Click Here To Listen To The Retirement Tax Services Podcast
When it comes to finances, taxes are just one piece of the puzzle. It is important that as financial advisors, you have a trusted CPA who you are in frequent communication with in regard to your clients’ finances. This is where Retirement Tax Services (RTS) can help. RTS provides advisors with everything they need to deliver massive value to retirement-focused clients. In this episode, Steven will be explaining exactly who Retirement Tax Services is, how it began as a company, and how it continues to bridge the gap between tax professionals, financial advisors, and their mutual clients.
Listen in as Steven shares how his team is able to help so many financial advisors by being intentional about who they serve, working completely virtually, and working with their advisors year-round. You will learn the importance of putting processes in place for every value-add you create for your clients, who RTS is a good fit for, and how RTS is affiliated with The Perfect RIA.
Steven and his guests share more tax-planning insights in today’s Retirement Tax Services Podcast. Feedback, unusual tax-planning stories, and suggestions for future guests can be sent to email@example.com.
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We’re not overpaying. No, we’re not overpaying. We’re not overpaying anymore. The tax code’s complicated, boring, and overrated. You don’t want that, you want a pro. One thing that you should know: this is a radio show. It’s not tax advice, don’t take it that way.
Steven Jarvis: Hello everyone, and welcome to the next episode of the Retirement Tax Services Podcast. I am your host, Steven Jarvis, CPA, and this week I’m taking a break from having a guest so that I can answer some frequently asked questions about the podcast.
I’ve had a lot of fun opportunities this year to meet a lot of advisors at conferences and in person who listen to the podcast. It’s been great to hear how much people love what we do here and are getting value out of it. That’s why we do it, that’s why I do it. So, I love to hear that.
But it also brought up several questions that I realized that over a hundred episodes in, I still haven’t totally answered for a lot of our listeners. So, I wanted to make sure I took a minute to answer some of those questions.
Now, obviously, the podcast is called the Retirement Tax Services Podcast, but every now and then, it comes as a surprise to advisors that Retirement Tax Services is also the name of my company. And so, I get the question, “What is Retirement Tax Services? Or what is RTS” as we like to call it?
So, RTS is a tax firm that specializes in working with financial advisors to deliver massive value through tax preparation and tax planning.
So, in some ways, we do a lot of the things that you think of when you think of CPAs and tax teams, but we do it in a very focused way that just isn’t what you would expect from most tax teams. We started the firm in early 2021 really with this unique focus on how do we collaborate with financial advisors.
So, we don’t work with any taxpayers unless we are also collaborating with their financial advisor. Because while I am the tax guy, taxes are just one piece of the puzzle, and we want to make sure that taxes are fitting into the larger picture. We also want to make sure that taxes are a bigger conversation than just “Hey, did we get a 1040 filed this year?”
So, the next question I get is, “Well, then how do you work with financial advisors at RTS?” And we work with financial advisors in two different ways. We have two different subscription models. One, we call Essentials. It’s education, resources, and content.
This is a similar theme to what we talk about on the podcast, but more resources behind it, more detail behind it. This is us helping advisors hit the easy button — well, the easier button, there still is work to tax planning no matter what resources we give you. But this is hitting the easier button on getting tax planning done in practice.
So, this isn’t proprietary tax strategies you’ve never heard of. This is a collaboration between tax professionals and advisors who are doing this stuff in practice to say what works when you sit down with a client.
What works when you delegate these things to your team? What works to get people to take action and actually follow through and get tax savings and tax flexibility from the great planning strategies that are out there? So, that’s our Essentials side.
We now work with hundreds of advisors to provide these resources. Again, it works as a monthly subscription. You can go to our website, retirementtaxservices.com, or you can go rts.tax. That’ll get you to the same place. Or feel free to send us an email, we’re happy to answer any questions you have; firstname.lastname@example.org
The other way that we work with advisors is what we call our premier membership. And this is everything I talked about under Essentials, but it also is that hands-on collaboration, that’s our tax team doing tax preparation and tax planning with what then become our shared clients with financial advisors.
So, this is really the reason that RTS was originally created, is to have that hands on in-depth collaboration. And so, that’s where we get really excited to see the impact we can have on individual taxpayers.
Because while we love putting out the resources coming up with new content, there’s new content every month between our newsletters and webinars and checklists and different resources that we put out — but really, what’s most exciting for me is being able to see the impact on individuals. And that’s what we get to do through our premier membership.
Another question that I get is, “Okay, but why do you work with financial advisors?” I know I’ve already touched on this a little bit, but it comes up often enough that I really want to maybe just go back in time a little bit and talk about where this really came from because it wasn’t just a spur of the moment, a random decision.
So, I am a CPA, I’ve spent most of my career doing probably whatever you think of as stereotypical CPA things, that’s doing a whole lot of work and working a whole lot of hours, working at big national firms, learning a lot about technical and compliance areas of tax and accounting.
But I also grew up around financial planning. My dad got into the business when I was a kid, and I was around the business. As I was in high school and in college, I got to see what financial planning was, at least from one perspective. So, I was probably more familiar than a lot of CPAs out there. So, that gave me a background in this area.
And then a few years ago, a couple of financial advisors approached me to say, “Hey, we’re always looking for ways that we can deliver more value to clients through taxes, but we really struggle to find tax resources that are really geared towards financial advisors.”
Now, there are some great technical resources that are geared towards financial advisors as it comes to taxes, but really where they were struggling was that tactical hands-on piece of what does this look like? Where do I put this on my calendar? How long is it going to take me? What forms do I need to think about? How do I review a tax return? Some of these things.
And then, in particular, what they couldn’t find was a tax team that would work hand in hand with them that had capacity to bring on new clients and they saw the bigger vision of what financial advisors are trying to do.
They weren’t looking for someone to just rubber stamp their ideas, but it can be very challenging to find tax preparers that have capacity. That’s a whole other industry issue with the accounting world right now that, unfortunately, no one asked for my opinion on.
And I don’t know that I have the answers anyway, so we’re not going to spend the podcast talking about how the accounting industry should change, but it’s a very real problem that I’m sure many of you can relate to.
And so, as we talk through the need for this and the potential opportunity, I got really excited to be able to have this direct impact on so many advisors and so many clients. And so, we started RTS to really answer this call for where is that tax team that will walk side by side? That’ll work just hand-in-hand, have that great collaboration with financial advisors to do more through tax planning.
Which brings up a related question that I get, especially as I talk about our premier membership, our hands-on collaboration with advisors. Advisors will just be real transparent, which I appreciate and say, “Well, hold on a second; it seems like most CPAs aren’t taking on new clients. So, how is RTS able to do that? What’s magically different and special?”
And I won’t claim that it’s any magic. I think really the biggest difference is intentionality. So, we took this approach to say, unlike so many tax preparers who want to be all things to all people and who want to be able to file all types of forms and just only be involved in the most complicated technical areas; we said we’re going to start really narrow on who we serve and we’re going to build an incredible team around that.
We have a couple of advantages in recruiting that a lot of firms don’t. One of those is certainly our commitment to being virtual. We work with advisors all over the country and so, we can have team members all over the country, and we currently do, which is great to see. It gives us an edge in recruiting because many accounting firms are still very focused on let’s all be in the office together.
So, we’re being really intentional about who we serve and how we serve. We have a business plan laid out for when we start looking for our next team members, which really puts us in a situation where we’re almost continually recruiting or at least on the lookout for great talent.
We also are able to give our team members a different experience than they’re getting at a traditional accounting firm because we are not just doing tax compliance, we’re not just doing the tax filings, but we’re doing the tax planning. It gives them something new and exciting to learn. And so far, our team members have really leaned into that.
So, we’re able to bring on new clients where a lot of other CPAs are at capacity because of how our model is different, because we’re not just trying to see how many 1040s we can churn out during tax filing season.
We work with our clients, we work with our advisors year-round, so we don’t have to double our staff just in February and March and April and then let them all go again. We hire full-time, year round team members who are building these relationships and getting to see the progress over time of the impact that we can have on the taxpayers that we work with.
Probably related to this question, another one that I get from advisors is, “Well, does that mean that you’ll do my tax return referring to the advisors return?” And like I said before, we started really narrow with who we work with.
And so, in general, right now, taxpayers, we work with recording this near the end of 2022, just in case anybody’s listening in the future, and we’ve expanded our offering. But as of right now, the taxpayers we work with are really focused on individuals and families.
Variety of sources of income, rental properties, maybe small side hustle — but for general taxpayers, we’re not doing 1065s as a partnership return or 1120s, which is an S-Corp return. We’re not doing bookkeeping and payroll.
There’s a lot of these things that we’re intentionally not doing so that we have the capacity and capability to provide an incredibly quality service to the people we do work with. But as we continue to gradually expand what we are offering, we have started offering tax returns for our premier members themselves, which we’re really excited about.
We have a lot of advisors who are very excited to again, be working with a tax team that has this forward-looking and longer-term focus to make sure that it’s not just an annual filing and “Hey, see you next year.”
But this is a relationship, it’s a collaboration; it’s an active discussion on not just how do we get taxes filed correctly (which is important), but how do we look to the future to make sure that we are sanding off the rough edges of that lifetime tax bill, and making sure that we can confidently say that we are not tipping the IRS.
Now, a lot of that is descriptions from a pretty high level. I definitely get very specific questions, especially on our Essentials side. I list out those different things, like newsletters and webinars and checklists. We have a forum for our community. I do tax return reviews for our members. And so, I get questions about, okay, but what does that really look like?
So, let me give you some examples of some of the things that we’re doing. So, as of the time this recording, the newsletter we’re working on next is all about getting a 1099 letter done. And so, if you’re not familiar, a 1099 letter is really, it’s a year in tax planning letter that advisors can prepare and then send to their clients to provide to their tax preparers.
And sometimes, I’ll get a little bit pushback and advisors will say, “Well, it just sounds like you’re trying to make the CPA’s life easier.” And that’s certainly a byproduct, but at the end of the day, it’s value to your clients.
So, this 1099 letter, we are certainly not the only ones who talk about it. There’s even some software programs out there who will help you do some of the legwork behind it.
But at the end of the day, for something like this to be successful, any type of value add to our clients, we’ve really got to make sure there’s a process start to finish. And that’s where we excel. We work with so many different advisors who are willing to share what works for them in practice.
That when we write a newsletter, it’s not theory, it’s not getting on a soapbox and just philosophizing about what might work. We’re pulling from the experience of the advisors we work with and our own team to say, “Hey, here are things we know work in practice. So, take what makes sense for you and adjust it where you need to make sure that this also is going to work in your practice.”
And so, we go through and talk about the timing of when you need to start gathering data and organizing your process, and what parts can be delegated to team members, and what types of things should be included in that 1099 letter.
We give a checklist of make sure you’ve talked about Roth conversions or qualified charitable distributions or accounts that were closed, or rollovers that took place. And this whole list of making sure that this 1099 letter isn’t just an idea but something that can be executed and can be real value to clients. So, that’s just one example.
An example of a checklist that we have put out, we call it our 37-point checklist on reviewing tax returns. The name is definitely a little bit on the nose as far as what it is, but hey, at the end of the day, I’m still a CPA, sometimes I’m overly practical.
But this came from questions that we got from advisors about, “Hey, I get the value of reviewing tax returns, of getting tax data, but what do I do once I get the tax return?” Or for our advisors who are much more experienced and have a higher level of technical tax knowledge, they’re looking for, how do I delegate this to a team member? How do I just systematize this make sure it’s consistent time and time again.
So, we took what our team was already doing, we got input from advisors that we worked with and said, “Okay, here are key points that we can look for on every tax return. And while it’s the 37-point checklist, I got a little creative with the counting and put sub bullet points in there. So, there’s actually a lot more things in there. But this literally, it’s one page, front and back.
So, it can be printed, it can be used by team members, the advisor to just go through and say, “Here are the things that I should be looking at when I get a tax return to make sure that there aren’t red flags for potential issues to make sure we’re identifying planning opportunities.”
And the reason, reason I mentioned this checklist is that it’s one, we get so many questions and great feedback on, that it’s actually one of the only resources we’ve made available on a standalone basis.
And so, if you go out to retirementtaxservices.com or click in the show notes, there’s a link specifically to the page where you can get your own copy of the 37-point checklist. If you’re already a member of RTS, just log in and go and download this.
Whether you’re a member or you’re just looking for the checklist on your own, feel free to send us an email, advisorsrts.tax will get you pointed in the right direction. So, if you’re looking to kind of explore what we do or what we have to offer, that’s a great entry point before you sign up for a full membership to just buy that one checklist and see what we’re all about.
Another question that I get, especially as I talk about these different resources, is whether RTS is compliance-approved, which totally get where this question is coming from. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your compliance. We do not have blanket approvals from every firm, every BD, every financial advisor out there.
But that being said, our resources are only valuable if advisors can use them. And so, we put a lot of time and energy into making sure that these things can be used in practice and that means being able to get them approved by compliance.
And so, while we haven’t gotten blanket approvals for you, we’ve seen a lot of great success in our advisors at all shapes and sizes of firms, including up to some of the largest BDs in the country, including names that you would certainly recognize and associate with having very strict compliance departments.
We’ve had a lot of success getting these resources approved to be used client-facing. That’s our goal with a lot of these, is for advisors to be able to print them out, to be able to send them to clients, to be able to put your logo on, to have things that, again, are just hitting that easier button.
There’s still some work that you need to put into it. We’ve definitely had situations where advisors maybe have to add an extra disclaimer or change the wording slightly, but in general, we’ve seen advisors have a lot of success getting these things compliance approved and being able to use them with their clients.
And I think a big part of the reason for that success is that we get really clear on what the value proposition to the client is. While some of these things can certainly be great marketing pieces from the standpoint of showing clients what you focus on and how you help them — at the end of the day, these are all focused on delivering value to clients. It’s not a gimmick or click bait or anything like that. At the end of the day, we set these up so that they are valuable to your clients.
And so, advisors who have been successful getting these compliance approved, they go to the compliance department and explain, here is a way for me to deliver a lot of value to my clients, to our clients. How can we work together to make sure that this is a piece that we can use?
And taking that team, that collaborative approach with compliance is going to make all the difference on how successful an advisor is on getting that approved and then being able to use it in practice.
Another question I get from advisors is whether RTS is a great fit for every advisor. And my answer to that is absolutely not. It’s not meant to be a great fit for every advisor. It is a great fit for a lot of advisors. It’s certainly a great fit for advisors who are serious about tax planning and who are looking for ways to up their game.
Now, that can be a whole spectrum of things. We definitely work with advisors who are new to tax planning or new to financial advising in general, and are looking for targeted resources. Google can give you all the information on tax laws, on tax strategies, but this is for advisors who want that targeted information, who don’t want to sift through millions and millions of results on Google, who want to get to the things that they can do and practice that are going to apply to their clients.
We also have advisors who are decades deep in their technical tax skills. They come to us so that they can use our resources to delegate this to their team, to know what they should focus on in a particular month, to not have to spend time researching how rules or limits or credits are changing in a given year.
So, we see advisors all the way across that spectrum, of new to tax and incredibly experienced in tax getting a lot of value out of what we have to offer because of that focus we have on delivering value to that end client.
At the end of the day, that’s what we’re looking for is, does this have an impact on the taxpayers? Does this help people have peace of mind, reduce the pain of the process, find tax savings? I always love it when we can find quantifiable tax savings when we’re working with clients and also, creating tax flexibility.
This isn’t just about, “Hey, can we save you a million dollars in taxes?” In fact, I can honestly say I have never worked with a client who in one situation, we were able to save a million dollars in taxes. That’s just not who we focus on. That’s certainly a possibility.
But we’re looking at what can we do consistently with a wide variety of clients to make sure that we are moving the needle over time on tax planning. We don’t want to get distracted by flashy headlines or these one-time things that feel like gimmicks. If we work together over the next 5, 10, 20 years, are we going to be able to put a plan in place that’s going to help those taxpayers come out ahead and not overpay the IRS?
One other question that I get before we talk about how you can sign up for RTS, which is the last question I get quite often, is, “How is RTS affiliated with the perfect RIA?”
Now, I know a lot of our listeners will listen to both podcasts. If you don’t yet listen to the Perfect RIA Podcast, I’d certainly encourage you to do that. They take a broader approach to working with advisors and talk about nearly every area of building your practice.
But the Perfect RIA and RTS, we look at them as sister companies. They’re related but separate companies. There’s clearly overlap in the things that we talk about, the things that we focus on, some terminology that we use. We definitely have borrowed things like delivering massive value, the dishwasher rule, some of these other things from Matt and Micah over at the Perfect RIA.
As I talked earlier about advisors a couple years ago coming to me and saying, “Hey, here’s this need that we need to fill,” that was Matt and Micah, and it was their work with hundreds, if not thousands of advisors to identify that need and see the vision for being able to address that.
But they are not tax professionals themselves. And so, I came along to be that tax professional to lead this team to be able to be that answer for advisors. Now, Matt and Micah both have clients who work with RTS and are having a great experience, are getting incredible value out of the process.
The last question that I will frequently get as I’m going through this different information with advisors is, “Okay, great, then how do I get signed up? I don’t see a place on your website to become a member. Why is that?”
We do take what we call a “closed card” approach to when members can sign up. So, that means there’s only a few times a year, a few open windows for advisors to become part of RTS. We do this so that our team can spend most of the year focused on delivering massive value to the advisors and taxpayers we serve. And then we have these limited windows for advisors to get committed and signed up.
Now, like I said before, we do now have a way for people to dive in at any point and to get that 37-point checklist to at least get started working with us. So, I definitely encourage you to do that. If you’re not listening to this during a current open window, you can send us an email at advisorsrts.tax and we’ll let you know when that next window is going to be.
More important than necessarily getting signed up with RTS right now today, though we’d be happy to welcome you, is that you make a commitment to doing something around tax planning. Like I said before, RTS is not going to be the perfect fit for every advisor, although we do feel strongly we can do a lot for most of you. It’s that commitment that you make, that willingness to continue to up your game, to continue to level up what you’re doing for clients. That’s the most important part.
So, whether it’s RTS or another resource, this is just shifting us right into action items since that’s something we always include in these podcasts, is one of the action items you need to commit to as we get to the end of 2022 and into 2023, is that you are going to do something more for your clients around taxes this next year.
Signing up for RTS is a great way to do that. Really excited for some of the things we have coming in 2023, our very first webinar, our very first power session of 2023, is going to get very tactical on how this fits into your calendar, when you need to be doing these things. We’re literally going to share a calendar of week by week how you can get these things done.
So, we’re going to get very prescriptive with our members. That’s going to be a nation webinar that other people can join as well. But committing to that action, committing to having that follow through, that leveling up each year is really that first action item you need to take. Didn’t really cover it in this episode, but I think it’s worth mentioning anytime we talk about taxes.
Next action item is that you really have to be getting tax returns for all your clients, even if you never sign up for RTS, getting that tax return — good analogy for this is like a doctor looking at blood pressure or other vitals.
It’s such an integral part of a person’s financial life. It’s just got to be non-negotiable. It’s got to be something you do with every prospect, with every client. If you are ever wondering what you should do with that tax return when you get it, go out to retirementtaxservices.com or send us an email and get that signed up for that 37-point checklist so that you have a systematized way to go through those tax returns to make sure that you’re delivering value.
Last action item, if you’ve been listening along this far, there’s clearly something that you’re getting out of this podcast. I really appreciate everyone who does listen, we get to thousands of advisors every single month, and we’d love for that reach that audience to continue to grow. So, take a minute to leave us a five-star review, leave us a comment, share this with your friends, other financial advisors you know.
We’re so excited again about that impact that we can have. So, we’d love to hear how this is benefiting your life. Send us your questions, I’ll do another episode like this at some point in the future as I get more questions for advisors. Next week, we’ll be back to having guests on the show.
So, thanks for everyone for listening. Until next time, good luck out there, and remember to tip your server, not the IRS.
We’re not overpaying. No, we’re not overpaying. We’re not overpaying anymore. The tax code’s complicated, boring, and overrated. You don’t want that, you want a pro. One thing that you should know: this is a radio show. It’s not tax advice, don’t take it that way.
The information on this site is for education only and should not be considered tax advice. Retirement Tax Services is not affiliated with Shilanski & Associates, Jarvis Financial Services or any other financial services firms.