[ Interview ] How to win next-gen clients

Chris Hervochon was interviewed by Journal of Accountancy

By Courtney L. Vien • Journal of Accountancy

Clients under 40 may not represent a large share of your client base. But there’s a good case for attracting more of them. Win their business now, say CPAs who serve them, and you have the opportunity to convert them into long-term clients who will likely need more of your services as they mature.

Most Millennials have fairly straightforward finances now, but that’s poised to change. As Baby Boomers retire at the rate of 10,000 per day, members of younger generations are stepping forward to succeed them. More than one-third of the U.S. labor force is composed of Millennials, who recently eclipsed Gen Xers to become the largest generational group in the workplace.

As Millennials mature and advance in their careers, their wealth will grow. A Deloitte report predicts that Millennials’ assets will increase from $1.4 trillion in 2015 to $11.3 trillion by 2030. Millennials may also soon see an influx of inherited wealth: The United States will see a $68 trillion transfer of wealth over the next 25 years, and much of that money will pass into the hands of younger generations.

Provide a streamlined experience

Younger clients expect most services to be as seamless and convenient as online shopping or ride-sharing apps, said Chris Hervochon, CPA, owner of Chris Hervochon CPA CVA in Hilton Head Island, S.C.

“They want a frictionless experience,” he said. “They want to be able to do their taxes on the beach and not to have to schedule something in the middle of the day when they’re going to have to take time off from work or hire a sitter.”

Younger CPAs often share this mindset, said Kristen Pilchard, CPA, a Millennial and a tax supervisor with TGM Group LLC in Salisbury, Md. “Instead of contacting a client for missing information and having to wait for them to put it in the mail, drop it off, or fax it to me, I would love it if they could seamlessly shoot it to me in a secure email,” she said. Then, she’d be able to work with that information whether she was in the office or working remotely.

Many firms don’t yet provide this smooth experience, Ohanesian said. Review your processes around client interaction and think about “how you can take something from 60 clicks down to five clicks,” he suggested. For instance, he said, adopt technologies that can make working with you more convenient for your clients, such as instant messaging, returns in PDF format, and electronic signatures.

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