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State of The Firm 2018

Every January we sit down to review where we are as a firm, what happened over the past year and to set goals for the upcoming year. We wanted to put this in writing to share with everyone who makes our firm a success. We couldn't do what we do without each and every person reading this and we appreciate your support. Please let us know if there is anything you'd like to see from us in the new year or some way that we can better serve you.

What Happened in 2017?

  1. Lyle and Chris Develop a Succession Plan
    • While Lyle has no plans to retire anytime in the near future, he does want to be sure the firm is positioned to succeed well into the future. He and Chris have had regular discussions about the strategic direction of the firm in recent years and also about Chris buying into the firm, becoming an equity partner and eventually taking over the day to day management of the firm. In 2017 they took steps to formalize this plan and Chris is now a shareholder in the firm, something Lyle wrote more about in this post.
  2. Renovations ALWAYS Take Longer Than Expected
    • Last December we agreed to take on additional space in our building and to renovate our existing space. While those renovations weren't completed until this year, we are very happy with the end result. The new space is brighter and more open and our new kitchen is a significant upgrade. If you have not yet seen our updated space we encourage you to stop by for a visit!
  3. New Software Brings New Opportunities AND Challenges!
    • A couple years ago our tax practice upgraded to a new cloud-based version of our desktop software and it was a major challenge for everyone on our tax team. We knew that implementing a new portfolio management software would bring a similar challenge but we also knew the benefits for our clients outweighed the challenge. Kelly has taken the lead on implementing this new software and has worked with all of our investment clients to get everyone's accounts set up in the system. She also worked with the new software development team to get 20+ years of performance data into the new system, which has proven to be no easy task! Please bear with us as we continue to refine this process into the new year - we promise it will be worth it in the end! 
  4. Two Employees "Graduate"
    • Keon Webb grew into a tax preparer role in his second tax season with the firm and learned to prepare small to mid sized returns for us. He moved on to SC&H after graduating from Stevenson University in June and is excelling there. He just passed the first section of the CPA exam, and was quick to share the good news with us. We wish him all the best in his future.
    • Rachel Schaeffer started with us during tax season as a Sophomore with no tax background. She proved to be an incredibly quick learner and streamlined the front end of our tax return preparation process. After tax season she worked on preparation of some extended returns, assisted in data entry on all our financial planning projects and prepared detailed investment analysis, among many other projects. She accepted a position with a larger firm for the upcoming tax season but stayed on through December to train our newest intern, who will start in January. We also wish Rachel nothing but success in her new position.
  5. New Employees Hired for 2018
    • We spent a significant amount of time in November and December interviewing people to join our team for 2018. We have confirmed the hiring of two new interns for the 2018 tax season and will formally introduce them to you in our next monthly newsletter. We are also still actively seeking a part-time tax preparer with experience to help us get through our busy times on the tax side of the practice and hope to find someone soon.
  6. Tax Reform Makes For a Busy December!
    • By now we are used to Congress making our Decembers interesting as they are typically waiting until the last minute to pass extender bills and other tax legislation. This year they took it one step further by signing into law a massive tax reform bill the week before Christmas. We sent out many updates as the bill evolved to all of our clients and attempted to reach out individually to nearly all our clients who we thought might benefit from year-end tax moves. We prepared many tax projections and helped many clients make some tax-efficient moves before the new law goes into effect in 2018. There is much work to be done in this area and we will continue to work with all our clients as we continue to dig into the new rules and their impact on our clients' financial situation.

What's Next in 2018?

  1. Improve the client experience
    • While we feel we already offer excellent client service, we know that we can always improve and we strive to do that every year. Clients are at the center of our business so we are constantly thinking of ways we can improve your experience working with us. From new technology to more standardized processes, we will continue to work on all areas of the client experience and would love to hear your feedback on how we can improve.
  2. Refine and improve our standard business processes
    • As we continue to grow the firm and add team members, we have also been working to standardize our processes and procedures to make sure each of our clients are provided the same excellent level of service. We pride ourselves on our highly personalized service and we need to make sure that as we grow we put in place a structure that will allow us to be efficient while maintaining a great client experience.
  3. Develop a new portfolio review process.
    • Our new portfolio management software will allow us to significantly improve our performance reporting process for investment management clients. What used to be a quarterly, semi-annual or annual report sent through the mail can now become an interactive live report available any time of day anywhere in the world. We are still working through what this process will look like and we welcome any feedback.
  4. Stay on the cutting edge of tax, financial planning and investment strategies.
    • In addition to our regular continuing education responsibilities as CPA's, Lyle and Chris continue to take leadership roles in the profession. Lyle will Chair the AICPA Personal Financial Planning Summit again in January and continues to lead the Athena Study Group. Chris has assumed leadership of the MACPA Personal Financial Planning Committee and continues to lead the AICPA efforts for the next generation of CPA financial planners.
  5. Grow the firm by adding new clients who are the right fit for the firm.
    • Our ideal client comes to us because they have a variety of financial needs and they want someone with technical expertise who can provide objective advice. We believe having a solid financial plan in place is the key starting point to answering all of someone's financial questions. Our focus is on helping clients weave together all the interrelated aspects of their finances, from taxes to investments to estate planning and everything in between.
  6. Find new team members.
    • Due to the seasonal nature of our tax practice we are always struggling with our staffing needs, particularly during the very busy February-April time period. While we have been able to fill this gap with interns and some seasonal staff in the past, we are actively seeking a full-time employee who would be able to help us in the tax practice and in our growing financial planning and wealth management practice. We have been interviewing candidates and will continue to do so throughout 2018.

The views expressed represent the opinions of L.K. Benson & Company and are subject to change.  These views are not intended as a forecast, a guarantee of future results, investment recommendation, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. The information provided is of a general nature and should not be construed as investment advice or to provide any investment, tax, financial or legal advice or service to any person.Please see Additional Disclosures more information.