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How do you disengage?

Have a client who I really want to be rid off

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We have one client who we really would like to offload. Every year they leave the accounts to the last minute, just before Christmas. How can we get rid of them, tactfully. I don't want a complaint to our governing body.

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By Crouchy
21st Apr 2020 09:08

simplest thing to do now is blame coronavirus .....its forced you to re-evaluate your practice / life - you have reviewed your workload and decided to ditch some business that doesnt fit with your future plans

or just be honest, they are are last minute and it doesnt suit your style of working

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By goldriver
21st Apr 2020 09:11

Why not tell them that you are unable to continue their accounts and tax because they leave things to the last minute which causes work flow issues. Ask them to let you have the information by a certain date otherwise you are unable to act for them going forward.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
21st Apr 2020 09:19

If you have had enough, I would just do a "its not you, its me" style letter.

Most people like that dont know they are jerks.

I just pick something credible that you can say, even if its "we have reviewing our client numbers, and in order to give best service we are having to reduce our client numbers, and have selected your file as one of the clients we would ask to find an alternative accountant" [obviously this doesn't work if you have a massive advertising splash or are clearly taking on loads of new work!]

Id give a longish time limit of 6-12 weeks to find something new, and then drop 'em hard when they haven't bothered to move.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
21st Apr 2020 09:24

Do you want to get rid of them or just want them to bring their books in earlier ?

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By 0098087
21st Apr 2020 09:29

I want them to go. They are not nice people and they are the type that would complain.

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Replying to 0098087:
RLI
By lionofludesch
21st Apr 2020 09:37

0098087 wrote:

I want them to go. They are not nice people and they are the type that would complain.

Complain ?

About what ?

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By 0098087
21st Apr 2020 09:54

Complain to the governing body...

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Replying to 0098087:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
21st Apr 2020 10:05

If they have no grounds to complain, then they wont get too far.

If the do have grounds, then sort out the issues and grit you teeth for 12 months and dump next year.

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Replying to 0098087:
RLI
By lionofludesch
21st Apr 2020 10:08

0098087 wrote:

Complain to the governing body...

Quite.

About what ?

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By SXGuy
21st Apr 2020 09:25

Be prepared for some clients to beg to not let them go though, ive had a few, just stay firm.

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By Robert Hurn
21st Apr 2020 09:40

You'll find that it is like trying to dump and ugly girlfriend, they keep coming back, but stand firm and eventually they'll appoint another firm. If undertaking their bookkeeping the optimum time is after preparing a VAT return giving them 3 months to find a new firm

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Replying to bobhurn:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
21st Apr 2020 11:32

Maybe that could have been phrased better ...

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Replying to bobhurn:
boxfile
By spilly
21st Apr 2020 13:23

Or maybe that should be a boyfriend with BO? Please try and keep casual sexism out of this forum.

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By Calculatorboy
21st Apr 2020 09:43

Concur with that
You're restructuring practice and will no longer have capacity to deal with their affairs. Thank them , tongue in cheek, for engaging you over the years and enclose copy return and usual stuff the new accountant will need.

If you then get a professional enquiry later , you say you no longer are acting and that all relevant info was sent to client and your rd ords are archived . If they want further copy there will be a charge.

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By Louise76
21st Apr 2020 09:50

Send your standard disengagement letter (template from your governing body).
Opening paragragh states that following a review of our business you can no provide services to them. Do not respond to further correspondence from them other than to deal with matters directly stated in the disengagement letter (handover to new accountant/ return of records etc). Its the end of a business contract, you are not breaking up with a girlfriend, you do not need to make it personal

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By Cardigan
21st Apr 2020 10:06

If you want to be rid of them, then you need to get rid of them. Don't give them an ultimatum to bring in their books early, because they just might!

We recently let a client go as they never did anything we asked them to do and we could see lots of trouble down the line in terms of unpaid taxes etc.

We sent a short email and attached our official disengagement letter.

"It is with regret that we are writing to you today to confirm our resignation as your accountant as of XXX.

Due to the recent problems and delays with receiving information to complete your accounts and tax return, it has come to our attention that we’re not a good fit for each other. As a result of not receiving the information on time, we are unable to schedule our work properly and we cannot give you the same service as we do other clients.

We would like to thank you for working with our team over these past few years and wish you all the best in the future."

I got an email saying something like, I thought this was coming!

Then he proceeded to ask questions and could I do "one last thing" (actually two last things). I ignored them all.

Best of luck! You will be relieved when they are gone.

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Replying to Cardigan:
RLI
By lionofludesch
21st Apr 2020 10:15

Nice wording, Cardigan.

It throws all the blame on to the client without actually saying so.

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Replying to Cardigan:
bike
By FirstTab
21st Apr 2020 11:19

I like this since you are being open and honest.

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Replying to FirstTab:
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By Cardigan
21st Apr 2020 11:24

From experience, I think the key is to be honest. You can't argue against the truth.

In a previous practice, we tried to get rid of a dodgy client by trebling their fee and they stayed! It only proved how dodgy they were.

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By Paul D Utherone
21st Apr 2020 11:16

If/when you send your disengagement letter make clear to them that you have advised HMRC that you are no longer acting so any queries should be addressed directly to them (the now former client) and not you. Also remove them from your HMRC Agent list so they don't get automatic letters from HMRC saying "...we have sent a copy to 0098087 as you agent..." or similar.

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Replying to Paul D Utherone:
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By 0098087
21st Apr 2020 11:33

They always complain. I wish they would just go.

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Red Leader
By Red Leader
21st Apr 2020 11:52

"I have come to the conclusion that my firm is not able to provide the service that your affairs require. Please note that we are no longer acting as your accountant with immediate effect. I will of course be happy to cooperate with your new accountant so that the handover is as straightforward as possible."

List outstanding work, deadlines etc.

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By cbp99
21st Apr 2020 12:37

Just a reminder to refer to your engagement letter/TCs, which may a) say something about a notice period (21 days in our case) and b) have something about deadlines for bringing records, a clause that OPs' client may have breached, which could be referred to in the disengagement letter.

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By Peter Bromiley
24th Apr 2020 09:39

Double her fee. Let her know in advance this will happen if you end up doing a last minute job for her again. And remind her of this when she brings the records in late - and get her to agree to it.
Then if she pays, she's worth keeping. And if she doesn't, you'll say you can't act for her anymore. You'll get over the guilt.

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Replying to Peter Bromiley:
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By 0098087
24th Apr 2020 09:44

It's not just the last minute..it's the whole package..

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Replying to 0098087:
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By Cheshire
24th Apr 2020 11:03

Just bite the bullet, do it right now, dont waste any more time on it. You will feel better the minute it has been sent.

Ive tried hiking fees, they keep paying, but as you already know, sometimes all the fee in the world doesnt make it easier to deal with them as clients. I just made sure I didnt do it at a pressure point so they had no reason to complain. One begged me to stay working for him, but I had to stand firm.

Cardigan's response is a good one, you might want to add a line or two from others.

Please do come back on here by 5pm tonight and say that you have done it!

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By indomitable
24th Apr 2020 10:19

Why get rid of them, if they are a pain just significantly increase your fees to cover the trouble they are causing. Double your fees.

Most leave if the fee hike is significant enough. Some stay but the increased fees certainly compensates you for their trouble.

Also let them complain to your governing body so what? You don't have to work for clients if you don't want it's not compulsory

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Replying to indomitable:
RLI
By lionofludesch
24th Apr 2020 10:43

indomitable wrote:

Why get rid of them, if they are a pain just significantly increase your fees to cover the trouble they are causing. Double your fees.

There's a level of trouble which cannot be covered by money.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
24th Apr 2020 11:30

I agree. I made this mistake once, the client accepted the higher fee and continued to be a right pain. Just not worth it.

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7om
By Tom 7000
24th Apr 2020 10:46

Hello
We have been reviewing the work needed to complete your annual accounts and tax return and just to let you know the fees for completing next years tax return will be £600+vat. I appreciate this is a substantial jump from last years £200+vat, but I thought I would give you ample warning. As Ido appreciate times are difficult during the covid crisis I have attached a standing orver for £70/ month to cover the fees for the return. This should help during these troubled times

Keep safe

My very best wishes

Yours

tom and co

... That should do it.....

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Replying to Tom 7000:
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By 0098087
24th Apr 2020 11:27

There's a small amount owing to us..so going to wait for that..or 30 days..

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By Truthsayer
24th Apr 2020 12:06

There is no need to be tactful or to lie about why you are dumping them. Just tell the client that they are more trouble to deal with than the fee justifies, and for this reason you are resigning. You are just telling them the truth, and they will have no grounds to complain to your governing body or anyone else. I've sacked three PITA clients over the past two years using exactly this approach, and I'm glad I did.

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