Many accounting firms are establishing family office practices in response to client demand. The complication is that many of these family office practices have limited depth and expertise. Sometimes, these practices are nothing more than dressing up the firm’s accounting and administrative services. When an accounting firm’s family office practice emphasizes bill paying, for example, there is a real question as to the proficiencies of the practice.
There are notable exceptions. Quite a few accounting firms are building family office practices that can provide the highest levels of expertise to optimize their clients’ financial and personal lives. An example is Duffy Kruspodin (DK), a 16-partner accounting firm in California with clients nationwide. The DK partners work with many clients, including many very successful business owners. To better serve successful business owners, DK established a family office practice.
“Our goal is to deliver the best advice and solutions to all our clients,” says Mark Kruspodin, CPA/PFS, managing partner at DK. “Our family office practice is one of the ways we can provide our clients, especially successful business owners, solutions that help them achieve their agendas cost-effectively. We recognize that our family office practice is currently not the norm in the accounting field. Because of our family office practice, we can serve our clients that are way above the norm. Our family office practice approaches our clients holistically based on a deep understanding of their wants, needs, and circumstances. Then, often in conjunction with a team of renowned specialists, we develop and implement the best solutions for these clients.”
While some accounting firm family office practices focus on a menu of services and products from wealth management to concierge medicine, the DK family office practice mirrors what high-performing single-family offices provide to extremely wealthy families.
According to Homer Smith, director of the DK Family Office Practice and co-author of Making Smart Decisions: How Ultra-Wealth Families Get Superior Wealth Planning Results, “Our approach follows the DK mantra of delivering exceptional value to clients. We empower our clients by ensuring they understand their options enabling them to make smart decisions. Moreover, we bring many of the solutions single-family offices bring to the super-rich to those significantly less wealthy. For example, for some clients, we help them structure their investable assets so they never, and I mean never, have to pay any taxes on the growth of those assets. Single-family offices have been doing this for a long time, and we do the same for DK clients.”
More and more accounting firms will likely be establishing family office practices. Many of them will be doing nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs and changing the flowers. However, some accounting firms will follow firms like DK and build family office practices that bring state-of-the-art expertise to accomplished individuals and families.
Russ Alan Prince is the executive director of Private Wealth magazine and chief content officer for High-Net-Worth Genius. He consults with family offices, the wealthy, fast-tracking entrepreneurs and select professionals.