What Clients Expect From Their Accountants In 2021

18th Mar 2021
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Modern business clients expect far more than a simple tax service. Now’s the time to go the extra mile.

A one-stop shop for all things business

Simply carrying out the usual duties of an accountant may have been fine twenty years ago. But nowadays, clients expect a whole lot more than just tax returns and chasing up receipts.

Here we look at ways you can go the extra mile, strengthening relationships and demonstrating your added value services - whilst still doing the day job.

Confidence and clear communication

Whether your clients are small start-ups or large multinational firms, this is a number one priority. Business owners want confidence that you’ve got their back, so they can get on with everything else.

Handling finance and tax issues is part and parcel of business ownership but it’s something most people have limited experience of, especially when they first start out. Clients therefore expect you to communicate complex terms to them in a way that’s easier to grasp quickly. You should also proactively keep them updated.

It’s true not every client will want chapter and verse on how you’re dealing with their company’s finances. But they do expect reassurance that everything’s up to date and should be kept in the loop.

To know the Making Tax Digital requirements inside out

Making Tax Digital has been around a while now and it’s no doubt something you’re well familiar with. But for many businesses it’s all still rather alien - and daunting.

It’s a piece of tax law that’s still evolving too. Currently MTD only applies to VAT-registered businesses with a turnover of £85,000 or more, but the expectation is it will gradually be rolled out to all, including freelancers, sole traders and contractors.

Whilst a number of your clients will already be actively following the MTD legislation, many will still look to their accountant to guide them through future iterations.

By way of taking a proactive approach, encourage all your clients to switch to an MTD-compatible system even if they don’t technically need to yet. By getting on board with MTD software early, your clients will become more familiar with the program’s capabilities and features. And it might well save you a headache later too.

Evidence of modern working practices such as cloud accounting

We live in a 24/7 world where people want access to their business data instantly and will look for accountants who use cloud-based technologies. Bits of paper floating around is rather 2002, and in an age of fast-paced technological advancement clients expect their accountants to have the latest software and modern-day accounting methods.

No radio silences

We nearly didn’t put this one in as you would think it goes without saying. But the fact is, if your clients can’t get hold of you quickly and easily - and often out of hours - they aren’t going to be impressed. In fact, many clients will vote with their feet.

Make sure there are as many channels of communication open as possible, including social media and video calling. Your clients expect you to be there; they don’t care if you’re on holiday or three staff members are off sick. Too many firms still get this wrong.

Regular news, updates and information

Your clients of course expect you to deal with their tax and financial affairs, but they will also consider you as a go-to source of reliable information. Whether it’s the fallout from the latest Chancellor’s Budget or a new piece of tax law coming into force, they expect you to know exactly how it applies to them.

Again, take a proactive approach here. You know your own clients better than anyone, so when something crops up you think will apply to them then let them know promptly. Also keep your firm’s website up to date with regular articles and topical points of interest.

Knowledge around where they can shave money off their Corporation Tax

This one actually leads on neatly from the point above.

No company wants to pay more Corporation Tax than they have to, and as a competent accountant it’s expected you’ll proactively reduce it where possible. There are a number of ways of doing this of course - company owners paying themselves a salary, boosting their pension pot etc. But we’re talking some of the lesser known reliefs here, like R&D Tax Credits.

R&D Tax Credits have been around since the year 2000 but far too many UK companies - and accountants - still haven’t heard of it. It basically works by allowing eligible companies undertaking qualify research and development projects to claim back a sizeable proportion of the costs involved; up to 33 pence in every £1 in fact. The main criteria is that a scientific or technological challenge was addressed, where the outcome was uncertain from the beginning.

Open to all companies in all industries, the award is administered by offsetting a company’s Corporation Tax liability. If the company hasn’t made a profit, it can claim the credit in cash instead.

There are several reasons why too many companies - particularly SMEs and start-ups - are missing out on this generous tax incentive. Some are concerned about the complexities of the application process while others are worried their record-keeping and/or HMRC enquiries. Many people simply don’t have the time or resources, or wrongly believe the scheme isn’t open to them. But in these turbulent economic times, it’s down to you to keep your ear to the ground and discuss your clients’ R&D plans with them. Even the smallest R&D Tax Credit claims can easily run into the tens of thousands of pounds - don’t let your clients miss out.

Read up on the R&D Tax Credits scheme on our R&D Tax Credits page, as well as our recent article 5 Excellent Reasons To Work With An R&D Tax Relief Consultancy.

Ready to offer your clients a more comprehensive accountancy service?

Myriad Associates has worked with companies and their accountants for almost two decades in making high quality R&D tax claims that work. Find out more about our team and why partnering with us is always the right move. You may even find R&D Tax Credits can benefit your own practice - and of course, there’s a generous referral scheme available too.

Send us a message or call us on 0207 118 6045 and give your clients the complete service they expect.