Surveys of business owners have identified accountants as the most trusted of professional advisors. In addition to asking for audit, tax, and other financial advice, clients frequently confer with their accountants on business strategy, personnel issues, personal estate planning, and much more.
An accountant may be the only advisor in whom clients are willing to confide sensitive issues relating to their business partners or family finances. When this happens, it can be an opportunity for you to strengthen your relationship with the client by sharing your valuable experience and insights.
But there are other instances when you may better serve your interests, as well as the client’s, by collaborating with another professional to meet the client’s needs:
- Conflict among Principals: When the co-owners of a client company are at odds with one another, you know that staying out of the middle can be tricky. No advisor wants to jeopardize long-term relationships by even the appearance of partiality or conflict of interest.
- Business Succession: It can be difficult to retain the trust — and future business — of the younger generation in a family business while advising their elders through a challenging generational transition. Management and ownership transitions in closely-held businesses can present similar complications.
- Estate Planning: Anxiety and secrecy in estate planning can lead clients to disappointment and family conflict. For their advisors, intervening in this highly personal process can be an exceedingly delicate matter.
- Emotional Challenges: Business issues among partners and in family businesses are often projections of significant individual emotional problems. Becoming involved with such issues is fraught with danger for business advisors.
BMC Associates has specialized for more than 20 years in helping business partners and family businesses through precisely these and related situations with consulting, coaching, facilitation, and mediation. We bring our experience as psychologists, mediators, and business professionals to complement your expertise and knowledge of the client. Together with trusted accountants, we have helped many partners and business families get through very difficult passages — while strengthening the accountant’s long-term relationship with the client.
You can learn more about the specific services we offer in the Resolve Conflict and Prevent Conflict sections of this website. If you would like more information, please contact Dr. Edward Kopf at 301.718.0628 or contact us.
Resources for Accountants
The following materials on this website may be of special interest to accountants and other financial professionals:
- The Partnership Charter: How To Start Out Right With Your New Business Partnership (Or Fix The One You’re In). The Charter is a process and document that enable partners to thoroughly address both the business and personal issues that exist in every closely held business.
- “Partners, Fairness and Compensation.” The editors of Family Business Magazine invited David Gage to write about how some siblings in family businesses have faced the issue of their own compensation head on. This chapter in the Compensation Handbook tells a number of stories of siblings who recognized how intimately compensation is tied to many other issues partners must negotiate.
- “Successor Partners: Gifting or Transferring a Business or Real Property to the Next Generation.” This article explores ways to overcome the risks that arise whenever a business or other asset is transferred from one generation to more than one member of the next. It focuses on various strategies, utilized by the authors, for the successful transfer of operating businesses when the beneficiaries will be partners in the ownership and/or operation of the bequest. David Gage, John Gromala, and Edward Kopf published the article in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel Journal.
- “Marital Charters and Prenuptial Agreements.” This article by David Gage, Edward Kopf and John Gromala describes how the Partnership Charter process, developed over the past 15 years to help family and non-family business partners, can be adapted to help those entering a marriage. Many couples need to address issues concerning business or other assets brought to the marriage by one or both parties. The Marital Charter goes beyond traditional prenuptial agreements by endeavoring to manage the often complex economic aspects of a marital union in ways that will not detract from the couples loving commitment to one another. The article was published in the American Journal of Family Law.
- “Holistic Estate Planning and Integrating Mediation in the Planning Process.” David Gage, John Gromala, and Edward Kopf discuss holistic estate planning as an alternative to traditional estate planning. Providing a brief background on the development of holistic estate planning, this article in Real Property, Probate and Trust Journal explores the advantages of this alternative method of estate planning, which uses mediation techniques and family dynamics specialists to facilitate the pre-estate planning process. Through the use of two case studies, the authors demonstrate how involving the entire family in the estate planning process can facilitate the transition of assets between generations. Participation of the entire family in collaborative estate planning allows parents, children, and estate planning attorneys to create a better estate plan that will transfer not only family assets but also family values and traditions.