Millennials are changing our tax practices. Here's how

June 25, 2019

By Kristen L. Pilchard and Michael V. Ohanesian at AICPA Insights on June 24, 2019

Millennials are everywhere.

As the largest generation of Americans ever, they seem to be changing every aspect of our society. They’re influencing marketing trends, technological advancements, politics, travel, food — there’s little that isn’t affected by this generation’s unique way of doing things.

They are affecting your tax firm too — even if you don’t realize it yet.

Millennial tax clients are few and far between for most of us. Generally, their taxes aren’t yet complex enough to warrant our services. But as this age group acquires wealth, we’ll begin to see more and more of them walking through our doors.

So it’s crucial we’re thinking about how to adapt our unique way of doing things to meet theirs.

Here’s how the millennial generation is already changing our image of the typical tax client and how you can prepare your firm to advise them.

It all starts with technology.

Millennials are technologically-oriented. Born between 1981 and 1996, this generation saw the introduction of personal computers into private homes. They witnessed the birth of widespread internet and mobile phone use. They were some of the first to engage in e-commerce and social media. Their entire way of life is framed and filtered by the technological advances of the last 40 years.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that this appreciation of technology would influence their interactions with their CPAs. But for some CPAs, this is a tough adjustment.

Some of us rely on tried and true tax preparation and communications methods to do our jobs. We mail out paper engagement letters and organizers. We sit down to face-to-face meetings with clients. We still use fax machines! But millennials are interested in high-tech, paperless and sustainable options when engaging with their CPAs.

So how do we adapt? We use the technologies they’re using to deepen our relationships with them. We introduce paperless options — like electronic organizers and PDF copies of returns — to our practices. We use electronic signatures, client portals, secure mobile apps and virtual meeting platforms. We start texting! We equip ourselves with new tools and get on board with a different way of doing things.  

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