systems can never actually answer the types of questions a person can.
That said, we in the accounting industry are reading daily articles about automation and artificial intelligence: and how forthcoming technology will swipe jobs away from accountants and tax preparers. I agree that it is not long before technology will be able to produce a flawless tax return, which can spike fear in the hearts of present and future accountants. However, what many seem to be misunderstanding is the value of a "relationship" with your accountant.
In many cases, your accountant knows (or should know) more about you than any other service provider in your life. We know how much money you make, what your family situation is like, and what types of investments you have. We are often the go-to person for all types of financial decisions that you make throughout your lifetime. As one of the most trusted advisors to our clients, we often receive questions that demand a profound understanding and knowledge of the client’s mindset and long-term goals. Questions like: “should I convert my IRA to a Roth IRA?;” “when should I start taking Social Security benefits?;” "do I have the right amount and type of insurance?;” and “how can I transfer my business to the next generation?” cannot be answered without a deep understanding of a client’s individual situation.
Ten years ago, accountants were concerned about the concept of "outsourcing" and worried that the migration of tax work overseas would take away their jobs. The reality of the situation was that outsourced service succeeded when dealing with tax compliance; however, they simply did not - and could not - provide a personal client relationship.
Although many elements of tax preparation can and will be automated in the near future, the trust built from a personal relationship between an accountant and his or her client cannot be outsourced or automated. Both accountants and clients need to understand the value of the accountant-client relationship. Knowing you, and your family and what keeps you up at night provides valuable insight that allows accountants to provide truly valuable advice. At Wiss, we strive to build personal relationships with our clients. We understand that your accountant should be more than someone who enters numbers on a form. We are determined to earn our role as a devoted partner you can grow with and are passionate about providing you and your family with a matchless, personalized experience based on integrity and value.
In her role as a Tax Director in the Estate, Gift and Trust Services group, Ruth Raftery is involved in all aspects of estate, gift and trust taxation for individuals and families. If you would like to contact Ruth, you may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646.677.3146.