Estate and Personal Financial Planning
Pennsylvania CPA Journal (08/00) Vol. 71, No. 2 p.13; Jawinski, Robert C.

According to AICPA, about 66,000 CPAs are now, or are in the process of becoming, registered investment advisers. There is currently a trend in which CPAs are moving from traditional compliance roles to more diverse roles to assist clients in all aspects of finance. One reason for the large number of CPA conversions is that CPAs have long been considered the professionals that clients trust the most, easing client acquisition. Also, CPAs' understanding of clients' entire financial situation allows them to offer all-encompassing solutions to problems. Their tax expertise gives them an edge on dealing with the complexities of income and transfer taxes that must be considered with every financial decision. CPAs are also well equipped to help clients deal with the many problems they face. Some of these problems are the effect of increasing life expectancies and decreased Social Security and private retirement plan benefits; more expensive health care; vanishing job security due to restructuring to reduce costs; increasing investment volatility; and changing tax laws. Many clients also want help in understanding the appropriate investment policy and monitoring portfolio returns, while others want complete management of their investments. In general, CPAs are trained to help clients make sure that their income lasts, understand the complex nature of retirement plan distributions, and design estate plans for high net worth. CPAs are also trained in tax efficient investing, which calls for making fewer dividends subject to ordinary income tax, making more gains subject to long-term capital gains tax rates, having appreciation tax deferred until securities are sold, and harvesting tax losses.

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