Patrick: Welcome to the Business Spotlight. I’m Patrick Dougher. We have a great show. My guest today is Jeff Pickering. Not only is he my own personal CPA; he also has a Masters in Taxation and we’ve done work in the past together on radio. I’ve known him for a number of years.
I highly, highly recommend you stick around because in this show we’re going to be talking about current taxes and the things that you can begin to watch out for. If you’re a business owner, you’ll want to hang out. Thanks so much, Jeff, for being on the show.
Jeff: Thanks for having me, Pat.
Patrick: I jokingly talked about the radio thing. We have to go on our radio voice on occasion.
Jeff: No different voice. It’s all one voice.
Patrick: I want to get into your story. We’ve done a lot of things in the past together, but our audience obviously doesn’t know. Tell me your story. How did you get to where you’re at?
Jeff: Actually, I started off in college as a Music major at North Texas. After a while, I noticed that a lot of the musicians had a hard time supporting their family. So I got my undergrad in Music and then I got a Masters in Taxation. I thought it will be a great way to support a family, and I find that I actually get to help a lot of people too. It’s a great feeling.
Patrick: I believe that. I know that one of the things that was a lot of fun was listening to you answer questions on the air when we were on KLIF in the local area. That was a lot of fun. When you look at some of the things that you’re doing for your clients, right now we’ve got major tax changes. What are some of the things that you’re doing that’s a little different than maybe some of the other CPAs?
Jeff: The main thing that I like to think that I do different is plan way ahead. I know the last time we had these rates, it was around the Clinton era, and we saw how tax people responded to that. They came up with new products, some of them strategies that didn’t work in the courts, some shelters that didn’t work. We’re looking ahead and we’re looking at broad strategies to help people keep more money for themselves.
Frankly, with these rates going up, it’s going to make more sense for some people to start into businesses because it’s going to give them a greater incentive to get into business and take a risk because they can either give their money to Uncle Sam or reinvest it in themselves. We’ll see more businesses being started in this period.
Patrick: Is that something that you would recommend that people do – get into business for themselves? What are two or three things that you are really encouraging your clients to move towards?
Jeff: Whether somebody gets into a business, it’s very personal. It’s a personal decision. I know there are some people out there who should definitely not be in business. They want to get a paycheck. But I can tell you that the kind of person that should be in business is a person that wants options, a person that likes to be in control a little bit more. We all know that the more options you have, the better off you’re able to survive the changing economy. That’s the kind of person that I would recommend to start a business.
Patrick: In your business, about 80% of your practice is referral. But how much of your practice is entrepreneurs and company owners?
Jeff: Revenue-wise, it’s about 50% entrepreneurs and companies, and the other 50% individuals. I probably helped start about 50 businesses last year and that’s about what I do every year. People come to me if they want to start a business and we give them some free consulting. Last year, in the Dallas Fast 100 – it’s an awards show put on by the Cox School of Business for the fastest growing businesses in the DFW Area – I had three clients in that awards ceremony.
Patrick: That’s really nice.
Jeff: Yeah. I was actually invited by one of my clients to sit in their section. I met my other two clients there too – the fastest growing businesses. I was probably the only CPA with three businesses there. I like to see our clients grow.
Patrick: I wouldn’t doubt. If you were to talk to some entrepreneurs – because in the Business Spotlight, our audience is going to be business owners, solopreneurs, and C-level managers that make decisions – what would you encourage them to really make sure that they’re taking care of right now?
Jeff: You can do things immediately with the things that are in front of you. You can focus on what’s right in front of you. But the trick is to focus on things in the future. Right now, of course, you have deadlines and you have tax stuff. Most of what we’re doing right now for our clients is just reporting what we had already planned and some of the stuff was planned two or three years ago. We’re just putting all the pieces in place for stuff that was already planned. It’s easy to sit there and react, but the best thing you can do is to not react and to look ahead and to try to plan for the future.
Patrick: I know that’s going to be a real adventure as we look forward. Our government has basically doubled its – what I call – sales force for taxation. In other words, the IRS has hired a lot more people.
Jeff Pickering has some great answers to help you stay out of the dog house with the government. This is the Business Spotlight. You’ll want to hang out for the rest of this.
Patrick: Welcome back to the Business Spotlight. My guest today is Jeff Pickering, Masters in Taxation, www.PickeringCPA.com. He’s been a good friend of mine. He’s done my taxes for a number of years. I have to tell you, I’m thrilled to have him on the show. Jeff, thanks for being with us.
Jeff: Thanks again, Pat. It’s a pleasure.
Patrick: What’s really fun is that you are kind of a Buckaroo Banzai. Is it an oxymoron or a paradox? One world is you’re a no-risk CPA but you’re also a jazz musician.
Jeff: That’s right. Whenever they let me out of the house, I get to play jazz. I play upright bass and I have a lot of fun improvising. I’ve always believed that the ability to improvise somehow helps my tax mind. I don’t know exactly what the connection is. I’m sure somebody would like to do a study about that somewhere, but I really feel it helps me.
Patrick: I want to get into some of the other things that you guys are doing. You do so many things like corporate taxation and individual tax preparation. You already said 50/50 corporate to personal. Yet 80% of your business comes in from referrals. So you’re obviously doing a lot of things right.
Jeff: Yes. Our clients continue to grow. Every year, we experience a lot of growth. There are ten of us now and we keep growing. I’m happy to give people clients. I’m happy to give them service and they keep liking it, so that’s how we’re growing.
Patrick: That is outstanding. Marc Harty, thank you so much for being on the show again.
Marc: It’s good to be here.
Patrick: It’s always good to have you because you’re the PR specialist. You’re the guy that knows how to get the attention of the rest of the universe.
Marc: Jeff, listening to that earlier segment, my ears perked up on one particular topic. I have a burning question and here it is. You mentioned that your accounting firm – your CPA firm – had worked on three companies that were in the Dallas Fast 100.
Jeff: Yes, that’s right.
Marc: My burning question is how did you let the world know about that? Or have you?
Jeff: I haven’t. You got me, Marc. The only time I actually let people know that is if I have a client that’s in the same kinds of businesses that those people are in, I try to put their minds at ease that hey, I’m not a risk as far as that goes.
Marc: My first reaction when I heard that is I look at how many CPAs, accountants, and bookkeepers are in this area. We’re in one of the largest cities in the U.S. and to have that distinction is very impressive.
I like to refer to the four Rs that any business needs to be successful. One of them – and probably the number one – is reputation. You can participate in what’s known as the “halo effect” because your business is now associated with a business that a third party has recognized as being successful.
One suggestion I would make is, if nothing else, add a new section on your website because these are the things that really, as you said, on a one-on-one setting make it easier for somebody to choose to hire you. But now people that come to your website, you can immediately establish that credibility.
Jeff: Great. That’s a good point. I’ll take your advice, Marc.
Patrick: One of the other things is now that we’re in Houston as well. We’ve got Dallas and Fort Worth, Houston area on the show at every week. It’s really great there. Then we put out in the Internet. Are there any other things that Jeff can do?
Marc: I mentioned the two Rs. One is reputation; the other is reach. Part of the show, what we like to do before we have a guest on is we do our online intelligence. We Google you and we look for things, we look for trends, we look for opportunities. One of the things we like to add value for our guest is underappreciated assets or under optimized assets.
One thing that I saw is you have some reviews – positive reviews – but not all reviews are created equal. In fact, there are some reviews that are more positive for Google. I noticed that if you search for the term “Dallas CPA,” the number one person that comes up only has five Google reviews. I’ve seen some companies that have as many as 50. With a little due diligence, you could actually come up in the rankings and really broaden your reach in terms of the type of people that are looking for the type of service that you provide.
Jeff: That’s also a good point. I actually don’t know much about this area myself. It’s funny, I’m a business person but accountants on a whole are kind of slow to adopt. I’m guilty of that sin.
Marc: This isn’t about showing what you haven’t done. We’re also talking about what you have done. The most important thing is you have a foundation and you have these things, you have these relationships, and you have credibility. One of the things we’re going to be talking about in the next segment is your radio show, how you can leverage that to again build your authority.
I’ve dealt with clients where we were really starting from nothing. And you have those assets. It’s just a matter of optimizing them.
Patrick: That is really great. We’re talking with Jeff Pickering. He’s done radio; he’s a CPA in the DFW Area. If you’re in Houston, you can call him up. His information is on the screen.
This is the Business Spotlight where Jeff Pickering is telling his story today and so can you. We’ll be right back.
Patrick: Welcome back to the Business Spotlight. I’m Patrick Dougher. My guest today is Jeff Pickering, www.PickeringCPA.com, DFW Area, CPA with a Masters in Taxation. Jeff and I have a long history. We’ve done radio together on a terrestrial radio station here at KLIF in the DFW Area. But if you’re out of the area, you’ll want to connect to Jeff because he really knows his stuff. Jeff, thanks for being on the show.
Jeff: Thanks, Pat. It’s nice to be here. It’s my first experience doing this kind of thing. It’s different than a radio.
Patrick: Yeah. We don’t have to hide our voice. We can actually talk normal.
Jeff: That’s right. But we do have to dress up.
Patrick: Yeah. They told me I had a face for radio and I said “I’m going to do it anyway.” The big thing is that during this segment, we’re talking about who’s your ideal client. Because 80% of your clients come from referrals, how can you use social media? Kathy, thanks so much for being on the show.
Kathy: Sure, thank you.
Patrick: Kathy Brandon will be talking about how you can amp up your social media and get even more impacts. So, who is your ideal client?
Jeff: My ideal client is usually a business owner. Not always, but it’s strange that the more money a person makes, the more I’m able to help them. There’s just some kind of proportional relationship. We’ve got a Facebook millionaire and we’re able to help him a lot as well, but generally business owners we help and people who are what I would call “wealthy.”
Patrick: Nice. I imagine probably a lot of financial planners like to connect to you.
Jeff: Yeah, they do. We don’t do any financial planning ourselves in our office, but we like to keep track of who’s who in the financial planning world and be able to refer out.
Patrick: I wouldn’t doubt that. In fact, I have a financial planner who’s been on the show that I’m going to introduce to you. Kathy, what can he be doing to amp up his social media?
Kathy: I love the story about you being a jazz musician. Social media can be really complex for people, especially for CPAs. You’re absolutely right: CPAs are a bit of late adopter.
Jeff: That’s us.
Kathy: You guys want to wait and let everybody else test stuff out. It’s not a bad way to be.
Jeff: In some ways, it’s not ideal always waiting for somebody else to be the pioneer. Sometimes you don’t reap the rewards.
Kathy: Sometimes it’s not bad. There are industries out there that are not CPAs that their job is to be the frontier. I like CPAs being a little bit more stable, so no problem there. Now what you can do is, because you have such a stellar reputation, because your clients are being cited as companies that grow, there are two things that I found that you can do immediately – as soon as you get back to your office. And you can actually have your staff do it. It’s not something that you have to do. There’s one for your staff and one for you.
The thing for your staff is your old radio shows. You can get those transcribed and you can immediately take those radio shows, get those transcribed and that’s immediately blog articles that you can push right out to your social media. That’s a really quick and easy project because you answered questions on the radio from guests. That is solving problems like people want, like consumers want. They want to go to your blog, they want to see your social media, they want you to solve problems.
The second thing that you can do is whenever you’re going to play jazz, post it on Facebook.
Jeff: Yeah, I should.
Kathy: Let us know where you’re going because we want to know the artistic side of our CPA. That makes you the more delicious.
Jeff: Why, thank you. As I said before, it’s something that actually I think helps me in my tax world. Maybe it’s a way of looking at something or being able to approach something in a different way.
Kathy: I think so. I know a lot of technical folks that also have an artistic side and it’s the same thing. It really helps them come back into such a structured environment and maybe have a new look at it. You’re probably an even better CPA because you have this artistic side of you.
Jeff: Let’s tell that to my wife so I get to play more.
Kathy: Tell her, “It’s marketing for my business. I have to go play.”
Patrick: Are there one or two little tips that you could throw out to try to make sure that the business owners are really tackling right now?
Jeff: We just had this fiscal cliff stuff. The stuff wasn’t actually signed until I think January 1st in the wee hours of the morning, so we’ve been dealing with two sets of rules. We need to take a look back at what you’ve done and see if any of the things you’ve done actually come into play with these new sets of rules.
One of the thing is there’s this 50% bonus. It was a big surprise for us. Some people are going to be able to take large advantages from this 50% bonus depreciation.
Patrick: When you say 50% bonus – just to clarify – they should connect to you if they want a clarification.
Jeff: Yeah. I don’t want to sit here and talk about details right now and lose everybody.
Patrick: No worries on that. As we come into this last segment of the show we’re going to talk more about how to connect to Jeff and then what the process is that he walks through with each of his clients to make sure that they’re taken care of.
In The Business Spotlight, I’m so thankful that we’re in Dallas/Fort Worth and in Houston and then we blasted out on the Internet. If you want to be on the show, you ought to call me.
Patrick: Welcome back to the Business Spotlight. My guest today is Jeff Pickering. Jeff Pickering is a CPA with a Masters in Taxation in the DFW Area. Jeff and I have known each other for a number of years. We have actually done radio together.
In this segment, Jeff, I want to talk about how somebody can connect to you and what the process is when you begin to welcome somebody as a new client.
Jeff: The best way is to call our office: (972) 378-5200. Also firstname.lastname@example.org is our main e-mail. For business owners, we give a free consultation. It lets us get to know each other, see if you like us, if we like you, if we want to do business together. That’s the best way to get things started.
Patrick: Every year you send me a questionnaire that kind of gets me organized – or at least my wife and I. She probably more than me. I’m a pretty disorganized one.
Jeff: Right. If you want a free organizer, we’ll send that to you as well. It helps people get organized as you said and it may keep you out of trouble.
Patrick: The shoe box is not the ideal method of delivery. We shouldn’t just bring all our stuff and go here.
Jeff: I’m not really tough on my clients. Some people do bring in shoe boxes; some bring in cartons of stuff. Just know that if you bring stuff in, we’re going to look at it. So no personal stuff that you don’t want us to see.
Patrick: I knew you’re going to go there. I would love to just tackle that but I’m not. I’m going to leave that alone.
Jeff: They bring in all kinds of things.
Patrick: I would not doubt at all. Because this is going to be out on the Internet and it’s going to be out for a long time, I want to really deliver some value – some keys. If somebody’s a business owner, this last year there were some changes.
Patrick: There are probably three or four things that you could tell somebody that will be high value that they better make sure that they have in place that they bring to you or to their CPA.
Jeff: Right. A couple changes, I mentioned in the last segment a little bit about bonus depreciation which is something to be aware that you may have had a bonus depreciation event so you got to review your stuff.
We have a couple of Obamacare taxes that are coming in and you really need to take a hard look at what’s going on in your tax situation to see if there’s a way to avoid those. There are some ways to avoid those. There’s the 3.8% Medicare tax and 0.9% additional Medicare contribution – as if it’s your choice. It’s not your choice.
Those taxes are increases. They actually were planned in 2010, but now Obamacare is a ticking time bomb of tax increases and one of the bombs has gone off this year, which is 2013.
Patrick: What about the estate tax? I know there was a transition. There was a change in the estate taxes. It used to be that anything over a quarter of a million, and then it was zero for ten years.
Jeff: Right. The biggest change that we see for estate taxes is the portability of the unified credit. That was a big relief to all the people in the estate tax area. Still, we see there may be a need for bypass trust for asset protection purposes. So for those of you who think you’re out of the woods for estate tax, you may want to take another look again.
Patrick: I imagine that’s a huge change with some of the things that are coming there. Forecast: you said you work with people for the next few years. Since you’ve seen this type of stuff before with the Clinton days, what are two or three things that they should be looking forward to planning for?
Jeff: The main thing is with these big tax rates, we’re going to see more scams, we’re going to see some tax shelters that are going to pass muster and we’re going to see some tax shelters that basically are just going to be disregarded and they’re not going to pass. The main thing you need is if you’re engaging in some of these transactions because tax rates are going up and everybody is trying to get an edge on the taxes, you need to have a second set of eyes to make sure you don’t get into something foolish. And if you’re getting into something, make sure you’re getting into something that’s going to pass muster.
Patrick: To me, it’s the old adage of “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” The hard part was I have friends that were bitten by things that pass the muster on the first run during the Clinton days, but then got shot in the head to the point that there was leverage taxation.
Patrick: Do you think that’s going to happen again?
Jeff: Probably. Congress tries to do things, but they forget big pieces of the tax code and then somebody will take what Congress says and twist it a little bit. That’s where people get in trouble. I’m sure that as long as we have congressmen, you’ll need some help trying to figure out what the heck they mean.
Patrick: Which sends people to you. How do they get a hold of you again?
Jeff: (972) 378-5200.
Patrick: That’s their phone. Just get them on the phone and get the ball rolling. Talk to them. If people are in Houston or other parts of the country, can they still use you?
Jeff: We have clients even from overseas.
Jeff: Yeah. I have clients in other countries that I actually haven’t met personally. I would like to someday. We can do a lot over the Internet. Some people actually come to us from other international websites on the Internet.
Patrick: I wouldn’t doubt that. I look at the reach of the Business Spotlight is now. It’s very much international. We’re covering about 50,000 video links. That’s how many we’ve got now. We got a big reach.
With that, if you’re a business owner and you want to get your message out, you should call me. You should talk to me. If you’re a business owner and you need your taxes done, you should call Jeff.
This is the Business Spotlight. We’ll see you next week. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel. We’ll talk to you all then. Thanks again.