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Taking on clients before their year end

I would be grateful for comments from other accountants on how they deal with taking on new clients part way through their year ie before their year end.

I have done this. I am thinking about changing this practice - wait till their year end. My concern is that client may move elsewhere. What is your experience?

The problem I have with taking on clients part way through the year are:

  • Trail balance is not provided by the previous accountant. TB would  be my starting point.
  • Far more work is involved in starting from the last year's balance sheet

I have done this now and will handle it. I am thinking about the future now. Do you take on client "in year" ? How do you deal with taking over from where previous accountant left?

Thanks

Replies

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What?

So if a client came to you and wanted to come on board you would say " no sorry, its part way through your financial year, please come back after your year-end?".

 

You must be confident they will come back to you.

 

I think if you want the client, you take it at any time, fair enough if you aren't too bothered about the client, but if you want it you take it.

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By Flash Gordon
04th Aug 2011 09:04

Deja vu?

I thought we did this question last week? Everyone said contact the old accountant for the info.... Or am I barking?!

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By Top_Cat
04th Aug 2011 09:47

-

Flash Gordon wrote:

I thought we did this question last week? Everyone said contact the old accountant for the info.... Or am I barking?!

 

 

YES - Next question

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04th Aug 2011 09:05

when ever you take them on

the same potential difficulty arises.

 

The point really is to ask the previous accountants to provide all the carry forward info you will need.

We had a standard list of matters to request which they can mark na if that is the case.

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04th Aug 2011 09:09

I don't see the problem!

If the client prepares their own payroll, bookkeeping and VAT I don't see why the timing makes any difference.

Yes, there is a little more work involved if the previous accountant provided payroll, bookkeeping or VAT Services, but the data belongs to the client. You shouldn't have any problem getting this information from the accountant.

If you are not approaching the previous accountant for the information (as you have said previously) then you are making your own task more difficult. You will have to duplicate the work, and unless it was done incorrectly originally, I can't imagine a new client being happy to pay you for the duplicated work.

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I don't understand the question. Do you do the bookkeeping/VAT/PAYE for all your clients? If not then what does it matter when you take them on? Maybe I am the odd one but I don't do payroll or bookkeeping for any clients and VAT only for 2 or 3 so I don't recognise your situation at all.

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04th Aug 2011 09:30

Shirley

I did not say I do not contact previous accountants as a standard procedure. Only where a client specifically ask me not to contact the previous accountant, this is where I leave it.

As you know there has been a long discussion on this aspect, I will agree to disagare with you and many others on this aspect.

 

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04th Aug 2011 09:50

@FirstTab
Shirley FirstTab PM | Thu, 04/08/2011 - 09:30 I did not say I do not contact previous accountants as a standard procedure. Only where a client specifically ask me not to contact the previous accountant, this is where I leave it.

As you know there has been a long discussion on this aspect, I will agree to disagare with you and many others on this aspect. 

-------------

Please excuse me for being pedantic, but I didnt say that it was your standard procedure, nor did I criticise. If it appears different, then I apologise!

I was merely pointing out that you are making your task more difficult, by not approaching the previous accountant.

It is entirely your choice to agree, or disagree, as you see fit, and it is also your choice as to whether you value our comments, or not.

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04th Aug 2011 09:35

Why ask such silly questions then?

Are you actually running a practice? You question makes no sense at all for anyone who claims to be a tax advisor.

 

 

 

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By Old Greying Accountant
04th Aug 2011 09:46

After eights!

This is a bit like eating After Eights mints - it is always after eight, so eat them when you like!

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By vince8
04th Aug 2011 09:52

Well said Roland195

Its in line with just about all the other questions raised by this person.

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04th Aug 2011 10:23

What a strange question

You accept instructions to act for any client at any time. The only time where one would would wait is when the old accountant is about to finalise account/tax returns and even then you take them on, with the understanding that your work will start at a particular point.

Coming back to the "not contacting the old accountant because the new client has asked me not to" point: I have never had this arise in over 30 years of practice and if it did arise, I would have to have an absolutely cast-iron reason from the potential client to agree. Even then, VERY loud warnings bells would be ringing. All I can say is that FT must be taking on some very strange clients!

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04th Aug 2011 10:57

Keep it coming

Please keep the comments comming - supportive or (edit) helpful in other ways . It all helps.

 

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04th Aug 2011 10:48

What is it you want us to say here?

FirstTab wrote:

Please keep the comments comming - supportive or overly critical. It all helps.

 

I don't think you can accuse anyone of being overly critical here. You are asking a question that casts serious doubt over your ability to operate as an accountant and the worry is that you still can't see why.

Lets take the example of a garage. If you were driving with bald tires or dodgy brakes do you think the mechanic would tell you to go away and come back when your MOT is up?

Of course not and it is much the same with our job - if a client is doing something inefficient e.g poorly planned remuneration or even wrong e.g should be VAT registered then this should be adressed now.   

 

 

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04th Aug 2011 11:14

overly critical?

I have to say that i think that sometimes you get off lightly considering some of the queries you post.  The earlier one about what should you do as a client is not on your online list-did you really think anyone was going to come up with anything other than ring the helpline? 

You chop and change your mind about stuff, sometimes contradicting yourself in a matter of weeks-I have held off replying to many of your threads over the past year as did not want to appear unkind but commenting on common sense posts as "overly critical" has got my goat 

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By Monsoon
04th Aug 2011 11:47

I don't get it.

I really don't understand why taking on someone mid-year is a problem. Really, really don't understand. And yes, of course we take on people mid-year.

If it's just year end stuff, the professional handover is the same. Timing is irrelevant.

If it's bookkeeping as well, then you choose a cut of point, transfer that TB onto your own system and carry on.

It really is that simple and I honestly can't understand why there might be any difficulty whatsoever. In all my years as an accountant it's never even crossed my mind - what triggered this? I'm actually genuinely interested to know what you perceive as a problem here as I just don't get it.

 

 

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04th Aug 2011 12:22

What is the problem?

 

“I would be grateful for comments from other accountants on how they deal with taking on new clients part way through their year ie before their year end.

I have done this. I am thinking about changing this practice - wait till their year end. My concern is that client may move elsewhere. What is your experience?”

I have never had that experience because I see no need to wait. I would expect a client to think I was incompetent if I had to wait.

“The problem I have with taking on clients part way through the year are:

Trail balance is not provided by the previous accountant. TB would  be my starting point.”

It depends on what records the client keeps.

You would ask the previous accountant for the trial balance at the year, check it to the balance sheet and check it to the bookkeeping. If no bookkeeping you enter it on the extended trial balance.

“Far more work is involved in starting from the last year's balance sheet”

You only start from there if you need to. It depends on the records available. If the client keeps records in an accounts package or spreadsheet it isn’t more work. If the records are simply documents you would do a full year unless management accounts/VAT returns were prepared quarterly.

“I have done this now and will handle it. I am thinking about the future now. Do you take on client "in year" ? How do you deal with taking over from where previous accountant left?”

See above.

“I did not say I do not contact previous accountants as a standard procedure. Only where a client specifically ask me not to contact the previous accountant, this is where I leave it.”

If the client asks you not to contact the previous accountant then this is exactly when you should insist!

There really can’t be a comment that is OVERLY critical about this question!

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04th Aug 2011 12:22

Monsoon

Really good of to ask the why. This is because I did not get handover TB from previous accountant. I understand this would be a problem even at the end of the year.

My thinking was that the accountant may be more helpful with a clean year end break rather than mid year.

Overall comments about the thread

The fact others say I am incompetent does not make me one. IMO they can think what they like. They took the trouble to respond, which is good enough for me. I will let my client retention, client takeup and my PII premiums be the judge,

Please keep the comments coming. I will carry on asking questions stupid and basic questions. They will be a lot more of this. It is up to members to respond/ignore.

 

 

 

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04th Aug 2011 12:38

Wierd or what?

FirstTab wrote:

Really good of to ask the why. This is because I did not get handover TB from previous accountant. I understand this would be a problem even at the end of the year.

You get the last accounts, turn to the balance sheet and ask for the usual handover info. such as closing bank reconciliation, breakdown of Drs & Crs etc.

What is the problem?

Or have I been doing it wrong all these years?

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04th Aug 2011 12:24

it's a difficult question

because there is very little room for manoeuvre. The only way to avoid taking them on before their year end is to take them on on that very day.

Say you want clients with a 31 March year end.

You need to start your advertising or marketing campaign around January.

This is so that the campaign will be at its peak on 31st March.

Clear your diary for that day and make all your appointments on that day.

The next day is the 1st April, which is April fools day.

If you sign the clients up on this day, you will have missed the boat. You are then signing this business before their financial year end.

No, take my advice. Do all your appointments on the year end day. Far less hassle.

 

 

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04th Aug 2011 12:31

Reply in kind

I think Tony has the right idea!

Answer a silly question with a silly answer.

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04th Aug 2011 12:43

Same old same old, you ask a daft question and then get defensive about the replies given and try to play the poor me card " i will continue to ask stupid questions" and then finish off with " I am not stupid and doing ok thanks"

 

Well no one on here called you stupid, so you need to stop defending that imagined slight and consider why people get exasperated with some of your posts

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04th Aug 2011 12:56

@FirstTab

I am thoroughly confused now.

It appears that you are now saying you have tried to get information from the previous accountant, but they were uncooperative, and therefore you are questioning whether it is better to have a handover at a year end, rather than mid year, because the outgoing accountant may not be prepared to hand over bookkeeping, payroll, VAT, etc.

Is this the case? Your question doesn't mention any of this. It is really frustrating for us, when we have to guess what is behind the question, and I imagine very frustrating for you too, as we are answering a different question to that intended.

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04th Aug 2011 12:53

two sheds

I have not said anyone has called me stupid. I said stupid questions. You do not have to read or response to my post - just move on.

I am not getting defensive. That is your thinking not mine,

 

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04th Aug 2011 13:07

last word from me

First tab, i was not quoting you word for word, you accused people of considering you incompetent, which I don't think anybody has, I was reffering to your attitude and  way of handling the responses (to most of your threads)

As I said earlier i have not responded to any of the other 1100 odd posts that you have made so I am quite capable of "moving on".....today, your phrase "overly critical"  (which i see you have since edited) pushed me over the edge!

 

 

 

 

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04th Aug 2011 13:09

Defensive?

"The fact others say I am incompetent does not make me one. IMO they can think what they like. They took the trouble to respond, which is good enough for me. I will let my client retention, client takeup and my PII premiums be the judge,"

You don't think the above is defensive?

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04th Aug 2011 13:15

Contradictory

"The fact others say I am incompetent does not make me one. IMO they can think what they like. They took the trouble to respond, which is good enough for me. I will let my client retention, client takeup and my PII premiums be the judge,"

You really have to make up your mind. Above you give the impression you think you are not incompetent. Below you give the impression you think you are.

"I think I am terribly  inefficient and also need to improve my skills/knowledge with the client takeover process from where the previous accountant left."

http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/anyanswers/process-taking-over-new-clients-where-previous-accountant-left/515255

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By mumpin
04th Aug 2011 13:52

Its official...

[removed by mod - reported post]

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04th Aug 2011 13:57

Really?

[removed by mod - in response to above]

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04th Aug 2011 14:07

Nonsense

Most people will have the same views if there is a right way to do things. If FirstTab doesn't know how to deal with handovers from old accountants most people will give the same advice.

It's only unusual people who are going to see it differently.

 

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By frankie
04th Aug 2011 14:59

Will it be you ?

[removed by mod - continuation of above]

 

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By Flash Gordon
04th Aug 2011 13:53

My take

The way I see it is:

1, If you take on clients only at their year end you'll lose loads

2, Taking on clients only at their year end won't make any difference to the fact that you'll still need the handover info from the previous accountant

3, If you're doing the bookkeeping etc you'll have to start when the client wants (within reason)or they'll find someone who will. They should have the bookkeeping info up to the date of you starting or the old accountant must provide it - there should be no need for struggling to recreate anything

4, If you're only doing year end accounts etc then the sooner you have the handover stuff the better - so that you can make sure you have everything complete, so you know what to expect from the client and in case it throws up anything that you need to address with the client before year end.

 

If your problems are stemming mainly from the previous accountant not giving you a TB (and I'm assuming this is a regular thing and not a one-off) then changing when you ask will make no difference. (If anything waiting until year end will be worse because they might have already spent time preparing for year end if the client hasn't warned them!) You need to be looking at how you're asking. Are you sending a 20 page letter of requests? Are you sending 20 one page letters because you keep remembering extra bits? Are you asking in the last fortnight of January? Most accountants will provide you with a TB at the minimum. Yeah some won't but we all have those. At that point you have to get creative with the last set of accounts and notes and whatever books they keep.

It would help if you could be more specific with the problem like Shirley has said, then we can be specific about the right thing in our answers??

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By vince8
04th Aug 2011 14:35

[removed by mod]

[removed by mod - continuation of above]

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04th Aug 2011 14:46

Just wait

until FT requires assistance to keep up with his work.

Will we then get questions about how to supervise other people's work?

Ft is only the new Welsh Dragon in respect of tghe amount of time he seems to have available to use AW

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04th Aug 2011 15:32

not at all frankie

You will note   that my replies to  real technical queries afre in a positive fashion but pointing out potential pitfalls

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Reported posts

I have received several reported posts from this thread. I see no need to moderate at present, but I do feel the need to back up some of what has been suggested.

If you are confused by FT's questions, express your confusion if you have a genuine desire to help. If not, then please do not respond. And if you find that any member is not to your taste, don't forget we now have an ignore button which you are welcome to exercise.

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04th Aug 2011 16:26

Please Becky...

Becky Midgley wrote:

 don't forget we now have an ignore button which you are welcome to exercise.

Where is this button? I cannot find it anywhere. I am probably just being dim but a prod in the right direction would be most helpful. Thanks.

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04th Aug 2011 16:34

I've found it

nigelburge wrote:

Becky Midgley wrote:

 don't forget we now have an ignore button which you are welcome to exercise.

Where is this button? I cannot find it anywhere. I am probably just being dim but a prod in the right direction would be most helpful. Thanks.

You have to click on the person and it's then the hide comments button.

 

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04th Aug 2011 16:42

Many thanks Peter

petersaxton wrote:

You have to click on the person and it's then the hide comments button.

 

A certain person now ignored!

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By Old Greying Accountant
04th Aug 2011 15:50

Having read this thread, I think ...

... I've lost the will to live!

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04th Aug 2011 16:03

@OGA

We need a super-hero ....... where is Flash when you need him?????

He'll cheer you up and make you laugh again :)

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By blok
04th Aug 2011 15:58

.

Whatever happened to the dragon?  Was he barred from this site?

I liked him, he had some great things to say (some not so good) but alas he did go on a bit!!

FT, I did bring up a few weeks ago on a thread that you should go with your gut feeling a bit more and stop asking such basic questions.  You then had a go at me so I left it be. 

You are trading as a professional and a business adviser after all.

 

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By bduncan
04th Aug 2011 16:15

Better part wat through
I prefer to take on a client part way through the year. Preferably with the accounts soon to be done. This is because the billing point is the accounts finalisation, and the amount would be the same as if I had done the Prd, directors tax return and any free advice so more profit in the first year.

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04th Aug 2011 16:21

Why?

So your clients agree to pay the same amount for less of a service?

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04th Aug 2011 16:29

Why indeed?

Surely you are charging your clients for what work you do rather than on a time basis - I am confused or have I missed something here?

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04th Aug 2011 17:26

Really good that we have ignore button

What a response. I  will carry on as I am. There is now the ignore button for those who do not like my posts /questions. Some have used this already - that's good. I do not have anyone who I will ignore.

Thanks to all for responding. There is some good stuff on this thread.

Apologies CD/frankie you name was dragged into this. This is my OP.

Any further comments please keep these coming.

 

 

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By Old Greying Accountant
04th Aug 2011 21:14

Shirley ...

mis-read that first time, thought you were offering to give me a flash,

that would cheer me up :o)

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04th Aug 2011 21:30

@OGA

You would be disappointed! I am no Pamela Anderson or Jordan (sorry .... I mean Katie Price!) ... I'm more of a Nora Batty ;)

 

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By Flash Gordon
05th Aug 2011 06:23

Phwoarr!

I'll have you know that cardigans can be very attractive! (Though wrinkled stockings less so....)

In fact I'm tempted to say that Nora would actually be more appealing than either Pammie or Jordan / KP - more brain cells, 100% woman rather than solid bits of plastic, and probably far more personality (albeit a bit grumpy)! And as you can see from her picture she doesn't feel the need to pout for the cameras or be declaring undying love for a fella that she only met five seconds ago........

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By Top_Cat
05th Aug 2011 09:08

-

Flash you really should have gone to SpecSavers

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