Professional Clearance

Multiple requests of information from new accountant

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When receiving clearance requests from other accountants, it recently seems normal for the incoming accountant to be backwards and forwards for information

We always respond in full to the previous accountants clearance request, but it seems a recurring theme these days that once the clearance information has been sent the incoming accountant usually seems to send multiple further email requests. Whilst we don't mind helping this can be quite time consuming. How do other accountants deal with similar circumstances?

Replies (14)

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By craigprickett
10th Jul 2024 14:55

I suppose it would depend on the nature of their follow up queries. It could mean that not enough information was presented in the first instance, in which case I would be looking at my procedure for handover.

Though I suspect that you are more aiming this at situations where you have already provided sufficient information, but the new accountant is either seeking clarity or has simply missed the relevant info. In that case, whilst it is a pain and is time consuming, I would always respond politely and in full. This industry is smaller than we realize, so I think it's important to leave a good impression on those you meet professionally - even if they are currently sitting on the other side of the fence.

Of course we all have our limits of patience though...

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By johngroganjga
10th Jul 2024 14:58

You seem to be dealing with information handover, rather than professional clearance, which is what your heading indicates. Professional clearance only requires one request and one response, unless the response discloses professional or other matters the recipient needs to be aware of.

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By lionofludesch
10th Jul 2024 15:29

Ask them if they would like you to act as consultant. Your fees will be charged at a huge sum per hour.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
10th Jul 2024 15:40

are you sending over enough detial in your initial handover?

I tend to do a written commentary on any issues which are likely to arise and ensure they haver ufll workings so there is no questions.

if you are just sending them minimalist data, then there would natually be questions. eg is fixed assets is one line, trade debtors are not listed out.

I essentially send what I would need picking up the file cold to understand the opening balance sheet and accounting policies.

I also send what I think they need, even if its not asked for.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
By lionofludesch
10th Jul 2024 16:00

Yeah - I sent stuff they didn't ask for too.

Sometimes you don't know what you need to know.

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By Paul Crowley
10th Jul 2024 16:14

There is one local firm that bugs me every time.
The others that I have dealt with have all been OK with my standard pack.

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By adam.arca
11th Jul 2024 09:20

I’ve had a few back-and-forths in recent years despite providing what I would like to think were comprehensive handover packs, the sort I would want to receive.

On the first follow up, if it’s a half sensible request even where I think the answer is already there in the original pack, I’m ok with responding. The next follow up, if there is one, I’ll provide the info but add a curt “we will not be responding to any further enquiries on this matter.” That seems to work.

I think the problem is that the model has changed in training offices and there are far too many accountants coming through who can’t think for themselves and expect to be spoon-fed everything.

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By Mr Sandman
11th Jul 2024 13:32

After fully answering clearance requests, there have been occasions when I sensed the new accountant was on a fishing expedition. Possibly to impress their new client by finding fault with advise & work completed, so they could claim compensation.

Although confident all work was correctly completed, this does cause unnecessary stress.

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By Dogracer
11th Jul 2024 20:56

Don’t lose a client in the first place?

Seriously though I am finding that certain boiler rooms don’t bother to send out clearance letters they just start acting

Maybe a quick phone call to understand the issue?

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By ianthetaxman
16th Jul 2024 10:08

We have a standard clause in our engagement letter, which is rarely invoked, but basically states that in the case of someone leaving, we reserve the right to raise a 'reasonable' fee for the provision of any handover information to an incoming agent.

The idea being that in nearly all cases, this is done at an admin level with no WIP cost being recorded, so there is no question of raising a fee. If, however, there are multiple requests that start to require more than some copy tax returns and accounts (as others have indicated), we can then politely go back to the new agent and ex-client, refer them to the relevant clause and provide a quote for the work required.

I have only ever had one client ask me about this clause, and we agreed that it would be amended to cap the maximum amount we could charge per person/entity, which we did and the client was happy with that.

I think as a profession we pride ourselves on maintaining a level of conduct and professionalism such that when a client is lost, we stoically undertake the professional clearance and info request work completely gratis, believing that the incoming agent would do the same and isn't going to take advantage of what should be a good natured, concise and professional back and forth. Not always the case it seems...

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Replying to ianthetaxman:
By Bobbo
16th Jul 2024 10:21

ianthetaxman wrote:

I have only ever had one client ask me about this clause, and we agreed that it would be amended to cap the maximum amount we could charge per person/entity, which we did and the client was happy with that.

Possibly means only one client has ever properly read your engagement letter!!

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Replying to Bobbo:
By ianthetaxman
16th Jul 2024 10:27

Quite possibly, and as I said, in almost all cases this is never needed, but having it gives a degree of comfort.

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By mkowl
16th Jul 2024 13:50

Just had this where you send the handover information, then they start the year end and some junior clearly has not read the file or information on their system asks questions. I usually put a sarcastic comment back - hopefully they get offended

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By Mr_awol
16th Jul 2024 13:53

What are you providing when you respond "in full"?

What type of information are they subsequently requesting? Duplicated info already provided, or new stuff? Is it the same stuff each time?

Is it something which is reasonable to ask? By that i mean are you one of these who try to avoid sending accounts/TRs etc because 'the client has had a copy' or omit the closing bank statement despite it being easier to provide it as part of the bank rec, because it's client data that the new guy can get from the client anyway?

For many years i used to send a paper handover pack. If i sent it all and they lost it, I'd maybe want paying to reproduce it. These days i send them a link to a portal with an expiration date of two weeks and tell them to download all they need. If they dont, or forget, i can easily reactivate it FOC but the main reason i time-limit it is to focus them into at least saving it down, and hopefully looking at it, at the time.

Ultimately however i provide latest accounts, tax return(s), TB, lead schedules, and important backing schedules. Basically everything the new guy needs. That way it's done and dusted and very unlikely they will come back for more. It's not overly complicated and i never could understand why people (ive only seen it on here, TBH, not in the real world) moan about sending the accounts etc - especially now it's mainly electronic so takes no more time and doesnt cost any more in terms of postage etc.

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