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Practice Excellence: Doing things differently

11th Oct 2012
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AccountingWEB caught up with the winners from the Practice Excellence Awards to find out the secrets of their success and why they think they walked away with the accolade.

Accountancy Advantage was crowned top ‘new practice’ for 2012 and partner Shahbaz Husain was on hand after the forum and awards to provide an insight into how they operate and explain how his firm does things differently.

As a key contributor to AccountingWEB’s Start up in practice guide published earlier this year, Husain said he found it a valuable learning experience hearing from others in the profession and passing on knowledge.

“The previous winners were present, which was really interesting,” said Husain “particularly as they passed on their knowledge and practical experience. Then there was the keynote speaker [Ric Payne] and his top 20 observations, which I found really useful and could start implementing tomorrow.”

He added he appreciated the fact that it was not just theory, but things Payne had learnt over 30 years of being in practice.

Payne’s strapline: “Clients don't care how much you know until they know how much you care” also rang true for the tax adviser. Husain said: “I think this is particularly important and actually feeds into a little bit of the kind of attitude that we've always taken with our customers. So it was nice to get confirmation of that.”

Having had time to reflect on winning the award, Husain explained why he thought his firm made it through the rigorous judging and client feedback processes:

“It's entirely down to what Ric said actually. We take each customer - note the way I say ‘customer’ and not ‘client’ because the customer is always right - and they get an account manager who deals exclusively with them on the account management side, which feeds into the more technical stuff.

“It's also about delighting the customer and responding quickly to their needs, being really proactive. I can't say that we win every time, but it’s our intention to do the absolute best.

The traditional accounting model rewards you if you do a really slow job “but nobody likes that,” he said.

On the firm’s pricing strategy Husain explained they have a fair fees policy: “Beyond that we don't charge for things that people resent paying for. So everybody's got practice insurance in case there's an investigation. Some people charge for that, but who likes paying for insurance? We don't charge for it, but we do charge for other things where real value is added.”

He said if they’re dealing with a tax consultancy, they charge on a percentage of taxes paid basis, which more than makes up for any cost of insurance.

“Nobody would resent paying for something that really adds value. Those are the things that really helped us move forward,” Husain said.

Finally he said most accountancy practices view bookkeeping as being a commodity and that anybody can do it. “We also view accounts production and tax returns as commodities. It's something everybody does and can do well. It can be done extremely cheaply inside the UK and outside, and I don't think there's any value added for that and I would charge for it based on that attitude.

“We don't make massive profits out of that kind of compliance work. What we make money out of is the value-added things that we do, whether it's a business plan, tax planning, or whatever. That's something else we're doing differently, and people appreciate it.”

Take a look at Accountancy Advantage’s blog post ‘We Won the 2012 Practice Excellence Awards!

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By TaxTeddy
14th Oct 2012 09:51

Gives me a warm glow

How nice to read of businesses new and old still striving to give a good service to clients - something which is often lost in these cynical times.

Well done all.


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