When Alex Sonkin came up with a business idea for his wife, he never dreamed that MacroBar would become America's leading protein and energy bar. The company they created, GoMacro, became so prosperous that she was able to quit her job as a teacher. But that success also led to new tax challenges for the family, eventually inspiring Alex to start his company, The Due Diligence Project™, which helps CPAs retain and attract high-net-worth clients by accessing a revolutionary due diligence system.
"When my wife's company took off, and we moved to California, I started working with family offices and CPA firms and soon realized that most CPAs didn't have access to the best tax planning strategies or have the time or resources even to know who to call for the answers," Alex says. He also realized less than 18% of Fortune 500 companies can zero out their tax returns every year—meaning 82% of the world's most profitable companies cannot. Alex knew there was a massive opportunity to help elite tax professionals and provide them with the support they needed, and so it was that The Due Diligence Project was born. What started 15 years ago with Alex’s firm providing education and resources to roughly 20 CPA firms has now grown into a global community of more than 700 elite CPA firms, law firms, and family offices providing independent ratings and rankings. The goal is to identify best-in-class, peer-reviewed resources and strategies in 10X less time and with 10X more confidence.
We caught up with Alex to learn more about his background, his passion for helping other professionals better serve their clients, and how he sees his company as similar to Amazon.
What did you do before you launched The Due Diligence Project™?
I graduated from the University of Michigan's business school and have always been driven with new ideas and an entrepreneurial spirit to create something better. I was a member of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), and the Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE). The experience that I gained from making markets on the floor as a derivatives trader, combined with my finance background has really added a new perspective and competitive advantage when looking at what we are doing in terms of sophisticated tax planning.
Why help lawyers and CPAs?
I am very competitive, and winning is very important to me. For me to be valuable, I feel like I have to contribute to a winning team. Figuring out how to be extremely valuable to this elite community and delivering on this has been a process. We found all these attorneys and CPAs who are the best and brightest at what they do but most need help finding and evaluating new ideas, while others need assistance explaining some of these complex strategies to their clients in a simple way. We have created this facility for a more streamlined, efficient process that makes everyone’s job easier. Ultimately, we have become great at building winning teams, and building these teams with the very best resources is essential in order to achieve the best results. Our network of hundreds of CPAs continues this arduous vetting, ranking, and rating process on every specialist and strategy we are exposed to, so that our network can always have the most updated, elite team of financial experts worldwide.
What makes your company so unique?
We have a revolutionary approach to tax planning; this is the first time anyone has done this. We look at tax planning and rely on those with at least 10,000 hours of experience in tax court, audits, etc. In our large community of tax professionals, each has their specialty and experiences, their own "data points," knowing to ask the right questions and provide the feedback necessary to improve the process and resources. Business owners are happy to get their CPAs plugged into our network, and CPAs are excited because it saves them time and allows them to find the best ideas to reduce their clients’ taxes and other costs. And, in turn, this generates more fees by enabling them to bring greater client value.
What are some of the ways in which you help your clients?
We have five specific ways we work with our CPAs. First, we supercharge and elevate elite firms and multifamily offices, eliminating referral risk and other inefficiencies by installing a revolutionary process that reduces their time to complete tax planning due diligence and increase confidence by a factor of ten (10X). Next, they get instant access to our global network of specialists, thought leaders, and fellow community members which enables them to get questions answered quickly, while providing clients with first-rate knowledge, service, and support. Third, we position the CPAs as quarterbacks of the entire planning process, so they get credit for providing those solutions, which may be designed by world-class specialists working from the other side of the country. Fourth, they can deliver efficient, dynamic, proprietary tax, risk, or cost mitigation strategies without wasting time and energy. Finally, we further enable them to become their clients’ most trusted advisors, offering so much value that no other competitor can compete with them. The ultimate result of all these benefits, is that many clients are simply compelled to refer their successful friends, family and partners to the CPAs plugged into our system.
How is The Due Diligence Project™ similar to Amazon?
Amazon uses a peer-review ranking and rating system for products they sell or movies they stream, and we do the same thing but for tax planning. The difference is that our community of contributing voters consists almost entirely of elite tax-focused CPAs who have at least 10,000 hours or hopefully over 50,000 hours of experience in audits or tax court. Building this massive CPA community is a revolutionary approach to due diligence and tax planning. We are housing all the notes—rankings, ratings, and feedback —from all CPAs on hundreds of strategies, which helps others to do their analysis and due diligence much more efficiently.
Founder — The Due Diligence Project™
LinkedIn: Alex Sonkin; https://www.linkedin.com/company/duediligenceproject/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexsonkin/