We live in a world of short attention spans, social media, 24-hour news and two-minute YouTube clips. Novelties, fads and marketing gimmicks can grab someone’s attention for a moment, but keeping their attention requires substance — it requires true thought leadership.
As a CPA, your clients deserve and are seeking your expertise and opinions. They need a trusted source of information that helps them cut through the noise of social media and gimmicks. They need you — for help in understanding the current tax landscape, where there are opportunities and pitfalls, and since the current environment is shifting towards a tax planning model. Clients are also getting inundated with information.
Thought leadership, therefore, is all about having ideas and not being afraid to share them. It is about seeing beyond the current uncertainty and finding ways to communicate perspectives and points of view so that clients and others can make better financial decisions. Take politics, for example. After the November elections, there was a lot of noise, distraction and some disappointment that clouded decisions for months. As a trusted advisor, CPAs needed to help their clients and organizations stay focused on what they can control. Regardless of who was (and who wasn’t) elected President, clients should understand how the outcome may affect their individual situation and what you are doing as their most trusted advisor to provide what-if planning.
CPAs need to be prepared for what may come and to show clients opportunities that fit their goals. The truth is, those who act on what they can control and influence, will find the next few years ripe with financial and estate and tax planning opportunities. Those that remain mired in the uncontrollable will miss out.
For high-net worth clients, estate taxes can be a place to help mitigate their tax exposure. Estate tax is a voluntary tax. As thought leaders we can find simple ways to motivate our clients to take advantage of tax planning opportunities. The planning clients do today can save them in the future. Motivating clients and moving past their concerns is a key role a thought leader plays in their clients’ lives.
Here are six simple steps to thought leadership:
- Find a topic and own it.
- Stay informed: Read. Read. Read.
- As you learn something, share it.
- Be a thought originator and a thought collector: Repost related content from other sources on this topic.
- Stay brief: Less than 1,000 words.
- Stay top of mind: Be their thought leader today and reap the rewards tomorrow.
Your clients need this type of proactive thought leadership. Control what you can control and influence and continue to be both a trusted advisor and a true thought leader.