Suzie Korth is a partner at Duffy Kruspodin’s La Jolla office with over 30 years of experience in public accounting. Korth’s expertise includes working with private real estate investors, professional services practices and small business owners with various needs, including providing outsourced accounting and financial services, income tax planning and compliance.
Korth established and currently leads the firm’s expanding CAS (client advisory services) department, which collaborates closely with clients to understand their business, relieve them of the day-to-day accounting tasks and create solutions to improve their bottom line.
Russ Alan Prince: Can you describe the clients you work with?
Suzie Korth: We work with a wide variety of clients that range from mom-and-pop to multimillion-dollar manufacturing companies. We provide back-office support, business management, business advice and tax planning.
Back-office support is part of the firm’s CAS—client advisory services—department, which we are in the process of launching. Back-office support includes providing our clients with financials, bank reconciliations, sales tax and payroll tax returns. It’s all the things that keep the back office running.
Our CAS department is expanding into family office services, where we act like the financial quarterback for our clients and provide a wide range of services tailored to the needs of each client. These needs can be anything from helping them purchase a new car to insurance analysis, finding a yacht broker and optimizing their financial lives.
Since we work with every type of client, from small to large, the tasks we do for each of them vary. For example, a client may come to us to reconcile their bank accounts so they can accurately see how much money they have. For others, we provide more customized CFO services, where we analyze and help them understand their financials and offer suggestions to maximize their bottom line.
Prince: While CAS is the primary focus of your practice, do you also focus on any other areas?
Korth: Yes, tax. Everyone has a different tax situation. I find it incredibly rewarding to understand my client’s situation and use my tax law knowledge to help them maximize their deductions, minimize their liabilities and plan for their future. So, in short, I focus on tax and all other aspects of my client’s financial well-being.
Prince: Can you give us an example of how you helped a client?
Korth: There have been many—but one that comes to mind is an acupuncture school. When they first became clients, they were right across the street. The shareholders had just finished acupuncture school and started their business, the school itself. Soon, they moved to another location, expanded to New York, and then to Chicago. Eventually, they sold the schools. We were really involved with them. We paid their bills and were extremely involved with their day-to-day planning and managing their financials. We got involved with all the shareholders, and they knew that we were there to help. There were a lot of moving parts and a lot of tax planning. They were a great client, and we nurtured their growth so they could successfully sell their business.
Prince: That is a great example and a natural transition to ask how you integrate DK Wealth Management into your practice.
Korth: The best example would be one of my clients who owns and manages assisted living facilities. It started as just one you guy with a vision of owning an assisted living facility. And so, he purchased a home with his parents, and we helped him budget and pay his bills. He began to get clients in the home, bought another one, and then expanded into three homes.
A little while later, he purchased another practice and incorporated it into his company. It was a real struggle for him for a good 10 to 15 years before it began to show some success. His business continued to improve, and recently, we introduced him to our wealth management team to help him manage, preserve, and grow his finances.
Prince: Are clients asking about wealth management services, and do they know that DK offers them?
Korth: Wealth management has always been a referral or referral source. We all have advisors that we work with, but this is the first time we have had this service in-house. I have known and worked with Kris with DK Wealth Management for over 10 years. Now he is in-house, and it’s great! I have great confidence in Kris and his team.
Wealth management does not always come up in a conversation with clients, but as we look at their financials and planning, it becomes natural to say, hey, you need to talk to Kris at DK Wealth Management and bring them into the mix. Clients are not necessarily asking for it because they do not always know they need it.
Prince: How do you see the accounting industry changing?
Korth: When I started, it wasn’t called CAS. It was bookkeeping. It was work that firms did on the side to keep people busy during the off-season.
My practice has always been heavy in back-office bookkeeping. Seeing it get some recognition and become a more significant part of the firm is nice. It adds so much value to our clients and really helps them out. And that’s a relationship I like to have. With CAS, you are proactive and involved with clients all year long, so there are no surprises when you get to the year-end.
Prince: Having a CAS client sounds like a great advantage since you’re in touch with them year-round and can stay close to their financial issues.
Korth: It sure is! Some accounting firm family office practices focus on a menu of services and products from wealth management to concierge medicine. However, the DK Family Office practice emulates what high-performing single-family offices provide to extremely wealthy families.
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 them.
At DK, our goal is to deliver the best advice and solutions to all our clients, and the family office practice is one of the ways we can provide our clients, especially successful business owners, solutions that help them achieve their goals cost-effectively.
Russ Alan Prince is the executive director of Private Wealth magazine and chief content officer for High-Net-Worth Genius. He is a strategist for family offices and the ultra-wealthy.