The More Things Change

I took my summer vacation early this year, and it was a Roman Holiday, minus Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. I started with a night in Milan. Then I took the train down the Italian coast for a few days in Cinque Terre, which is a delightful collection of seaside villages hugging the Mediterranean. Finally, I took another train to Rome. (Leaving Rome was especially hard because it meant a series of three flights to Las Vegas for a speaking engagement. Ugh.)

I think my favorite part of Rome was the afternoon I spent touring the ancient ruins. I started at the Colosseum, then made my way through the various arches, palaces, and temples of the Roman Forum. (A funny thing happened on the way…)

It really was amazing to see how well those ancient structures have held up over the last 2,000 years. I was especially impressed by the Colosseum. It’s the size of a decent modern stadium, and still amazingly well-preserved despite losing some outer walls to an earthquake or two. Here in Cincinnati, we built Riverfront Stadium, one of those awful “multipurpose stadiums” in 1970 to house the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals, and it was so unloved we imploded it just 32 years later.

It got me to thinking about how things change, and how things stay the same, and how it all applies to our business.

On to some change – this time, in the halls of Congress. This morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled the Senate Republicans’ version of Obamacare “repeal.” I’m not sure you can plausibly say it repeals Obamacare, although it takes great big swipes at Medicaid and repeals the net investment income tax that Washington imposed back in 2009 to pay for it all.

While McConnell’s bill looks likely to pass the Senate, it’s still unsure whether the two houses can successfully reconcile their healthcare efforts in conference to produce something that can pass both. And even if that happens, Trump has signaled he wants something a little more generous and a little less mean. So, really, who the hell knows what’s going to happen with it all?

 

Next on Congress’s agenda, at least until the next scandal hits the press, is tax reform. Months ago, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin unveiled a hand-scrawled capsule outline of the administration’s plan, consisting of a single page of bullet points. Time will tell if Washington can cobble together enough agreement to make that succeed. And if they do, we can expect more twists and turns than in one of those Jason Bourne movies that hits theatres every couple of years or so. (Next up: The Bourne Redundancy.)

So – what does that mean for us? Change – maybe! And as scary as it can be, change can be good for our business.

Prospects and clients will want to know how these changes affect them. And there will be no shortage of tax and finance professionals willing to answer those questions, whether the results are good or bad.

But prospects and clients will also want to know how they can use the new rules to their advantage – to change the results under the new rules.

That’s a huge difference. Most professionals in our industry will focus on what the new laws say and how to properly record your history under those new laws.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. And the more Washington changes the rules, the more your role stays the same.

So, be there for your clients. Answer their questions. But remember, they don’t just want to know how to record that history. (In fact, they don’t care how to do it; that’s why they’ve got you.)

They want to know what new opportunities will exist to take advantage of to better their circumstances.

Focus on those opportunities. It won’t help your practice last as long as the Colosseum. But you ought to be able to outlast poor doomed Riverfront Stadium!