Principal: Accountants Too Passive as Salespeople

By Ackermann, Matt | American Banker, April 22, 2002 | Go to article overview

Principal: Accountants Too Passive as Salespeople


Ackermann, Matt, American Banker


Accountants have been modestly successful as a sales channel for investment products, says a provider, but they need training to shake off their passivity about initiating sales.

"We have grown so accustomed to other intermediaries that we have to remind ourselves that accountants aren't salespeople," said Luanne Inderski who runs Principal Financial Group's CPA Alliance Program.

Ms. Inderski, a senior marketing consultant at Principal, said the Des Moines company's group working with accountants has been modestly successful since beginning a formal, rebranded effort in August but that accountants are barely skimming the surface of their potential.

"Products and services are available to them," she said. "Accountants have to become more marketing-oriented. Right now they are waiting for clients to ask for services." Ms. Inderski said that Principal is looking to train accountants to be less passive about selling investment products. They also need to shake off their wariness about selling advice, she said.

CPA Alliance gives accountants information and the opportunity to sell qualified and nonqualified retirement plans and financial products.

Principal has been selling its 401(k) plans, mutual funds, and insurance products through accountants since 1998 when the Uniform Accountancy Act, the model licensing law for accountants, was revised to let them accept commissions for selling financial products and collect fees for giving financial advice and referrals.

Since then several companies have begun selling products and services through accountants. A March report in Accounting Today said 53% of the 100 largest U.S. accounting firms offer investment services and personal financial planning.

David Ross Palmer, an analyst at Lobue & Associates, said accountants are wary about giving up their client relationships to let someone else supply planning and advice. …

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