He says people like Kuttin give financial advisors a good name, but Ponzi schemes and other scandals involving Bernard Madoff and others in the investment advice business give accountants pause when it comes to working with financial advisors. “Some accountants tend to not want to recommend advisors [to their clients] because there’s the fear if the advisor does something wrong they could lose that client relationship,” Cerini says.

He notes that collaboration and communication are keys to the CPA-FA relationship. “Having good communication is what it’s all about because if something is happening in the client’s tax life that can be relayed to the financial planning side they know what’s happening and can prepare for it regarding their investment strategy, and vice versa.”

Different Options
Jonathan Kuttin started a solo advisor shop in 1994 after graduating from the State University of New York at Albany. His practice eventually grew, and in 2012 he partnered with Metis Group, a large CPA firm in New York City. Today, Kuttin-Metis has 14 advisors and 19 paraplanners and support staff serving roughly 1,200 mainly mass-affluent families with about $1.5 billion in assets.

After his epiphany about teaming his advisory practice with CPAs, Kuttin began making the rounds and knocking on the doors of some of his clients’ accountants. Initially, he got nowhere fast.

“I went out and turned off CPAs by leading with all of the wrong things,” he explains. “At the end of the day, what this is all about is CPAs will do business with a financial advisor only if they think it’s good for their clients. I think a lot of advisors present it as a business opportunity first by promising to create a new revenue stream for their practice. That makes business sense, but you won’t go into business with someone unless you trust them and believe it’s good for your clients.”

Kuttin says he eventually learned the ropes with the help of Kenneth Cerini. “Ken is an integral part of that because I’ve built a great relationship with him and he gave them an insight into the mind-set of CPAs. Once you understand that mind-set, it’s easier to communicate with them in a way that will interest them. I teach advisors how to get on the same page with CPAs.”

And advisors are willing to listen to what Kuttin has to say because of the success his firm has had in working with CPAs over the years. The majority of Kuttin-Metis’ roughly 50 CPA relationships are in the New York metro area, with others located around the country that he’s built through his coaching business.

After a relationship between a CPA firm and Kuttin’s firm is established, the process goes something like this: The accountant identifies a client who could benefit from Kuttin-Metis’ financial planning services and recommends Kuttin to the client as someone who could add value to them. If that leads to a meeting between Kuttin and the client, and the client wants to work with Kuttin, they have three options.