Eight Ways To Streamline Client Tax Prep
Some advisors thrive in tax season, others dread it. Either way, the period from January to April is one of the busiest for Hubly users. Here are eight tips for making it a little more seamless.
8. Identify bottlenecks
It might sound counterintuitive, but the busy season is actually one of the best times to identify bottlenecks in your business. When things are at their busiest, you can more easily get a sense of which processes are slowing you down, and where you should look to remove bottlenecks.
This can be as easy as being mindful of what’s taking up most of your time. Or, if you want to go a step further, you can download a time-tracking app like Toggl and manually record how you’re spending your time throughout the day.
7. Automate and delegate
Once you’ve identified your bottlenecks, you can start fixing them. This might mean freeing up resources (human or otherwise) to dedicate to your most time-consuming tasks; it could also mean looking to automation to take things like data entry and document prep off your plate.
If you run a lean operation, one solution might be to use a virtual assistant. Many VAs offer most of the perks of a full-time assistant for just a few bucks an hour, and can handle things like email, social media and invoicing — freeing you up to focus your expertise on client service.
6. Put yourself in your clients' shoes
If you’re having trouble coming up with ways to automate your workflows or streamline your processes, take a step back and put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Try to visualize their experience working with your firm through the tax season:
- Has it been smooth so far?
- Have you had to reach out to them frequently?
- What style of communication do you typically use?
- What types of topics are you typically covering?
Thinking about your business from your customer's point of view is a useful strategy to shift your perspective and find new ways to improve.
5. Update your tech stack
Aside from Hubly, of course, there are a lot of exciting developments in the world of advisortech that can help with tax prep. New tools are being developed all the time, and if you’re not staying on top of the latest developments in the ecosystem, you may be missing out on opportunities to streamline your operations.
Make a point to scan through Top 10 lists and blogs to see what tools other people are using. Some resources we like are Michael Kitces’ Financial Advisor Tech Map and Nerd’s Eye View, as well as Bob Veres’ Inside Information.
4. Leverage generative ai
If you’re looking at new advisortech, you can’t go far without hearing about AI. While you’re probably right to be skeptical about new-to-market solutions that brag about their amazing AI capabilities, there are tools available — many of them free — that can help you leverage things like Chat CPT to streamline tax prep.
For example, consider downloading the ChatGTP extension for Google Docs or Sheets if you use those tools. You’ll then be able to use AI directly within those apps for things like writing, editing, extracting, cleaning, translating, summarizing, outlining, explaining and more.
3. Set up smarter reminders
As you’re monitoring and assessing your processes, you may find yourself doing the same task over and over again. For example, if you try to reach a client and they don’t answer then there’s a good chance that you’ll have to set a reminder to try and reach that client again. Needless to say, this can result in you setting dozens of reminders throughout the week, and an increased risk of things falling through the cracks.
One solution would be to set up “Smart Reminders” — in your calendar, in your CRM or using a process management tool like Hubly — that will automatically generate another reminder if a task isn’t completed. Here’s an example of how we do it.
2. Lean on your back office
When you own your own practice, it can be tempting to try and do everything yourself. After all, how would anyone know how to run your practice better than you? While this might be true, doing everything yourself is a recipe for burning out — ideally, you should be working ON your business, not IN it.
Instead of trying to handle everything yourself, go out of your way to lean on your back office. Be clear about what their responsibilities are, give them tools and decision-making ability, and empower them to be accountable for their decisions.
1. Work with workflows
One way to take your tax organizer to the next level is to use it as a template for tracking each client’s progress. We recommend setting up a series of checkpoints and crossing them off as you handle tax preparation for each client. Keeping this information in a shared, centralized location will allow anyone on your team to easily know where each client stands in the process, and foster that back office collaboration we mentioned above.
Again, you can do this manually, via Sheets or shared docs, or you can automate it with Hubly. You can check out the webinar we hosted about this very topic here.