What do clients really want from their accountancy firm?
From filing tax returns to helping with long term financial planning and being the first port of call in a crisis, accounting is an incredibly diverse area to operate in. Everyone knows how it works - clients send in half a truckload of receipts, accountants fill in the right paperwork as required and then it’s goodbye until next year. But the fact is, if accountants only stick with the essentials they’ll actually be selling their clients (and themselves) rather short.
It’s all about demonstrating your value
As a skilled accountant you’ve got the bigger picture. If you simply sort tax returns all the time and not much else, you’re not really demonstrating your full value. This leaves you open to clients shopping around, and there’s not a lot of opportunity to build up a long-term working relationship. Clients really want someone who’ll go the extra mile, whilst still offering a good value service.
Repeat customers are essential after all. You want them to continue working with you, and to tell everyone else how great you are too. The trick is in offering more than they expect - and smile whilst you do it.
So what do my clients really want?
Fast and accurate tax returns is the first thing - obviously - but try to also put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Think what their worries are likely to be and what really makes them and their business tick. Look past the more obvious stuff and consider:
1. The ability to look ahead
Business owners are always thinking (and worrying) about the future - but as their trusted accountant it’s your job to assist them with longer term financial planning. Helping them to tackle big decisions is important, whether that be how to reduce staffing costs, how to make them more tax efficient, or how they can reinvest into their company.
2. Understanding Making Tax Digital
Whatever you think of it, Making Tax Digital (MTD) is here and assisting your clients with the transition is an important part of your work. They are likely to have misheard or misinterpreted certain aspects of MTD so you’ll need to clear things up for them. They will also have worries around which software to use, and the costs involved so make you’re able to boost their confidence in dealing with it.
3. Peace of mind
Whether your clients are start-ups, SMEs or larger more established organisations, they’re constantly juggling their responsibilities. This can be tiring and stressful, especially if financial matters are not your client’s strong suit. It’s down to you to take this pressure off them.
Ensure that the communication channels between yourself and your clients are always clear and open. If they know exactly what you need from them and when – and vice versa – then things are going to run much more smoothly. Clients will also then come to trust you and gain reassurance from what you say to them. They don’t need to know all the nuts and bolts of what you do, but by giving them peace of mind they can then get on with running their business knowing that the accountancy side is sorted.
4. Achieving real-time financial data
Business owners are increasingly wanting more control over the different aspects of their business, instead of just throwing everything your way and forgetting about it. This is where things like digital accounting software can be extremely useful, as a clients’ accounts can be stored in a cloud-based system, giving you both online access from any device. It’s a quick, efficient way of doing things, and will give both you and them a real-time snapshot of their current financial position. This in turn allows you to offer the most up-to-date advice.
5. Knowing of any tax law changes or guidance updates
A big part of an accountant’s day job is imparting their wisdom around what is currently going on in the world of business and finance.
Think of it as being like a translator. There’s a lot of jargon out there, and thanks to Google many of your clients will be able to look things up themselves - but many will still struggle. As their trusted accountant, you’ll need to be able to break down any jargon and describe legislation or guidance in a way that your client will understand. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds, but get it right and it will work wonders for your account/client relationship.
6. Understanding government incentives that will generate clients extra cash - like R&D Tax Credits
R&D (research and development) Tax Credits are a government incentive to help companies innovate and grow. It is open to all UK businesses, large and small, profitable and non-profitable, and essentially allows for them to claim a portion of their R&D expenditure back. This is done via a reduction in Corporation Tax or as a cash lump sum. As long as they have undergone work which involves creating a new product, service or process - or enhances an existing one - then they’re likely to quality. The key thing is that a technological or scientific uncertainty is addressed.
We’re not talking small change here either. SMEs using the R&D Tax Credits scheme can expect to received back up to 33 pence in every £1 of R&D expenditure - can your clients afford to miss out on this?
Find out more about R&D Tax Credits.
How we can help
Thinking a little more deeply about what your clients want is beneficial to everyone. They will gain a first-class business support system while you become the most valuable service provider you can be.
If you’re a business accountant who’s not sure about any aspect of R&D Tax Credits, speak to the team at Tax Cloud UK on 0207 118 6045 or use our contact form today. We can work alongside you in giving your clients the most accurate R&D tax relief information and advise you through their claims process.
Our handy Tax Cloud Portal for Accountants is a quick and easy way for accounting firms to offer a comprehensive R&D Tax Credit service, and was created by the experts at Myriad Associates. It even integrates with Xero and is a great way to attract new clients and boost your bottom line too.