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ACA costs still unknown, but the consult is free EisnerAmper offers program as a value add for clients

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Like any CEO, Phil Vigeant knew the Affordable Care Act was going to have a huge financial impact on his company.
But when he got a call from EisnerAmper to discuss its ramifications, he immediately got a good piece of financial news: The consultation would be free.

In an effort to help its clients better understand — and better prepare for — the wide-ranging implications of the law, EisnerAmper created a team of experts and made them available free of charge.

Vigeant, the head of Reliance Private Label Supplements, of Edison, was only too happy to listen.

"It was a big education for me to understand this is what we know now and what we'll need to know later, and to get an updated perspective on what is going to be implemented down the line," Vigeant said. "It helped us make a much more clear decision on what we are going to do."

The meetings are something Jay Weinstein, partner in charge of EisnerAmper's Metropark office, felt were needed.

"We want to address the things that are on our clients minds that are keeping them up at night," Weinberg said. "Health care is one of those things that are keeping them up at night. We want to be their service provider to address these things. We want to be their solution provider."

EisnerAmper can reach its clients in a number of ways, either by group seminars and online hookups or by the more classic one-on-one meeting.

"We'll come up with suggestions on how to address the act and how clients can mitigate costs," Weinberg said. "And a lot of these are six-figure suggestions."

So why do it for free?

Weinberg said EisnerAmper already charges its clients a premium for its services — he wants to make sure clients realize they are getting premium service. And, he said, follow-up meetings will come with a bill.

"It's a differentiator for us," Weinberg said. "Not many firms can provide this type of service. When we're out with prospective clients, this is on the top of the agenda to additional value-add services we can provide."

The idea to counsel clients about the ACA, and to do it free of charge, was something EisnerAmper's leadership came up with after the bill was signed in March 2010.

Onofrio Cirianni, a managing member of Eisen Amper insurance and financial services group, has been of the leaders of the group since day one.

"Within weeks of the act being passed, we were starting to get our hands around what this really means," he said. "We were starting to identify the most important issues for our clients — and we've been building on that for the last two years."

Cirianni said EisnerAmper feels the ACA is different from other pieces of legislation in that it encompasses so many different aspects of a company, from taxes and reporting to employee benefits and human capital.

Weinberg and Cirianni said they knew EisnerAmper was meeting a need with these presentations when they saw the audience.

"The CEO wants to be in the meeting," Weinberg said. "That's unusual. It's very hard to get three hours of their time, but they make the time for this."

And they don't even have to bring their checkbooks.

E-mail to: tomb@njbiz.com

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