Tools to advance your firm’s growth and success

aia leadership academy

During these tough economic times, the AIA Leadership Academy and tax-intelligent planning for clients can give architecture firms a competitive edge. AIA partner Engineered Tax Services explains.

In the wake of the pandemic, these are challenging times for architectural firms, particularly regarding the field of commercial real estate. But there are tools you can access to give your firm the competitive edge it needs to triumph in today’s marketplace. One such tool is the AIA Leadership Academy: A Leadership and Business Development Program for Architects.

Consider taking advantage of AIA’s new flagship leadership development program, the AIA Leadership Academy, developed in partnership with The Growth Partnership (TGP), an executive coaching and advisory firm that’s a subsidiary of Engineered Tax Services, an AIA Innovation Partner.

This three-year program is designed for architects who are ready to advance their firms by learning critical business and leadership skills to grow their business, lead change and innovation, empower and engage people, and create immediate impact. 

It’s the first—and only—multiyear program for architects that focuses on firm, professional, and community leadership. Expert instructors lead small classes (cohort-based classes) limited to 28 students. Students receive one-on-one personalized virtual coaching sessions.

The curriculum will teach you to lead across four key areas: managing yourself, your firm, your profession, and your community. The program combines annual retreats, virtual classes, and individualized coaching. Sessions include knowledge-based lectures, facilitated exercises, panels, small- and large-group activities, success labs, best practice forums, and project-based assignments between sessions to promote problem solving and application-based learning. 

Architects already have the technical knowledge and expertise to be successful, but interpersonal skills and leadership are an area that many professional service providers struggle with. 

In addition to the development of leadership skills, it’s important for professionals to offer advisory services and suggestions to bring added value to clients. This can strengthen the client relationship and loyalty. 

Differentiate yourself with value-added services

To achieve success as a leader in the architectural world, it’s important to focus not only on technical skillsets, but also to build your personal soft skills. You can act as an advisor to your clients by bringing to the table value-added services, such as a knowledge of incentives and benefits they can claim for projects you’re designing.

This can save your clients millions in tax dollars. For example:

These tax advantages bring substantial value to your clients. In addition, your firm could be claiming R&D credits and 179D deductions directly for some projects. 

You can enhance your client’s bottom line by introducing the following tax strategies:

Winning clients by identifying hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional value

Clients can gain substantial tax savings in unexpected ways—but sadly, most CPA firms are unaware of these incentives, and because they require an engineer, they’re overlooked. When most architects hear “tax credits,” their eyes glaze over because they assume their CPA is supposed to handle anything tax-related. As a result, these incentives are left on the table. 

Simple suggestions for tax planning might include:

Align yourself with strategic partners

With proper advice, your clients can pre-qualify for energy efficiency tax incentives stemming from 179D and 45L—and 179D’s new regulations make it much more challenging to qualify for. However, utilizing a strategic partner can make you shine. For example:

Yes, architectural firms are facing difficult times. But you’re not alone. The AIA Leadership Academy can help you develop leadership skills so your firm can achieve its full potential. In addition, Engineered Tax Services offers consulting and certification for these tax incentives and partners with hundreds of architectural firms across the United States to offer specialty tax services and consulting to help you achieve even greater success.