Ignoring the additional administrative burden that GDPR will inevitably put onto every accountancy practice, the changes also have the potential to help.
Having experienced almost total silence from anyone and everyone until the last couple of weeks, my inbox has been inundated (that is slightly overstating the case, but there has been a very steady trickle) with emails from diverse organisations telling me that unless I make a positive statement they will stop spamming me with effect from 25 May. Oddly, in almost every case, I don’t understand how they got my name in the first place. Therefore, to date, my reaction has been either to ignore the communication or actively unsubscribe so that my name is taken off their lists a few weeks early.
Oddly, only a couple of organisations with whom I actually wish to communicate have sent out this kind of email so far. I can only imagine that I will be the lucky recipient of hundreds in the next week.
I would be fascinated to know what percentage of accountancy practices have sent out their GDPR emails so far. The cynic in me suggests that this could be little more than 5% or 10% and only the very biggest, but readers may wish to prove me wrong.
In marketing terms, this could be a double-edged sword. At one end of the scale, all of those potential clients and contacts that we have been spamming for the last decade in the vain hope that they may be willing to offer a little business are likely to take the opportunity to escape our clutches forever.
I wonder how many practices have taken a wider view and considered a strategy to try and win back those that actively or passively say no. In many cases, these could be people that you met once at a conference and have no particular reason to value. However, some could be genuine prospects and, if that is the case, perhaps it is worth sending an email (while you still can) or getting on the phone to have a brief chat and see whether they might be willing to reconsider.
Looking at this project even more positively, whenever I make contact with clients and quite frequently with others, opportunities arise as a direct consequence. As I have stated previously, even if you call a client to settle a tricky fee query, there is a fair possibility that they will immediately give you an additional piece of work.
Therefore, while it may take up a considerable amount of time, contacting the clients and others whose business is really important at the same time as sending them the stock e-mail could bring lucrative dividends.
Most of us are looking for an excuse to contact clients rather than bringing them out of the blue. Perhaps the burden of GDPR could have a silver lining after all.