Place Your Oxygen Mask on Before Helping Others

Young, carefree, lighthearted... these were the adjectives of your youth. But with back to school going on for many in these past weeks, you begin to wonder where all the time went and what are you going to do about the future. CPAs will advise their clients that a sound retirement plan is essential not only for their business but also themselves so why are not more CPAs taking their own advice? Clients look to CPAs to provide educated business advice beyond the numbers but how can a CPA firm recommend to clients the importance of tax credit for establishing a qualified retirement plan when they themselves fail to have one?

It is time for CPA firms to start taking their own advice! Continue to read below an excerpt from an open letter to AICPA members from Chair of the AICPA Firm-Based Retirement committee. This is a great start to learn more about investing in your own retirement while also benefiting your business and employees. The AICPA Retirement committee understands how CPA firms can lose themselves in the shuffle of helping their clients but much like putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others during airplane emergencies, it is imperative for CPA firms to take time to review their own firm’s retirement security.

Sometimes, with all the demands on time and priorities among CPA firms, the topic of retirement planning for partners and employees of the CPA firm can be overlooked. This letter serves to encourage firms to take a closer look at an extraordinary program created by the Member Retirement Committee — we believe it offers the flexibility to meet the needs of most firms and presents a significant value the firms may not be able to achieve on their own.

The Committee conducts member research annually to understand key retirement needs and ensure alignment with our program. In designing a program that encourages firms of all sizes to establish and maintain a competitive 401(k) program, the Committee, mindful of member feedback, has the following objectives in mind:

  • Encourage firms to “get in the game” by offering a retirement plan design with larger contributions than an IRA or SEP, while keeping control of employer contributions in line with the firm’s objectives for establishing a plan;
  • Enable firms to offer a wide range of investment lineups, ranging from a selection of pre-screened “core” funds to an open-architecture platform to allow firms to utilize the services of an independent investment professional in selecting among a large pool of funds;
  • Provide for ease of administration through a world-class payroll provider along with options for fully bundled administration and the use of an independent consultant;
  • Contain program pricing that can help fulfill the firm’s fiduciary obligations by keeping costs reasonable
  • Provide participant educational materials that both encourage saving through the 401(k) program and allow firms to take pride in offering a solid retirement program; and
  • Provide the flexibility to amend and adapt the plan, when desired, for sophisticated plan designs such as age-based or cross-testing profit sharing formulas.

To view the letter in its entirety please visit

As the Safe Harbor deadline approaches on October 1st, take this time to discuss retirement strategies with your clients. How are they planning to save?  Have they reviewed the different retirement strategies and funds options available in the marketplace? Have you? Retirement planning is fundamental for firms and businesses of all sizes. For additional resources on retirement planning visit our website

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