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Endgame for private practice ?

Endgame for private practice ?

Is small practice at the endgame stage ?

Small companies do not require an audit.

Accountants based abroad carry out the work.

Not very many good quality clients.

Not a cost effective method to recruit new clients

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18th May 2011 18:59

not quite

but see no use in being a member of a supervisory body

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18th May 2011 19:17

.

There are literally millions of clients out there.  Every shop, pub, farm, plumber, bricklayer, taxi driver, and landlord is a potential client.  Every small business requires an accountant irrespective of audit requirements. Given the increasingly aggressive attitude of HMRC they actually need an accountant more than ever, but only if that accountant is equiped to stand up to the Revenue.

Getting clients really isnt rocket science. It's all about -

Getting a good reputationGetting yourself known

Get those two right, and business will come to you, but, there isnt a "quick fix" or a fast track to success.

 

 

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18th May 2011 19:45

I don't agree

There's plenty of clients out there.

I've stopped paid advertising - it's a waste of money - and rely on recommendation and people finding me via search engines.

If somebody wants an accountant from the other side of the world let them use one.

Why are there less good quality clients? I charge a fair price and the work isn't too onerous.

The only problem I have is doing the work for the quantity of clients but I'm not going to overcharge simply to reduce the number of clients.

If you are not greedy you will do well.

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19th May 2011 08:24

Quality clients?

If you mean suckers who can be fleeced then maybe you are right. If you mean ordinary people who are willing to pay a reasonable fee to someone they like and trust to do a good job .... then you're talking nonsense. These people are more likely to join a circus than send their work abroad and the audit threshold has been academic for my client base for 10 years or more. For me its never looked healthier ... I have taken on 6 or 7 clients since April which is a big deal to me as that is about a 5% increase in t/o.

 

 

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19th May 2011 08:51

Writing is on the wall

@Quakers - I believe the writing is on the wall unless firms innovate and change.

I am not alone; I just published a report with eight other consultants, advisers and thought leaders. If you want a copy you can download it here.

The reality is that technology is getting smarter and easy to use so there is less “work” to do. Supply is growing and is it capable of doing more with less time. Some firm are using technology to acheieve this, others are outsourcing, some are doing both.

At the moment they are making good margins but as more and more adopt modern practices prices will fall. The only long-term answer for the profession is to move up the value chain and have a healthy mix of compliance and added value services.

In short, there needs to be a fundamental change of the business model, away from selling time to charging for value/knowledge. After putting together the report I came across some research which shows that billiable hour targets is leading to mental illness and I fear many more accountants will suffer before they change or die out.

The good news is that there are loads of opportunities out there and only one threat - doing nothing and being a traditional accountant. All you need is a new perspective and I suggest you get one or get out.

Raise your game and deliver more value to the market and you will receive more value.

Bob Harper

Portfolio | Marketing for Accountants

 

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19th May 2011 09:11

Death of private practice

Don't forget the help HMRC have given us by forcing documentation to be submitted on line including the latest joy iXBRL. The average small client doesn't have the software or infrastructure to do this. I've left out knowledge, reputation, skill all of which help to maintain at least a status quo. Recently I inherited a client from a firm based in India and what a dog's breakfast that was. So no I don't think they are a threat.

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19th May 2011 09:29

It reminds me

This reminds me that one of my partners expressed the view that with new technology the High Street banks would prepare annual accounts and tax returns for their customers - leaving traditional accountancy firms out in the cold.  His thinking was that the banks already had the clients' transactions in their computers - all they needed to do was code the expenditures to P&L headings and 'Bob's your Uncle'.

That fear was expressed to me about 30 years ago and, of course, it has not happened.

The reason is that accountants are not simply analysis machines and we have a lot of skill, knowledge and experience of our work.

For a similar reason I don't think outsourcing to India (or anywhere else) will result in the devastation of small accountancy practices in the UK.

But, like a number of others, I have developed my own firm as a niche practice.

David

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19th May 2011 09:33

Who knows? People who do it!

There's research and research. There's knowledge and knowledge. There's understanding and understanding.

I respect the opinions of people who have been deeply involved with accountancy but people who only talk about it can't possibly understand to the same depth.

There's this rush to overseas people and now there's a rush back. There's fashion and there's getting on with it and doing it properly. In any of this there is only one type of winner and these are people who know what they are doing.

 

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19th May 2011 09:38

Accountants must develop with the times

Like any business, accountants must develop with the times.  I have twice now done a cgt calculation for someone whose accountant is c80 years old (no kidding) does not use computers and doesn't do cgt.  The client only stays with him because he has been a client for many many years and is a friend, but I think he would really like to change due to the other accountant's inability to keep up with change. 

When I first worked in practice more than 20 years ago, we prepared accounts with pen and paper.  They were typed by secretaries and Friday afternoons were spent "calling and casting".  Now, that just would not make sense, and I can't imagine not having my computer, but I am sure there are still some accountants out there still doing this and quite frankly, although I don't begrudge them their living, they really need to move on or they will not survive.

Mary whatshername is looking at the death of the high street - I rarely go into town now because 1.  I am a tight accountant and don't like paying extortionate parking fees; and 2. Amazon is much easier.  The High Street needs to realise that times have changed.  Nothing stays the same forever, whether that is a good or a bad thing.

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19th May 2011 09:41

Be brave or be naive

@bernard michael - I am not saying there will not be accountancy firms but they will look like this www.crunch.co.uk. Pile it high and sell it cheap, low margins and high technology. Are they serious, I think they've had £4m so far and seem serious to me.

Is trying to maintaining the status quo a good strategy for any business?

By the way, IRIS has an Indian operation being used by UK accountants so it is UK accountants using outsourcing not just Indian firms coming direct.

You can believe nothing will change. You can believe it will get better without changing. I happen to believe that you need to change to maintain what you have and be brave to create a profitable and sustainable future.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing

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19th May 2011 09:45

Well I never............
I never thought I would agree with Bob, but he is spot on here.

"In short, there needs to be a fundamental change of the business model, away from selling time to charging for value/knowledge. "

Mind you, some of us have been doing this for a loooong time.

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19th May 2011 10:05

Calling and casting ....

 ah nostalgia!!  Still, how else were you meant to make up your billable units for the week? One or two for each bit of calling could take your admin total down and stop you being hauled before your partner. Ditto collecting and delivering client records, adding up a cash-book for one of the Seniors ... or failing all this just stealing client numbers from one of your colleagues!!!

 

Sole practitioners must intrinsically add value otherwise why would clients take the risk of going with such an apparantly more risky solution? I agree we have to continue to develop and change but I don't think this particular debate is actually about us as we already offer something that larger providors can't hope to replicate.

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19th May 2011 10:10

Don't come up with a solution and try to make a problem to fit

“Is trying to maintaining the status quo a good strategy for any business?”

Of course it isn’t. Things are changing rapidly – just not in the direction you think they are changing.

“By the way, IRIS has an Indian operation being used by UK accountants so it is UK accountants using outsourcing not just Indian firms coming direct.”

Some UK accountants are incompetent, too. That doesn’t mean because it is done that it is a good idea.

“You can believe nothing will change. You can believe it will get better without changing. I happen to believe that you need to change to maintain what you have and be brave to create a profitable and sustainable future.”

I agree about changing but I don’t agree with the way you think things will change.

More people will be self employed and need accountants. HMRC will introduce more technology based rules but will not make it easy for small businesses to comply so they will need accountants. Even now we get monkeys touting for business saying they can do work cheaply but people realise it is a false economy.

“In short, there needs to be a fundamental change of the business model, away from selling time to charging for value/knowledge”

It doesn’t matter how you charge for your work. What matters is how good are you and what do other accountants charge?

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19th May 2011 10:28

Annual return is overdue

If they are as bad with their customers as they are with their own obligations it doesn't look good.

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19th May 2011 10:52

Some good news

@nigelburge - glad to hear it.

@Taxhound - firms who don’t move on can and are surviving, it is just not very enjoyable for them and/or their clients.

@Davidwinch - as I understand it you are not in general practice and the banks have not done it yet. I would recommend leaving this on a firm’s SWOT analysis bearing in mind what Lloyds are offering personal clients with Money Manager?

@Peter - people who are “doing it, doing it” can sometimes not see the woods for the trees. The contributors to the report have many years practical experience and many more working with and observing others. These perspectives are valuable to some - have a read click here.

As for your other comments:

The view I have expressd is not just what I think or believe - are you up against a few people with a few more years than you.

Outsourcing works. The Internet enables, encourages and rewards it so my guess it will grow in all sectors. I recently asked a client if they wanted his Website built/coded in the UK for £700 or overseas for £100. What do you think they said?

Like I said, you are free to believe what you want and you will see lots of evidence to support your world view. That’s the way the human mind works; I used to believe in Father Christmas.

By the way, it doesn’t really matter how good you are. What counts is how good your clients think you are.

I didn’t understand your Annual Return comment?

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing
 

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19th May 2011 11:23

@ Bob

[email protected] - people who are “doing it, doing it” can sometimes not see the woods for the trees.”

Yes, if they don’t think about things.

“The contributors to the report have many years practical experience and many more working with and observing others. These perspectives are valuable to some”

Why did they leave accounting?

“The view I have expressd is not just what I think or believe - are you up against a few people with a few more years than you.”

It’s a question of who is right and who is wrong.

“Outsourcing works. The Internet enables, encourages and rewards it so my guess it will grow in all sectors. I recently asked a client if they wanted his Website built/coded in the UK for £700 or overseas for £100. What do you think they said?”

I bet they said overseas.

I have a client who is based in the UK. One of his jobs was designing the electronics for one of the biggest hospitals in the world. They went overseas because it was cheaper. The overseas people messed it up and they had to get him to sort it out. Guess where they will go next time.

“Like I said, you are free to believe what you want and you will see lots of evidence to support your world view. That’s the way the human mind works; I used to believe in Father Christmas.”

I never believed in Father Christmas.

“By the way, it doesn’t really matter how good you are. What counts is how good your clients think you are.”

I disagree. I prefer to be good than have somebody think I’m good.

“I didn’t understand your Annual Return comment?”

According to Companies House website, Crunch Accounting Ltd has not filed their annual return which was due on 28/04/11.

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19th May 2011 12:17

What is the answer?

@Peter - why did the people leave accounting? They didn’t, they just changed their roles. My guess is that they felt they could achieve more and make a bigger difference by working with accountants rather than being one. That was my reason anyway.

Correct, he said overseas and we managed it and the build is 100%. The problem with outsourcing is not the resource but the management.

Shame that you never believed in Father Christmas, you missed out there - what do you beleive the future of the profession is?

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing for Accountants
 

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19th May 2011 12:34

Reality is King

[email protected] - why did the people leave accounting? They didn’t, they just changed their roles. My guess is that they felt they could achieve more and make a bigger difference by working with accountants rather than being one. That was my reason anyway.”

I talk to a lot of people with different businesses and although it helps me to advise my clients I would never presume to know anywhere near as much as them.

“Correct, he said overseas and we managed it and the build is 100%. The problem with outsourcing is not the resource but the management.”

If the staff are incompetent no amount of management will overcome that. Some companies use top quality staff but unfortunately a lot of the outsourcing companies concentrate on the cost to their detriment.

“Shame that you never believed in Father Christmas, you missed out there”

I don’t think so. I enjoy reality too much.

“what do you beleive the future of the profession is?”

I think it’s the middle layer that is more likely to be squeezed. The big firms will deal with big businesses and the small firms will deal with small businesses. The good middle layer firms will survive but the average won’t. The smaller businesses won’t be able to DIY because of the technology demands by Companies House and HMRC. This will mean the small practitioners will have plenty of work. As always, startups will have the hardest time of the small practitioners.

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By mark589
19th May 2011 13:12

Load of rubbish

Can't see the average local business having their accounts done abroad?

Whree's the proof?

Businesses will always need local accountants.

 

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19th May 2011 13:16

What is reality

@Peter - as usual you and I disagree on just about everything.

Accountants may not know as much about the operational side of their client’s business BUT that is just one part. There is no reason why accountants cannot know more about:

Leadership and strategyManagement and HRMarketingSalesPricingIndustry trends

After all, accountants have firsthand experience and lots of clients to draw from. I just come off the phone with an accountant I work with who has just done a 3-hour marketing consultation with his client by drawing on the work we have done together.

It is just knowledge and with the Internet there is no excuse for not knowing. And, you do not even need to know more than the client to deliver value; business coaching can be hugely valueable.

How do you know a lot of outsourcing companies concentrate on cost to their detriment?

What do you think will happen when middle layer firms get squeezed? 

How do you know smaller business won’t be able to DIY? Perhaps there will be fewer demands made from Co House and HMRC. Perhaps the business population will be more capable?

Starting up is easier today than ever. Lower costs, easy access to market and a more level playing field.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing for Accountants

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19th May 2011 13:33

Any new start up want to be advised by Bob and publish the resul

[email protected] - as usual you and I disagree on just about everything.”

I’d be worried if we didn’t!

 “Accountants may not know as much about the operational side of their client’s business BUT that is just one part. There is no reason why accountants cannot know more about:

 Leadership and strategy

Management and HR

Marketing

Sales

Pricing

Industry trends

After all, accountants have firsthand experience and lots of clients to draw from. I just come off the phone with an accountant I work with who has just done a 3-hour marketing consultation with his client from what I did with him.

 It is just knowledge and with the Internet there is no excuse for not knowing. And, you do not need to know more to deliver value; business coaching can be hugely valueable for clients.”

The vast majority of my clients – maybe even 100% - don’t want anybody “coaching” them. I’ve seen it happen. Business people either know or don’t know. If they don’t know it’s because they don’t want to spend the time. They get consultants in and, no matter how capable they are, the business owner doesn’t make proper use of them and finally sees that they are a waste of money.

 “How do you know a lot of outsourcing companies concentrate on cost to their detriment?”

Because they lose customers.

 “What do you think will happen when middle layer firms get squeezed?”

They will either sell up to bigger or better firms or individual partners will take part of the client base.

 “How do you know smaller business won’t be able to DIY?”

Because I deal with them every day.

“Perhaps there will be fewer demands made from Co House and HMRC.”

Perhaps HMRC will make all penalties nil and all deadlines ten years after the period end.

“Perhaps the business population will be more capable?”

Perhaps they will be less capable because schools and universities are glorified nurseries.

“Starting up is easier today than ever. Lower costs, easy access to market and a more level playing field.”

It’s always been easy to start. The difficulty is getting clients. At least that’s what the vast majority of new startups say.

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19th May 2011 13:49

More competition equals what?

@Peter - yes, the vast majority of start-ups do say that it is hard to win clients. That is because it is hard to get going and they are not very good at sales and marketing and often under funded. But, that does not mean it isn’t easy and better than any time before.

So, you see more sole-trader accountants coming to market? What does more competition mean for other sole-traders?

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing for Accountants

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19th May 2011 13:56

Not competition

"So, you see more sole-trader accountants coming to market? What does more competition mean for other sole-traders?"

They might be sole traders but if they are taking the clients from a medium sized firm then they are not in competition with most sole practitioners.

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19th May 2011 14:11

More questions

@mark589 - check out what IRIS are offering.

Why specifically do businesses NEED a local accountant?

@Peter -you are making some big assumptions.

How do you know clients of medium sized firms will go with sole-traders?

The accountants I have see with a few big clients feel venerable because if they lose a client it is a big hit so maybe they will prefer small clients?

You left a bigger firm didn't you? Perhaps the accountants who fall out will follow your road.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing for Accountants
 

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19th May 2011 14:31

I'm in London. I wonder what the accountants are like in Glasgow

 

“Why specifically do businesses NEED a local accountant?”

They like to be able to discuss things face to face.

[email protected] -you are making some big assumptions.”

No bigger than the assumptions you are making.

“How do you know clients of medium sized firms will go with sole-traders?”

If clients have built up a personal relationship with the accountant they will stay with the accountant whenever possible. They won’t be thinking about whether they are a sole trader. They may not even know the accountant is a sole trader.

“The accountants I have see with a few big clients feel venerable because if they lose a client it is a big hit so maybe they will prefer small clients?”

A partner in a medium sized firm won’t have “a few big clients”.

“You left a bigger firm didn't you? Perhaps the accountants who fall out will follow your road.”

It was an international firm not medium sized. I wasn’t a partner so I didn’t have clients to take with me.

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19th May 2011 15:26

Lower margins

Peter - one of my assumptions includes more people being happy doing business over the Internet and using video conferencing, which makes being local less of an issue.

This takes more work away from local general practice firms at a time when there is more competition, better technology and outsourcing. That only leads to lower margins.

My assumptions are based on research, what is happening in firms across the UK as well as in the USA and they are shared with the leading industry commentators. 

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing to Accountants
 

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19th May 2011 15:36

Price sensitive?

"Peter - one of my assumptions includes more people being happy doing business over the Internet and using video conferencing, which makes being local less of an issue."

People don't do business over long distance unless there is a very good reason for it. Choosing somebody from a long way away just won't happen if they can find somebody close.

"This takes more work away from local general practice firms at a time when there is more competition, better technology and outsourcing. That only leads to lower margins."

I don't find people to be that price sensitive. They value a good service a lot more.

"My assumptions are based on research, what is happening in firms across the UK as well as in the USA and they are shared with the leading industry commentators."

Some links would be great.

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19th May 2011 15:37

.

Half way down this thread I stopped reading and started skimming because I was getting a feeling of dejavu.

I see a lot of sales talk and marketting clap-trap, but little real world experience being put forward to support the doomsday forecast for accountants.

From personal experience, when computers first hit the High Streets it was predicted that everyone would have an Amstrad 1640 and do their own accounts - well that happened didnt it?  I've no doubt that when the Biro replaced the quill it was viewed as the end of the world by some. 

Yes, practices will evolve and change, but, businesses change in response to developments, they don't cause developments. Bob, you seem to be putting the chicken before the egg as usual. 

Clients want face to face contact with their accountant, they dont want to deal with some faceless person in India, or even in the next town. Small clients in particular want to deal with a person, not an organisation. Thats why the big firms havent and never will force the one-man-band out of business. 

Perhaps if you had the experience of building, growing and running your own practice you would understand that sales speak and theories are just hot air, meaningless. 

 

 

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19th May 2011 16:03

Next

@Peter - what is a long way away, Brighton where Crunch is?

Like it oir not, all accountants are now competing with them. 

I can remember our conversation about your pricing, from memory you said you price below the larger competition. When your competition starts reducing their prices then what?

Links - start with the one above to the report.

@CD - "little real world experience "read the report and add-up the experience of the contributors.

Theories underpin and explain everything. 

The chicken egg question is looking back. This is about the future and like what I said to Peter, more and more people are happy (even prefer) dealing with things over the Internet. They can still interact with people.

You have a £10m practice right? How long did it take you to win your fist 1,000 clients? Crunch did it in less than two years.

So, what would I need to do running and building a practice for you to admit you are wrong?

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing for Accountants

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19th May 2011 16:14

.

@CD - "little real world experience "read the report and add-up the experience of the contributors.

Posted by Bob Harper on Thu, 19/05/2011 - 16:03

 

Any fool can "write a report".  I could knock you out a "report" on nuclear physics right now - that doesnt mean it would be right.  If they had been successful in the real world, they would still be there running succesful practices - they are not.

 

________________________________________________________

You have a £10m practice right? How long did it take you to win your fist 1,000 clients? Crunch did it in less than two years.

 

Posted by Bob Harper on Thu, 19/05/2011 - 16:03

 

You keep going on about "Crunch" - personally I'd sooner offer a Rolls Royce service, or at least a Skoda service - I certainly wouldnt want to be involved in a cheap Lada service, because it will break down, just wait and see.  The whole concept is wide open to abuse and fraud - think about it. 

  

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19th May 2011 16:44

Shrinking market

@CD - I keep going on about Crunch because they are a challenging the market.

By the way, as regards Rolls Royce as far as I know they sell 1,000 cars a year in the States. Cadillac sells 300,000. Sounds like a lot of accountants are going to be competining over a shrinking market.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Markerting for Accountants
 

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19th May 2011 16:50

Competitors?

[email protected] - what is a long way away, Brighton where Crunch is?”

Yes

 “Like it oir not, all accountants are now competing with them.”

They won’t be competing with me in any shape or form. My realistic competitors are other local accountants.

 “I can remember our conversation about your pricing, from memory you said you price below the larger competition. When your competition starts reducing their prices then what?”

I’ll stay the same or put my prices up. My clients appreciate my service and new clients don’t seem to object. Crunch’s prices are a lot lower than mine but given they can’t even submit their annual return on time I don’t see them as a realistic competitor.

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19th May 2011 17:26

I will say it just once more ....

 Bob you must stop sweeping all accountants up in to one homogenous offering. Of course the likes of Crunch will provide competition to some parts of the profession but unless they change their offering they are not that threatening to many of us.

From their website -  Freelancers and contractors across all industries are quickly realising that it’s time for a new type of accounting

As you know this is an easy sector to sweep up clients. SJD must have 1000's too as have a few other big providers. In this sector people will swap for a fees saving and their needs can be dealt with over the phone (which is the way Crunch say they provide support). 

BUT BUT BUT  .... this is not the same market as the one many of us operate in. We are dealing with people who need more help either because they are unable or they want a face to face meetings or wan't someone they know and trust etc etc etc. I just don't undertsand why you and Peter keep having the same argument ... you are talking about two different business models.

 

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19th May 2011 17:36

No competition

@Peter - actually, you are right. For the segment they are targeting you are not competition to Crunch.

Bob Harper

Portfolio | Marketing for Accountants 

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19th May 2011 17:40

Quality of work

Who would choose an accountant who doesn't seem able to submit their own annual return before the deadline?

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19th May 2011 17:53

.

Crunch may be signing up clients - but they are losing them too.  We have picked up a couple. Let's just say that they paid peanuts and got ......................

Do you honestly thonk that the average subcontrator has the first idea about what is, and isnt, allowable ?

Leave the average subcontractor to enter his own expenses and there are only two outcomes - he will underclaim and pay too much tax, or, he will claim for everything including the kitchen sink, his mother-in-laws new broom stick, and the pint he has on the way home, and end up the subject of a tax investigation.

The whole concept is based on a faulty assumption. HMRC are targetting restraunts, I wonder how long it will be before they target Crunch customers?

Incidently, I love their "see how crunch accounting compares" page. It simply proves that they nothing about how modern practices operate - or maybe they're deliberately trying to mislead potential customers?  Not very professional or ethical.

 

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19th May 2011 17:54

How will Crunch cope?

"@Peter - actually, you are right. For the segment they are targeting you are not competition to Crunch."

I didn't say that. I'm not saying I disagree, I am simply saying I didn't say that.

In their short life Crunch has had FOUR director's appointments terminated. Both sets of accounts with trading - one for three months and one for a year - were submitted to Companies House one or two days before the deadline. They didn't start trading until 2009. I would say it's only recently that businesses will find out what they have let themselves in for. They certainly seem a "just in time" - or not always! - type of accountants.

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19th May 2011 18:13

End of the game

@Peter & CD - thanks for the opportunity to discuss, the OP can make his/her own mind up. My position is that there is a bright future for the small practice, just not in basic compliance. 

I will leave you to agree with each other.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Markeing for Accountants

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19th May 2011 18:20

Business models

@Steve - I believe the contractor market is an insight into the future for all firms as people become more comfortable and start to prefer to consume services online.

As regards the two business models. Peter's is fundamentally based on leveraging time and effeciency. Mine is based on leveraging knowledge, effectiveness and is based on positioning and branding.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing for Accountants

 

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19th May 2011 18:25

.

@Peter & CD - thanks for the opportunity to discuss, the OP can make his/her own mind up. My position is that there is a bright future for the small practice, just not in basic compliance.

I will leave you to agree with each other.

 

Posted by Bob Harper on Thu, 19/05/2011 - 18:13

 

What's to discuss ?  We know that basic compliance work will continue to form the backbone of all accountancy practices.

I notice that you fail to address my point about the average subcontractor not knowing what he can claim, and the dangers of that not only to the taxpayer himself, but, to every other customer of Crunches when the inevitable happens and they are targetted. Why is that ?

 

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19th May 2011 18:28

Knowledge?

"As regards the two business models. Peter's is fundamentally based on leveraging time and effeciency. Mine is based on leveraging knowledge, effectiveness and is based on positioning and branding."

I think mine is based on knowledge and effectiveness, too. There's been no opportunity to look at Crunch's software (I wonder why?) so I can't comment on how good it is but unless clients want or need a full bookkeeping package I think Excel is easier for them to keep information. Cloud software can be very useful and simple with an accountant able to review easily. I'll be considering what to recommend in that area soon.

What knowledge does Crunch provide and how?

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19th May 2011 19:12

Not even close

@Peter - as far as I can see Crunch provide the knowledge of dealing with compliance and tax planning along with access to the software they have created. This is what most accountants do for most of their micro and small clients except they don’t have the software and can't get close to £59.50.

@CD - as far as I know the average contractor knows quite a bit about what they can and cannot claim. Have you seen the PCG 66 page free guide? Very impressive and you can register here.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing for Accountants
 

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19th May 2011 19:55

Marketing v Reality

[email protected] - as far as I can see Crunch provide the knowledge of dealing with compliance and tax planning along with access to the software they have created. This is what most accountants do for most of their micro and small clients except they don’t have the software and can't get close to £59.50.”

They still don’t seem to have the ability to submit their own annual return on time, though.

I wonder what the reality is of what Crunch provide? I have had new clients come to me and they were promised all sorts of things by their previous "pile it high and sell it cheap" monkey factory. I felt it was impossible to provide such a service for the price. It turned out the services were only for marketing reasons and when anybody asked for the services they were ignored.

[email protected] - as far as I know the average contractor knows quite a bit about what they can and cannot claim. Have you seen the PCG 66 page free guide? Very impressive”

How do you know? What has the guide got to do with what contractors know? That guide is put there to give the impression that people at the PCG know something. Nobody expects contractors will read the guide.

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19th May 2011 19:59

Brickies not geeks

I think CD is referring to subbies not IT pro's, Bob.  There's a hell of a lot more of the former than the latter.  As someone further up the thread said, you are dealing with a different concept of clients than Peter, or CD or me.  And even amongst professionals, there is a strong mistrust of outsourcing.  I also cherish personal meetings.  I can convey a lot more in a circumstance where I can wave my hands about.  Doesn't look quite the same on a videoconference.

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19th May 2011 20:10

Videoconferencing

Even companies that use videoconferencing believe that it doesn't replace geographical togetherness. People still travel to visit each other. The videoconferencing is used for urgent meetings when there isn't time to travel.

People will still choose somebody local - not an outfit in Brighton who can't even submit their annual return on time!

Judging from Bob's studied non-acceptance I'm sure he's read a book that suggests you put you head in the sand if somebody shows you reality!

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By Flash Gordon
19th May 2011 20:50

Not local

I'd disagree that every client wants a local accountant and meetings - I have clients further afield and have very few meetings these days. Everything is done by email. It works for me and it works for them. Not everyone is the same and you can't make sweeping generalisations. Clients are as varied as the contributors on here! 

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19th May 2011 21:10

Flash

Are you saying these clients picked you out from a long way away? What made them choose you?

I have two clients in both Australia and Gloucestershire, one client in each of the USA, Derby, Oxford and Glasgow.

All the rest of my clients are in the Home Counties.

I have met them all except one Australian (she is the sister of a local client), the one in Derby who liked what I said in a newsgroup and one in Great Missenden who picked me out on Google and I only submit dormant accounts and an annual return each year.

 

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19th May 2011 21:12

Difficult to understand

@Peter - nit picking about annual returns is just silly. [removed by mod - an irrelavant remark, designed to attack someone personally]

And, you may want to think twice about what you write about a company with a few million in the bank who are probably protective of their brand.

The accountants I speak with, who are active in the contractor market right now, tell me their clients are very knowledgeable because they read reports like the PCG and use the Internet forums. The market is generally much more knowledgeable because of the Internet. And, this trend will grow.

@Marion - more and more people are connecting online, it is not just geeks.

Not sure you are aware but there is a new socially connected generation coming to market and they really don’t need to sit with an accountant to go over miscellaneous expenses.

@Peter & Marion - remote working is a growing trend; I really cannot believe you are serious about refusing to accept the change that is happening.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing for Accountants
 

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19th May 2011 21:34

Bob seems to read upside down

[removed by mod - to reflect earlier moderation]

 “And, you may want to think twice about what you write about a company with a few million in the bank who are probably protective of their brand.”

What have I said that I should think twice about? I’m only saying that what I know about them doesn’t inspire me with confidence. I’m not saying they are hopeless because I don’t know. I just know that I wouldn’t consider them at all unless I was very close.

 “The accountants I speak with, who are active in the contractor market right now, tell me their clients are very knowledgeable because they read reports like the PCG and use the Internet forums. The market is generally much more knowledgeable because of the Internet. And, this trend will grow.”

I’ve seen people who use internet forums about accounting and if they are not accountants they are usually totally mixed up about the rules. they are just trying to get free advice.

[email protected] - more and more people are connecting online, it is not just geeks.

 Not sure you are aware but there is a new socially connected generation coming to market and they really don’t need to sit with an accountant to go over miscellaneous expenses.

[email protected] & Marion - remote working is a growing trend; I really cannot believe you are serious about refusing to accept the change that is happening.”

Remote working? When have I said that people don’t work remotely? I do it 99% of the time. What I am saying is that the vast majority of clients don’t pick accountants who they have never met face to face. Do you understand the difference between the two concepts?

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19th May 2011 22:32

.

And, you may want to think twice about what you write about a company with a few million in the bank who are probably protective of their brand.

 

Posted by Bob Harper on Thu, 19/05/2011 - 21:12

 

If they had a few million in the bank you'd think they would use some of it to pay someone to file their own accounts on time.

I have seen nothing said here that is remotely actionable.

 

______________________________________________________

The accountants I speak with, who are active in the contractor market right now, tell me their clients are very knowledgeable because they read reports like the PCG and use the Internet forums. The market is generally much more knowledgeable because of the Internet. And, this trend will grow.

 

Posted by Bob Harper on Thu, 19/05/2011 - 21:12

 

Sounds to me like the accountants you speak with have their heads firmly stuck in the sand. Leave a subcontractor to enter his own expenses and I absolutely guarantee he wil claim his Sky TV or whatever "because Fred down the pub said he could" - and the next thing you know he will be the subject of an investigation, closely followed by every other client once HMRC realise that there is no actual control (or very little) over what each subbie enters.

 

As for the PCG guide - do you honestly think that the average brickie or chippie would read past page one ?  Do you think that hill farmers, taxi drivers, publicans, shop keepers, engineers, etc have the slightest interest in what they can claim?

[removed by mod - personal attack]

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