Beware the Leeches and Consultants

If you’ve read a few of my articles and posts, you know how much I love the blood suckers, who call themselves consultants to the CPA profession, and try to sell us sure fire solutions to practice success.  I recently ran into yet another shady bunch of pretenders promoting themselves on Facebook.  You’ve probably heard of them by now – Certified Tax Coaches.

They tout training services that will get your average annual revenue per tax client to $10K per year.  They’re going to do this by teaching you to offer proactive tax planning services, because all of you idiot CPA’s out there aren’t capable of figuring out how to do tax planning on your own.

I see a lot of CPA firm websites.  I don’t think I’ve seen one in the last ten years not already offering tax planning services.  My real gripe with the CTC organization is marketing sleaze that is even beneath the average low level of consulting firm nonsense.

I saw an ad on Facebook claiming the $10K annual tax client billing number.  I was intrigued, but in Facebook troll way, because everything you read on Facebook is true.  My wife and kids rate my troll skills as world class.  So, I did a little sleuthing.  It’s something we CPA’s are pretty damn good at.

From the CTC web site, I found a CPC member’s website, who is charging $150 per month for full bookkeeping including payroll, business and personal tax preparation, and tax consulting.  I don’t have to take my shoes off to calculate that 12 times $150 is a little less than $10K.  When I pointed this out in the comments to the Facebook ad, the page admin deleted my comment.  They should have blocked me from the page altogether, as I did a little more sleuthing about the organization.

First, the organization is a non-profit.  That’s interesting on its own merits, as the only service the group seems to provide is training seminars leading to the CTC certification.  I would love to the read the 1023 form submitted to the IRS and compare it to what they actually do.  This looks like a for profit company to me.  The organization was founded by a woman, who spent a whopping seven years in her own practice.  Now, there’s a real expert.  Her practice was so great, she left it to create a nonprofit.  Maybe her practice was a nonprofit?!

Second, the website has a FAQ about the number of CTC’s.  Here’s the answer from the site:

There are less than 500 specialists in 48 states trained by American Institute of Certified Tax Coaches. This elite network of tax professional includes CPAs, EAs, attorneys and financial service providers.”

So just how many are there?  Closer to 500 or closer to a dozen?  Do CPA’s answer questions this way?  I don’t, and I hope you don’t either.  I suspect the number of members is equal to the number of authors of the book each of the featured members claims to have authored on their own websites.  Here is the link to the book on Amazon.com.  You could be the first to leave a review.  It’s a top seller.  The title tells you everything you need to know.

https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Tax-Free-Life-1/dp/0983234116

I looked at a number of the co-authors’ websites.  One touts that he answers his own phone calls.  He doesn’t have an admin person answering the phone.  This screams “newbie” doesn’t it?  He’s also looking for tax season help.  I’m going to sign right up.  So just how elite is this guy?

Finally, the promotional hype for the tax saving ideas is the standard old junk.  They are teaching all those tax secrets the rich people know that poor old regular folk never hear about.  In fact, the tax savings solutions are all very garden variety, at best.  Let’s capture all that business mileage!!  There’s a state of the art tax planning suggestion.  Another one is to write a book to generate passive income.  Yep, a lot of my clients are lining up to write best sellers.  How many authors in your client base earn positive taxable income?  Maybe a few.

Here’s the point of my tirade.  A lot of firms are suffering from commoditization and looking for easy answers.  There aren’t any.  The people selling the easy answers will just drain your bank account.  We give our clients good advice all the time.  Let’s drink our own Kool-Aid.  Stick to good sources of practice management information.  Read my post about my favorite sources.  These are excellent.

http://www.claritypracticemanagement.com/workflow/my-favorite-cpa-accounting-and-tax-practice-management-gurus/

Based on the dates of the last few blogs on this site, you might reasonably ask where I have been.  Ignore the rumors.  I was not in rehab for my Diet Coke addiction.  I am still addicted.  I have written a book on practice management.  I’ll give you more details as the book gets closer to publication.  I promise you no easy answers.

Thanks for reading!

Frank Stitely, CPA, CVA

Partner, Stitely & Karstetter PLLC

Partner, Clarity Practice Management

 

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