Financial advisors who want to be independent are becoming more open to the idea of branching out into areas that are recession proof, such as tax preparation, according to two advisors who have successfully taken that route.
"Financial advisors are shell shocked and are looking for other venues," said Joseph Fontana, vice president of franchise development for Smart Tax, a tax preparation service founded in 2005 and headquartered in Brooklyn, N.Y. with offices in New Jersey and Texas. "I firmly believe that one new venue can be tax preparation. The feedback I am getting from other financial advisors to that idea is phenomenal."
Fontana and Nick Rizzi, founder of Smart Tax, became dissatisfied working for banks and large investment firms.
"People were losing money on their investments. The advisor's revenue stream was being cut and we did not own our book, so we wanted to go independent," says Fontana.
Rizzi adds, "The economy being what it is, many financial advisors feel paralyzed. Going into tax preparation was a no-brainer for me. I wanted a business that was much more stable and I wanted clients coming to me who needed my help."
Smart Tax began franchising in November 2009 and now has eight franchise sites. The initial investment cost is $20,000. Two current franchisees are financial advisors and three more expected to open officers this year also are financial advisors. Rizzi says Smart Tax provides the training necessary to make the switch to tax preparation, but many of the franchisees probably will expand their tax preparation to also offer other financial services, just as he and Fontana plan to do.
"Whether you are high-net-worth or not you need tax preparation," Fontana adds. "They come to us with their financial information and we can build a relationship on that."