Andrea Millar
 
 

Andrea Millar

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Senior Technical Manager

AICPA PFP Division

Raleigh, NC

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Clocking the Dollars

Q&A with a Personal Financial Planner

Get an insider’s scoop on what it’s like to be the VIP who helps the wealthy decide how to manage their moolah. Andrea Millar, AICPA PFP Division’s Senior Technical Manager, answered inquiries about everything from advising about investments to keeping people from blowing their bank accounts on pointless purchases.


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ThisWayToCPA:  Hello everyone. Our panelist, Andrea Millar will join us shortly. We will get started right around 3:00 p.m. Feel free to start submitting your questions.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 02:54

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Andrea Millar:  Hello everyone!

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:03

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ThisWayToCPA:  Thank you so much for joining us! And thanks to all who have submitted questions. Andrea Millar is a personal financial planner. She will be with us for the next hour.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:04

Question

Jeffrey A.:  What kinds of tasks does a personal financial planner complete every day?

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:05

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Andrea Millar:  Hi Jeffrey! That's the beauty of being a financial planner. The tasks vary from day to day and are never the same. Generally, you are meeting with clients, working on financial plans, meeting with your team, researching issues, preparing tax returns, etc.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:06

Question

Kelly:  Can I start in PFP or do I need to get experience in other accounting areas first?

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:06

Question

Kashanna:  Hi

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:07

Question

Kashanna:  how much work experience to you need to be in order to become an Financial planner?

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:07

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Andrea Millar:  Hi Kelly - great question! There are many options available in terms of going into PFP right away or getting some other experience under your belt first. My personal journey was starting first in a CPA firm preparing tax returns for individuals and closely held entitites. This tax knowledge is a needed foundation that impacts much of the financial planning and gets you way ahead of the game. It gives you the chance to build your client base and easily transition into PFP.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:09

How likely are you to become a financial planner?

Very likely
( 0% )
I'm interested, but unsure
( 62% )
I don't know enough about it yet
( 25% )
Financial planning is not for me
( 12% )

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:09

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Andrea Millar:  Hi Kashanna - you don't necessarily need any work experience to become a financial planner. I beefed up my education as I was learning on the job. It depends on the firm you land in whether you will be able to start in PFP right away. This would be a good question to ask as you interview if you're interested in this path. You will need 3000 of business experience in addition to your CPA in order to gain the personal financial specialist (PFS) credential.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:12

Question

Audraona B:  Hi. I am a graduate student taking a concentration in Accounting with plans to take the cpa after graduation. I am very interested in learning more information about becoming a PFP since the past spring after preparing taxes. Any suggestions about certain classes to take or general advice about the field.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:12

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ThisWayToCPA:  We're getting a lot of great questions. We want Andrea to take as much time as she needs to answer, so be sure to vote in our polls while you wait.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:14

Question

Kashanna:  3,000 working hours??

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:15

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Andrea Millar:  Audraona, great question. I would concentrate on any courses available to you in individual & closely held tax, estate, retirement, investment and insurance planning. If these courses aren't available to you through your school, you can get educated through the AICPA self study courses in each of these areas. Visit www.aicpa.org/PFP/PFS to learn more.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:15

Question

CPABound:  Which college courses should I take to prepare for a career in financial planning? Is there a college major in this field?

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:16

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ThisWayToCPA:  Hi there CPABound. See Andrea's answer to Audroana.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:17

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Andrea Millar:  Kashanna - yes, 3000 hours sounds like a lot. However, you will do well practicing as a CPA financial panner until you have reached this hurdle. The PFS designation is only awarded to practititoners who have demonstrated an in-depth expertise in financial planning. It is a broad subject matter and will take awhile to get the proper education and experience to hold yourself out as an expert in this subject matter.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:18

Who would you like to help as a PFP?

Retirees
( 14% )
Newlyweds
( 28% )
Celebrities
( 42% )
No preference
( 14% )

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:18

Question

Rebecca:  What are the 3 most important questions you would ask a client during an intial consultation?

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:19

Question

Audraona:  Thanks Andrea for the help. I am interested in the Big 4 accounting firms, but I feel that in order to fully grasp the importance of financial planning, that a smaller to mid-size firm will be the best route to go. Any suggestions?

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:20

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Andrea Millar:  Hi Rebecca. It's difficult to boil down to 3 questions. Instead, I would say that gaining an understanding of the client's family dynamic, their long term goals and their current financial situtation are most important.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:21

Question

Guest:  Do you get involved with helping a client managing a budget only on personal level or can you assist with business goal too?

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:21

What area of PFP interests you most?

Estate planning
( 0% )
Personal income tax planning
( 50% )
Charitable planning
( 25% )
Investment planning
( 25% )

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:23

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Andrea Millar:  Great question, Audraona. I personally found great success by going the Big 4 route in terms of gaining exposure to top notch education, people and resources that has greatly helped me in my success. I think the key is to ask questions in your interviews to determine the level of exposure. I don't think the firm size matters so long as you have a clear understanding of what you'd like to do and ensure that the firm matches your expectations.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:25

Question

CPABound:  Can you ever be sued for advice you give to a client?

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:25

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ThisWayToCPA:  If you want to learn more about our featured panelist Andrea Millar, please visit her profile page on our website:
http://www.thiswaytocpa.com/profession/profiles/andrea-millar/

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:28

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Andrea Millar:  Hi Guest. Fantastic question! Many CPAs get involved with the business side as well. In fact, this is a great differentiator for the CPA financial planner as compared to the non-CPA financial planner. If you go the financial planning route, you will likely be dealing with the closely held businesses of your individual clients. So, partnerships, s corporations, limited liability companies for which the individual has ownership. It goes much deeper than budgeting. You will be oversee the planning for both and ensure that the entire plan flows together.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:29

Question

Lisa:  What is your favorite thing about being a PFP?

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:29

Question

Ruth:  How much is the starting salary for a Personal Financial Planner?

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:30

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Andrea Millar:  Great question, CPABound. As with anything these days, yes, you can be sued. That is why it is critically important to ensure you follow the standards for CPAs as set forth in the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct. The AICPA has many resources to help your firm ensure you are following your standards. We also have the AICPA Statement on Responsibilities in Personal Financial Planning Practice that bridges your responsiblites as a CPA to financial planning. If you follow your professional standards, you should be in good shape.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:32

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Andrea Millar:  Hi Lisa! By far, I am most passionte about helping individuals succeed in their life. I started out in corporate tax, because I had no clue at the time that CPAs could be financial planners. It was worthwhile to understand the financial statements but I did not feel very fulfilled. When I made the transition to PFP, I felt like I was truly making a difference in the lives of others. And my knoweldge helped me help myself and my family and friends.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:35

Question

Guest:  Do PFPs get paid based on how much money their clients have?

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:35

Question

Rebecca:  What kind of hours do you work as a Personal Financial Planner?

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:37

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Andrea Millar:  Ruth, the starting salary can fluctuate based on the type of firm you begin your career with. I would check with Robert Half to determine comparable salaries. I did not find that the starting salaries for CPA financial planners differed signifcantly from a CPA doing audit or tax. Though, as I built my knowledge, I found that my potential as a financial planner was greater. If you decide to go with a bank or wire house versus a CPA firm, your base salary will likely be lower but you will likely receive incentive compensation to supplement your base.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:39

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ThisWayToCPA:  Here's a link that can help you calculate local financial salaries: http://www.roberthalffinance.com/SalaryCenter?rhisg_action=startover

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:42

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Andrea Millar:  Guest, there are many ways in which a CPA financial planner can get compensated. Many get paid based on hourly or retainer fees. Others get paid based on a percentage of assets under management, if they manage assets. Some get a combination of hourly, retainer and assets under management fees. Still others also sell products and are compensated through commissions, though this is not as prevalent in the CPA world because CPAs like to remain unbiased in the advice they provide and it is more difficult to do so when selling products. I should note that you do not have to manage assets to be a great financial planner.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:44

Question

Guest:  What type of companies can a personal financial planner work at? Can you be self employed?

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:45

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Andrea Millar:  Rebecca, great question that I'm sure others are eager to address as well. The number of hours you work really depends on the work that you do and the deadlines associated. For example, if you prepare taxes in addition to preparing financial plans, you will likely be working more than 40 hours per week during the tax season months of February through April. If you are managing assets or overseeing investments, you will have quarterly reporting that will be busier than other times of the year.

If you are very concerned about keeping a good work life balance, you can make it happen by ensuring you land at a firm who places value on this balance.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:50

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ThisWayToCPA:  Time flies when you're having fun! We have nine minutes left...time for a few more questions.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:50

Question

Ronald:  What personality traits are good for personal financial planners to have?

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:51

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ThisWayToCPA:  Here's another great resource for our chat participants. Check out the Industries and Specializations section: http://www.thiswaytocpa.com/profession/industries-specializations/

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:51

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ThisWayToCPA:  We're not sure why that last link isn't live. Let's try it again:
http://www.thiswaytocpa.com/profession/industries-specializations/

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:52

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Andrea Millar:  Hi Guest. There are endless options in financial planning. You can work for a CPA firm, a wire house (like JP Morgan), a boutique financial planning or investment firm, a bank, etc., etc. And yes, you can be self employed so long as you have the discipline to get educated and seek out others to serve as mentors or to run ideas by. You can get involved with the AICPA PFP Division or your state societies to network and learn from other CPAs. And I would encourage you to network with attorneys, insurance brokers and bankers in your area since they are usually a part of the team of professionals serving the client. It will be hard work to build your clientele and gain your expertise. But it can be done.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:54

What other topics would you like to see us cover in future chats?

Navigating the public arena
( 0% )
An inside view of the CPA Exam from a recent test-taker
( 0% )
Networking
( 25% )
Fraud and forensics
( 75% )
Other
( 0% )

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:57

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Andrea Millar:  Great question, Ronald! You definitely need to be a people person to be a good financial planner. You will be spending a lot of your time meeting with clients and to be successful you need to know much more about your clients than their finances. You will need to undersand personalities and family dynamics, etc. And I think you need to truly want to make a difference in your clients lives. In addition to the typical CPA analytical skills.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:58

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ThisWayToCPA:  There are a few questions we weren't able to cover in this one-hour session. Andrea's expertise was in high demand. We can't thank you enough for participating. Should we do a part two on this topic?

Wednesday June 29, 2011 03:59

Question

Kashanna:  YES !

Wednesday June 29, 2011 04:00

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Rebecca:  Thank you so much, Andrea!

Wednesday June 29, 2011 04:01

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Andrea Millar:  Thanks, everyone!! Feel free to contact me at amillar@aicpa.org for additional questions.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 04:01

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ThisWayToCPA:  If you haven't had a chance to explore our Facebook page, check out the new Welcome page and be sure to vote in the Money Management Faceoff!

http://www.facebook.com/ThisWaytoCPA?sk=app_190322544333196

Wednesday June 29, 2011 04:02

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ThisWayToCPA:  Thank you so much for your time and great insights, Andrea.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 04:03

Question

Stacie:  Great conversation!

Wednesday June 29, 2011 04:03

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ThisWayToCPA:  Have a great afternoon, everyone.

Wednesday June 29, 2011 04:05