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How to manage a client move

My client has moved on to another accountant. They have sent an e-mail to me and the new accountant confirming this, but as yet, I have heard nothing from the new practice (no clearnace, info requests, etc).  This e-mail was sent nearly 2 months ago now and I would like your views on the following:-

1.  I have all my client files ready to return and propose to send them back to the client rather than the new accountant in the absence of any communication from them.  Do you agree?

2.  What information should I keep regarding this client and for how long, i.e. copies of workings, etc

3.  Whose responsibility is it to inform HMRC about change of agent? This client still has me logged as their agent on the system.

Thanks in advance for your advice

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I'm surprised the new accountant has not been in contact.

 

Return the books to the client BUT make sure you get a receipt as I've know clients try to blame all sorts of things on their previous accountant.  We had a new client who tried to accuse his previous accountant of all sorts of things - the previous accountant is well known to me and I quickly concluded that the client was obviously not worth having. He was told that we really didnt consider him to be the kind of person we wanted to be associated with and invited him to leave our offices.Keep all working papers and copies of returns etc signed by client.Assuming you file online simply hit the link to remove him from your list - beyond that its not your problem.

 

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Thanks for that...

...I will proceed as you suggest.  Can I assume recorded delivery of documents to the registered office address is sufficient?

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Registered

 No, send it registered post - Royal Mail don't care about recorded post.

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Registered

Thanks Peter - you beat me to it.

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Disengagement letter?

Might be worth considering sending a disengagement letter to the client stating exactly where your responsibility for their affairs ends. State what the last accounts/tax returns, etc you've prepared are and the current position with any outstanding investigations and such-like. That way the client can't come back to you later and say "I thought you were just going to deal with these accounts/returns/finalise this enquiry before handing over to my new guy". 

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Feedback and fees

Could this be an opportunity to retain the client and/or get some valuable feedback?

Why not call the client and explain that the delay is not normal and at the same time ask why they are moving.  You could mention that you are looking at everything in your practice at the moment because the market is changing and offer to have a meeting to see if the hassle of the move is unnecessary.

If you speak to the client and there is no opportunity you could explain that you will deal with the requests from the new accountant for free but you will raise management fee (perhaps £50 a quarter) if he remains on your client list. This will cover storage of records and reviewing the status of the handover.

I also like the idea of a disengagement letter which sets out the terms of not being a client.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing

 

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Engagement letter clause?

Its a hassle when this happens, and you have to keep a file open waiting.

I have a clause in my engagement letter along the lines that files will be archived  three months after we cease to act and a fee charged to extract them from archive - its a hangover from paper days, as everything is electronic now, but I think the principle is a good one if only to (i) encourage (ex)clients to be prompt in appointing a new advisor and (ii) to cover time costs of re-opening something that itsn't current.

If a client indicates they are moving, or we decide to disengage, then they get a disengagement letter which includes highlights the clause.

Also for the real PITAs if we disengage them, I'll quite often prepare the 'typical' handover information and sent it direct to client with the disengagement letter and tell them to pass on to a new advisor.

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thanks for all the comments so far...

Funnily enough, this was a mutual parting of the ways as the clients' account was complex and very involved (always walking a tightrope with HMRC) and didn't warrant the fee or headache they caused.  The relationship was concluded amicably with an explanation that I didn't want to focus on this area anymore, etc, etc...all of which is very true.  I followed this up with a disengagement letter outlining what my outstanding responsibilities were up until the end of my notice period, so from that perspective I think I'm covered....

...Sounds like I've done what I can so far, I'll send the docs back to the client registered post and see if any queries or communication is forthcoming from the new advisers.  Thanks for all the input so far!

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