When starting out as a firm of chartered accountants in London, I always thought that all of my clients would be new businesses. To a large degree I was right, and therein lies the problem.
New businesses typically have the smallest budget, but need the most advice. So what did I do? I found that because I was a small practice that my fees were often the most competitive charged by Chartered Accountants in London. This means that clients receive a high quality, partner-level service for the price that other firms might charge out their junior staff.
Often, if I was sure of the success of the business, I would quote affordable fixed fees despite knowing that there was a lot of groundwork to be done. This investment of a little goodwill to begin with, backed up by results, is a good start to our relationships because we have an ongoing business.
When Clients Need a New Accountant
Other clients arrive because of a change in circumstance or are not happy with their accountant.
The very first client that I signed up actually moved location to London and was looking for an accountant he could meet with in person. However, having moved back down to South England we still act for him and his business partner. This gives me a lot of satisfaction that our good relationship has overcome the geographical distance.
Over time I was introduced to more clients who wanted to move accountants. I found I had a reasonable signup rate once I spoke with the person. It was also really visible to get positive feedback, reviews and testimonials. I’d start by making sure I could see where the old accountant went wrong, and then trying to convince the client that we wouldn’t do the same.
Occasionally, we take over from the previous accountant and find that the tax schemes are in pretty good shape. However, a lot of the time we can change the VAT scheme, set up a payroll, or account for transactions properly and save losses and/or improve cashflow.
When Things Have Gone Wrong
In more complex cases, we may have to review many financial years worth of accounting records and correct costly errors. We have a page of testimonials and case studies showing how we identified incorrect accounting practices, or non-applied accounting rules, and saved our clients thousands of pounds.
At Key Business Consultants, we call this service Disaster Recovery Accountancy (DRA).
We always review new clients’ current accounting records as standard. But sometimes it’s cost-effective to backdate changes as far back as the legislation allows. As long as the new client is happy for us to do so, we can often find extra savings this way.
We’ve also worked with several clients where the previous accountant has left at short notice. In these cases, the accounting work has fallen some way behind, and penalties and interest quickly mount up. In these cases, it’s imperative to work quickly to stop the bleeding and tighten up the systems to stop it happening again.
When a client has had a poor experience with the accountant, they worry that they are throwing good money after bad to fix the problem. That’s why it’s crucial to communicate regularly: the steps we’re taking, the progress we’re making and the costs involved.
So if you need an accountant to come in and bring clarity to a messy situation, please get in touch.