Partnering with
Financial Planners

Interview with 'Business in Focus'
Stacks Image 67
Partnering with Financial Planners for "Business in Focus" Dec 2012 - Jan 2013

A guide to growth for accounting firms

Released: September 2012

Currently this book is (a) out of print and (b) undergoing its second print run. Should you wish to be notified when it is available, please email Scott Charlton at the following email address: 

This book presents a comprehensive coverage of an area of accounting practice which has traditionally been ignored or executed extremely poorly - how accountants can (and should) provide financial services to their clients.

No matter how small or large your accounting firm there is an appropriate solution for you and your clients. This book however provides much more than merely explaining the pros and cons of the various options available – employ a planner, become licenced yourself, enter into a joint venture etc. A fundamental theme throughout is achieving a productive collaboration between accountants and financial planners. The author explains how to create a meaningful collaborative environment such that clients receive full benefit from their primary financial advisers working closely together.

The book provides helpful guidance regarding the options available to accountants with the recently announced phasing out of the Accountants Exemption. There is in fact much for accountants to gain in embracing (at least) the limited licence option which will apply from 1 July 2013.

Also, for accountants contemplating a licence which includes providing product recommendations, the book includes a discussion of the recently re-released draft accounting standard APES 230. Also expected to be effective from 1 July 2013, this standard contains very specific expectations as to how accountants will be remunerated for these services.

Helpfully, the book includes numerous case studies from the author’s experience which illustrate key points and assist readers’ understanding. The book also includes a CD containing a variety of helpful tools – meeting agendas, sample business plan, letters to clients – to help you get started.

The book is being distributed through Thomson Reuters. You can purchase the book via the Thomson Reuters website. Just click on the "Purchase Now" button which appears on this page. 

There is also a separate button "Chartered Accountants" provided for members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, who are entitled to a 20% discount on purchase. When you click on this link you will be directed to the ICAA website, where you will be asked to enter your membership details. Once this has been done, you will then automatically go to the page on the ICAA website to order, taking into account your discount.


Now on the recommended reading list for the Public Practice Certificate Course conducted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia.

  • Readers' Comments [+]
    “A timely and insightful read that will help accountants focus on a broader range of client needs. The views on Collaborating with Financial Planners to service those needs was particularly useful.”
    Raul Valois, Partner with Rosenfeld Kant & Co, Chartered Accountants
    Scott, wanted to let you know that I’ve just got your book and am loving it. Some really good ideas in there – and I intend to start implementing with the Accounting firm (I am leasing space from) soon. Congratulations - really insightful stuff.

    Reuben Zelwer Director and Adviser, Adapt Wealth Management

    “I would recommend that anyone seriously interested in forging a referral arrangement with an accountant takes a read... In explaining to the accountant the benefit of such an arrangement and explaining to them the ways in which they can overcome their concerns, we as Financial Planners are given some extremely useful insights in to what is important to the accountant and why, when considering a referral arrangement/agreement.”

    Phill Hines, Director and Adviser with Fintuition Pty Ltd.

    "Accountants are often attracted to the proposition of including financial planning in their practices but have no idea or the wrong ideas of how to go about it. ‘Partnering with Financial Planners' and in particular the accompanying toolkit provides accountants with many of the answers."

    Mark Ambrose, Director and Adviser with Planning Forward

    Hi Scott. I did the Chartered Accountants "Public Practice Certificate Course" a few weeks ago and loved  the case study based on "A stranger in the office next door", which I note featured in your book (which I purchased 6 months ago). 
    Scott Kay, Chartered Accountant
  • What to do after reading 'Partnering with Financial Planners' [+]

    It is to be expected that you will be inspired to take action after reading Partnering with Financial Planners. Regardless of how you look at it, financial services will influence your accounting firm. For some this will mean opportunity, particulalry those who choose to become fully or partially qualified to advise in this area. Sadly for those who take no action, there is a danger that increasingly the world will pass them by.

    Exactly what that action will/should be is largely dependent upon your circumstances. However, notwithstanding the truth in that statement, it would be valuable to re-visit the vision of your firm and your client value proposition (Chapter 4). It is here that you will be establishing the parameters by which all decisions should be made.

    It is likely you will have a range of specific issues that you also will want to work through. You will find the book's table of contents a ready reference for identifying these issues, be they related to interacting with financial planners; bringing financial planning in-house; launching financial services to clients or how to leverage these services to provide more opportunities with respect to your core accounting business.

    As you will appreciate from reading it, the book is also be a great way of identifying the decisions that need to be made with respect to whether or not you formalise referral arrangements. 

    Also, bringing your team up to speed with the latest FOFA changes (for which the finer details are not yet forthcoming) is highly recommended.

  • Q&A with the author [+]

    What's the reason for writing the book?

    Throughout the past 10 years that I have been coaching professional service firms I have frequently encountered accountants and financial planners who have had bad experiences in collaborating. The patterns of what occurred began to become very familiar. I began to feel very frustrated because most of what was occurring in my view was entirely preventable. I used to think “If only I could have been there, this might have turned out much better.”

    Then in 2011, I wrote an article entitled “A stranger in the office next door” which described a common set of circumstances, being an accounting firm employing a financial planner. In the article I dissected the causes of failure from three perspectives –planner, accountants and observer. This was a defining moment because not only did the article demonstrate how this situation arose but it clarified in my mind what I could do to assist. The feedback I received from that article was very encouraging.

    Ultimately it was only through the leverage a book provides that I could be present at every collaboration. From the experience of writing an earlier book I was also aware that the process of writing helps one to confirm and expand upon previously held views plus explore other areas more deeply. Even as I got into mapping out the project I could see there were many topics which needed to be covered in order to capture the complete story. Having been an accountant in practice then worked with financial planners I knew that I was uniquely placed to write about the situation.

    Through the book I hope that clients of both accountants and planners will benefit as a result of their financial advisers working closely together.

    What response have you had to date from practitioners?

    I have been very encouraged by the reaction received as I have been writing the book, which has built on the feedback from the article “A stranger in the office next door”. Many accountants and indeed, financial planners, have expressed interest in reading it.


    How long did it take you to write it?

    It was all done from start to finish in just over four months and this whilst holding down my “day job” at Fortnum Financial Advisers. This was less than a quarter of the time it took me to write my previous book. It’s been very intense but worth the effort. With the current legislative environment changing just as I was completing the book it was clearly a good time to be releasing a guide for accountants. Hopefully this will give accountants a road map to follow.

    What plans do you have for the book?

    I’d like to put it in the hands of as many accounting firms as possible. In this regard I am pleased with the arrangements that I have struck with both Thomson Reuters and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia which will provide a substantial pool of firms. I would also like to enlist other organisations which service the accounting profession here in Australia and in other countries.

    The book has been purposely written to be relevant to accountants outside Australia so I hope that it will gain traction worldwide.

    I am also hard at work on a companion book entitled Partnering with Accountants. It is being written for financial planners (and other professionals seeking to work more closely with accountants). Essentially, it presents a “mirror image” of the current book, telling other professionals about how best to collaborate with accountants. I expect that there will be many planners who read their book and subsequently gift this book to the accountants they want to work with.

    Why are financial planners buying the book?

    There are some important reasons for why financial planners should read this book. Firstly, planners absolutely recognise the importance of working with accountants to the benefit of their end clients. It's so much easier and more productive if the planner is on "the same page" as a client's accountant. This book gives powerful insights into accountants' concerns and issues that will considerably increase a planner's knowledge of how best to collaborate.

    Secondly, the book will be a wonderful conversation starter for a planner in getting to know an accountant. My expectation is that numerous planners will buy the book as a gift for accountants they would like to work with. So much the better if the book is helpfully tagged with yellow-sticky paper and/or flagged with blue highlighter on the relevant sections!

    How do I buy the book?

    The book is being distributed through Thomson Reuters. Follow the link from this website to Thomson Reuters.

    Is there an electronic version of the book?


    Alas, not at this stage. I am largely in the hands of Thomson Reuters with respect to when/if this is to happen.

  • Book Reviews [+]
    (As appears in the March 2013 edition of "Charter", the journal of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.)
    Most accounting firms believe that they should offer financial planning services, but are uncertain about how to do so. Scott Charlton’s latest book critically and practically examines the options, from an informal referral arrangement with an arm’s length financial planner to an integrated division within the practice. The author, who is chartered accountant, does not shy away from outlining his views about what is likely to work (and not work). Importantly, Scott is open about the negative consequences of partnering with a financial planner whose professional culture and ethics are not aligned with the accounting firm. If you are reviewing your options, this book (which includes a CD toolkit with pro-forma documents) is highly recommended reading.   

    Robert M.C. Brown, B.Ec., FCA

    I can thoroughly recommend Scott Charlton's book 'Partnering with Financial Planners - A guide to growth for accounting firms'. It is not only a comprehensive guide on how to do this but it is easy to read with loads of practical tips and case studies.
    I am an accountant and financial planner. I also have an accounting practice that, together with my business partners, I have been building into a multi disciplinary financial services business for 14 years. I could not only relate to Scott's recommendations but I wished I had the book earlier in my journey. I am sure I would have saved lots of time and frustration.  I certainly will be reviewing our business processes after reading this book.

    I also appreciated Scott's understanding from his extensive experience the challenges for both accountants and financial planners when they undertake this business decision.
    Scott also clearly reiterated the most important reason why accountants need to consider implementing this decision which is that client's need both accountants and financial planners to ensure they have their financial affairs adequately looked after.
    Denise Gibbons – Founding Director Integrity Wealth Group

1. The most value that gets added to a professional services firm is when the owner is “In the Zone”. What a shame so little time is invested there.
2. The more days you as a major revenue earner of the firm invest with clients the more revenue the firm will earn.

3. You can't be in the sweet spot by trying to be all things to all comers. Focus on work you enjoy and are good at.

4. Don't try to be something you're not. For example, if keeping up to date with the latest tax changes is crushingly onerous or incredibly tedious then don’t masquerade as a taxation specialist.

5. Get real – do you have genuine management talent or would you be happier and more productive working with clients?

6. Let go. Jot down six tasks/professional responsibilities that you don’t enjoy. Come up with a plan to minimise your involvement with these areas and yet still get the job done. Better yet, find ways to engineer these out of your life. Do this today and repeat at regular intervals.

7. Specialise. Find a service niche which enables you to work more and more in areas that fascinate you. Aim to be the best in the world in this niche. Seek out other experts in this field. Subscribe and contribute to relevant publications focusing on this area.

8. Be passionate. It’s great to be really enthused about a subject. For some, this has proved to be a lifelong cause. Your passion will attract others and sustain you.

9. Articulate. Tell others about your talent. There are lots of great ways to do this - presentations, websites, blogs, articles, newsletters, e-mail, personal referral, business networks etc.

10. Look for opportunities to utilise your skills. Interestingly, the more you focus on developing your professional interests, the more opportunities open up to you in these areas.

11. Delegate, delegate, delegate. Work with others who have complementary talents to your own. This will enable you to focus on what you are good at. 

12. Become more effective. Find ways to get more done in less time. The more you can achieve whilst you are "in the zone", the more discretionary time you will have.


13. People who are physically fit create a much better first impression. Prospects become clients, candidates become team members and audiences pay more attention when you exude the Zing! which comes from feeling terrific.

14. Periodically review your career, present role and current level of satisfaction. Are you on track or is action required?

15. Rarely are there winners in deteriorating partnership dissolutions. Cut the best deal possible under the circumstances quickly, gather up every bit of positive energy you can muster and move on. 

16. It’s hard to be in the right professional headspace if your personal financial affairs are in a mess.

17. No one else has your unique combination of core purpose, skills and experiences. No one else is responsible for what you to choose to do with these. No one else is putting limitations on what you can achieve.

18. It's easier to maintain your current level of fitness than to regain it after a period of inactivity. Aim to do something active every day.

©Scott Charlton 2014
PO Box 6020 | Fairfield Gardens QLD 4103