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Charging for passing documents to new accountant

Charging for passing documents to new accountant

I am in the sorry position of having lost a couple of clients recently who have found someone even cheaper than me!  When I receive a professional enquiry asking for copies of prior year accounts, and tax returns, should I be making a charge to my outgoing client for this? Although it doesn't take long, if there are follow-up queries regarding account balances, etc, it can add up.  I have included a paragraph in my terms and conditions saying that I have the right to charge, but so far I never have.  What do you do in this instance? 


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14th Jun 2012 14:40

I don't charge and put it in the pro-bono bin because it's not worth the effort and possible ensuing aggro. 

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By Locutus
14th Jun 2012 14:44

If you belong to a professional body ...

Generally, you are not allowed to make a charge for supplying information to the new accountant, that they would reasonably expect to receive in the course of the transition of the clients affairs.  I think there are a few exceptions if you are asked to provide information not on your files, although I've never tried to charge myself.  It's generally not worth the hassle either with your former client or your professional body if matters go that far.

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14th Jun 2012 14:59


Again in line with regulatory bodies (and common sense) we provide all routine info that the new accountant will need free of charge, however, these days I tend not to respond too well to standard letters asking for the Earth and on a number of occasions I've said "information with client" (eg accounts, tax returns & comps).

Saves a bit of time if you respond by email.

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By taxguru
14th Jun 2012 15:08

We do not charge either, but recently a potential client queried if we charged, making it a condition for signing up!!!!!!!!!

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14th Jun 2012 15:10

Agree with Paul

You do sometimes get the the list of every conceivable question from some standard template.  I tend to reply that I am enclosing all the information that the new accountant needs, not necessarily what he may have asked for.

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14th Jun 2012 15:27

£250 plus vat

Ha! That made you sit up!

No...same as others, just pass a reasonable amount of information over no charge.

I'm always interested and sometimes surprised by the response or lack of it I get from other firms.


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14th Jun 2012 16:25

Not as a general rule, but I maintain a list of agents who have charged in response to a request from me, and if I then ever get a request from them they get a matching charge! 

If I can I supply by PDF and email only, and only if the information is in their first request. 

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15th Jun 2012 00:16

Not worth it unless
Normally don't nother, it's better to build goodwill with other professional firms, and also to take high ground even if client is a PITA.

However if new advisor is being aggressive, or client has been exceptionally trying then on occasions I've played it by book - given what ACCA rues require plus a bit more for high ground, and tell them they can pay for the rest :)

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By newmoon
15th Jun 2012 11:34

Some of the contractor accountants routinely charge.

I posted this three years ago  where a client was charged to supply information to us.

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19th Jun 2012 11:14

we dont

I have only seen it once. Somtimes the clients come back and charging at the end may be closing the door

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19th Jun 2012 12:13

Don't charge but...

.... the problem we do get is when the new accountant writes asking for information when we haven't ben authorised by the (soon-to-be-ex) client to provide it. I just inform the new accountant that we don't have authorisation and leave it up to them to arrange it.

If it was a particularly important client we may use it as a reason to start a dialogue to persuade them to stay, but apart from one client who left because we charged extra for having to complete basic bookkeeping work (which the letter of engagement clearly made his responsibility) and one who left because we refused to do the the work unless he agreed to let us register him for VAT - he was way over the limit - most have changed because they've moved area.

The 'VAT' one was the only one where we had to write a screed under the 'any professional reasons why we shouldn't act' question pointing out the client's obligation to register. They would have picked up the issue anyway hopefully, but I didn't want to leave any wriggle room.

We normally provide a full TB even if not requested, because it makes it so much easier for the new accountant, and at the end of the day we are all professionals. (Most of us anyway!)

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19th Jun 2012 13:58

Which Regulatory Bodies don't allow a charges?

As far as I'm aware, the ICAEW allows a reasonable charge to be made on handover.  One of my new clients was charged £300 by a London firm for handover information/records from storage.

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19th Jun 2012 21:12

In case of ICAEW & ACCA

Pretty much identical rules in their "change in professional appointment sections"

From ICAEW Guide PDF:

You should provide the information and documentation necessary for another adviser to deal with transferring a client's affairs promptly and no charge should be made without good reason, such as an unusual amount of work involved. In the rare case of a charge being justified, you should agree it with the client in advance. Client's property should be passed over free of charge and you should not make any charge for retaining copies of the client's property for your own files.

Extract from ACCA's rule 210:

In order to ensure continuity of treatment of a client’s affairs, the former accountant shall promptly provide the new accountant with all reasonable transfer information that the new accountant requests, free of charge.


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20th Jun 2012 22:10

Thanks Paul

...the get out of jail card seems to be'....without good reason' - I'm sure they felt they had good reason to charge £300 :-)

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20th Jun 2012 01:51

They just dig a deeper hole

Bryan - one of those short sighted approaches where a firm just reinforces to the client that they made the right decision to leave them.  There is an art to losing most clients, always best to part company on good terms if you can.

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20th Jun 2012 09:24

I agree ....

I have lost (rather than sacked!) a grand total of three clients to other accountants in 12 years and 2 of them came back. Being nice costs nothing!

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