Aging Population Translates to Practice Development

The needs of aging baby boomers represent big opportunities for CPAs. There are 10,000 boomers hitting retirement age each day, and they need help in a lot of areas, which translates to practice development opportunities.

Over 13% of the U.S. population will be 65 by 2020, and more than 16% will be over 65. By 2030, most baby boomers will have hit their 65th birthday. This means that more than one in five Americans will be 65 or older, and about 10 million will be over age 85.

Money tops the list of problems for boomers since most haven’t saved enough to retire and survive through their later years. They also aren’t prepared to deal with declining health. Plus, they may have to contend with caring for parents. Combine these challenges with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and estate planning. A lot more people will have questions, and need guidance.

CPAs can help retirees and elders in a wide range of areas. Typically, seniors turn to attorneys for guidance, which makes sense in many areas. However, CPAs educated on the needs of baby boomers and elders can become valuable and needed advisors for a huge segment of the population.

The first step for CPAs is to get up to speed on issues;  particularly Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In addition to CPE programs there are a lot of resources available on elder issues. The next step is letting people know how you can help them.

Boomers try to do their own basic budgeting and cash management, and many are successful. Objective input from a CPA can verify they’re on the right course or help them build a concrete plan.

A simple budget spreadsheet can be a useful tool to assist boomers with understanding their situation and developing a plan for the future. Consider all possible income streams and all living expenses that boomers will incur. Most boomers think expenditures will be reduced in retirement. This often is not the case. A good analysis can become the basis for projecting into the future and providing boomers with guidance on possible options.

The budgeting exercise helps provide an independent sense of reality on retirement finances.

Dealing with Seniors
Having additional knowledge to help seniors gives CPAs an edge in developing an elder care practice. Here are some thoughts on how to gain the needed knowledge and information.

Take CPE on estate planning tools. This will give you a foundation on the basics of wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. If you’re advising boomers on carrying for elder parents, make sure they have signed powers of attorney for business and medical reasons in case the parents can’t manage their own affairs. These documents are essential and critical.

Most boomers don’t think about elder care and what it entails. CPAs who understand the complexities can provide much needed support. Take the time to learn about senior housing options. Understand the difference between independent and assisted living, skilled nursing, nursing homes, and memory care.

One of the best ways to gain knowledge about the variety of living options is to take a tour of a facility, or better yet, talk to someone in the field of senior living. There are a variety of billing structures and other financial information that vary from facility to facility. Some facilities accept Medicaid and Long-term Care Insurance, while others don’t or only accept them for specific care.

Even with the best planning, some elders run out of money or may need to be moved for care reasons. A CPA who can provide guidance before a move is made can be a life saver to baby boomer and senior clients.

Gaining knowledge of senior housing facilities can also become a great networking and marketing opportunity as these organizations are happy to know of available resources for their residents. CPAs who understand elder care and associated issues represent a valuable and needed resource.

CPAs who understand the shifting needs of baby boomers and elders can position themselves to provide significant added value to a segment of the population that needs all the help it can get. While it will take some time to gain the necessary knowledge and market it, CPAs are well qualified to fill this growing practice area.

By C. Lynn Northrup, CPA

Contact Information:
You can reach C. Lynn Northrup, CPA at cln@northrupcpa.com.
He is the author of Navigating Retirement and the Challenges of Aging.
www.northrupcpa.com.

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