Guest blog from a financial professional

 

 

Three  Reasons Why You Should Have Already talked to your Accountant this Year

 

As the days grow shorter, temperature cools and leaves start to change – it’s easy to forget about the importance of talking with your accountant about 2018’s potential tax bill.  Let’s be honest, talking with your accountant does not usually rise to the top of your list.  However, as I have found through personal experience, you need to chat with your accountant regularly and early in the year.  If you haven’t spoken yet with them yet, please read my three reasons why you need to setup a meeting now!

 

My Experience

In early 2015 as I entered into the first full year of helping my wife manage her dental practice –  I asked my accoutnant when we would be meeting to talk about tax strategies   Their response was “we don’t usually discuss those things until late November or most likely in December?”

When I discussed this with our financial adviser,  he immediately referred me to a new accountant!

The Result

I met with the new accountant and was so impressed I decided to move my business to them right away.   Soon after, we reviewed numbers, the accountant created projections of our tax liability and helped us create strategies to minimize our burden. Luckily, we were at a point in the year where we could still make relatively easy changes to payroll deductions, 401(k) and HSA contributions, capital purchases, etc.

 

Here are three keys to managing your accountant and approach to taxes:

 

#1 – Your Advisors Work for You

If your advisor is not giving you what you need, then why keep them?  Breaking off relationships, even business ones, can be very uneasy.  Since many dentists are juggling so many aspects of owning a practice,  – it’s important  to get the answers you need when you need them.  Thankfully, I had a financial advisor who encouraged me to make a change to our support team!

 

#2 Build a Team that Works Together

Whether this means taking your advisors up on their referrals or interviewing them beforehand and asking of their willingness and ability to work with others that you may hire – having a team is key.  Team members should obviously be an accountant and a financial advisor, but may also include a lawyer, and insurance agent, and maybe even a banker.  My financial advisor is known to have follow-up conversations with my accountant on my behalf, and then report back on the high points of their discussion.  Think of it as interdisciplinary care for your finances.

 

#3 – Good Decisions are Never Made in a Time Crunch

There is a great video I saw on LinkedIn post showing someone drawing over the course of 10 seconds, 1 minute, and 10 minutes.  The point of the post was to show how different a result you will get when you spend more time on a task.  Making decisions and moving money at the last minute is never ideal.  Just like  patients make far better decisions on their dentistry when they’re not burdened with a toothache, you will be way better off if you plan and revisit your financial goals throughout the year!

 

Next Steps

Now that you know the importance of planning for taxes, you need to act!

 

  • Assemble recent paychecks from you/your spouse
  • Collect statements on retirement, health savings accounts, mortgage
  • Collect statements from any investment accounts you may have
  • Estimate your year-end charity, mileage, or other deductions you may have
  • Produce a full P&L (Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Statement of Cash Flows) if you manage your own books.
  • Deliver everything to your accountant and request a meeting (ASAP)
  • Contact your financial advisor and see if they can attend as well

 

A little bit of planning will go a long way to minimizing your tax burden and maximizing your wealth

 

Happy planning!

 

 

Adam Heim is a life-long learner, enthusiastic supporter of small business and hopeful entrepreneur.  He has spent nearly a decade in banking and has a background in product pricing, commercial real estate, demographics and financial modeling.  Adam created FirstTimeDentist.com in response to his perceived ‘gap’ in quality information, when he assisted his wife buy her dental practice in 2014. 

 

How do you handle the complaining patient?

Curiosity and the Complaint

Sally has been a patient for over 15 years. Her visits to us have been successful, productive, and delightful. We are very fond of each other.

At her last visit, with no warning, Sally laced into me, saying that I had deliberately placed a defective piece of dentistry that’s been trapping food for the last 6 months. She went on to say that I must have thought that she wasn’t going to live much longer and it didn’t matter to me that she had a problem.

Now if that doesn’t get your heart racing and activate your fight- or- flight reaction, nothing will!

I took a deep breath and coolly asked Sally to allow me to see the problem determine its cause. I discovered that Sally had fractured some porcelain off a screw retained crown over an implant which we had done for her a few years ago. Very calmly (and, of course, without reminding her that I had expressed concern about her bruxism several times in the past), I assured Sally that I can easily correct the problem. “I don’t want to go through any more drilling!”, Sally said belligerently, “and all this will be at YOUR expense!” Nonchalantly (while my insides quietly boiled) I assured her that there will neither be any drilling nor cost to her.

I realized that Sally’s confrontation was a professional make-or-break moment for us and had to be resolved. Here’s what I did:

I removed Sally’s crown, sent it to my lab for repair, and re-inserted it. Over the two appointments, I focused on the task at hand and maintained our usual connectedness. Once the crown was re-inserted, I asked Sally to come into my office for a few minutes. With body language, facial expression and vocal tone that expressed concern and curiosity, I asked Sally whether I was correct in my having heard her assertion that I intentionally placed a bad piece of dentistry in her mouth. Sally quickly responded “yes, that’s what I thought, but then I realized that, although you are a professional, you are also human. “I thanked Sally, but I went a bit further and asked, “You know, we’ve been through so much and accomplished a lot together. I’m wondering if anything else was troubling you a few weeks ago, because the comment didn’t seem to be consistent with what we really think about each other”.  Sally quickly warmed up, we had a lovely talk, and we ended with a hug.

In Conversational Intelligence, author Judith Glazer discusses neurochemical changes that occur during confrontation, which lead our minds to a defensive, fearful mode. In a dental situation, this is a recipe for disaster. The patient accuses, the dentist either gets overly defensive or needlessly appeasing, and the result is a winner and a loser, with one or both parties feeling badly about themselves and the practice.

The best antidote to this state of fear is trust. When someone shows us empathy, our brain chemistry changes, bringing connectedness, composure and constructive thought. My intentional actions and verbiage changing the nature of our discussion from You vs me into we transformed potential disaster into a strengthened relationship.

 

Closing thoughts:

1- If Sally had maintained an air of distrust and hostility, I was prepared to very compassionately tell her that perhaps I am no longer the right dentist for her.

2- Shortly after this episode, Sally lost a very close relative, devastating her and her family. Events leading up to this tragedy could very well have been what was causing Sally to have acted so strangely

 

3- Although no technique of communication will work 100% of the time, always act with kindness, empathy, and curiosity. Bond with people in your life in good and challenging times. Everyone is going through something. You have the power to heal. Use it well and use it often.