Should a Certified Public Accountant Do Your Financial Planning?

If your accountant tries to sell you on financial planning services, here's how to tell if it's a good fit.

Young couple looking at document with a financial adviser

If you need to hire an accountant, you may need to hire an advisor.

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[Read: A Guide to Financial Advisor Fee Structures.]

Despite their best intentions, many accounting firms may not have enough staff to dedicate to personal financial planning, says Marc Rosenberg, managing partner of The Rosenberg Associates Ltd. in Wilmette, Ill., a consulting firm that advises CPA firms. The profession is experiencing a talent crunch, he explains, and many CPA firms can’t hire enough accountants, let alone financial planners. 

In his opinion, the best bet is a CPA firm with a stand-alone staff of financial planners. If your accounting firm doesn’t offer that? “It could be a clue that you need a bigger firm,” Rosenberg says.

Finally, don’t forget that referrals work both ways. Just as your CPA can refer you to a financial planner, your certified financial planner can almost certainly refer you to a certified public accountant. 

Corrected on April 4, 2014: A previous version of this story attributed the wrong professional designation to tests administered by the Certified Financial Planner Board.