Spring clean your clients

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Spring has officially arrived. Jennifer Adams welcomes the new season with some practical suggestions about reviewing your client base, and perhaps to clear out the old and bring in the new.

Most accountants’ lives are controlled by deadlines, so there is invariably little time to be reflective. But there’s a lot to reflect about: not only your own firm and its future, but also the client businesses under your care. After all, an expanding business can mean expanding fees.

AccountingWEB and its contributors offer up lots of articles and comments about how to expand your practice, but this article looks at your clients. Now is a great time to consider the service you offer them. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Before you start looking at what you could do to clients better, you should consider whether they are worth helping in the first place. That sounds crass, but some are not cost effective to run.  Decide which ones can be listed for clear out - after reading this advice.

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  • Clients
  • Companies
  • Practice processes.

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About Jennifer Adams

Jennifer Adams is Consulting Editor of AccountingWEB and is a professional business author specialising in corporate governance and taxation. She runs her own accounting and consultancy business with offices based in Surrey and Dorset.


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By S D
25th Apr 2014 22:39

Spring clean


Excellent summary / reminder to consider. Thank you.


Thanks (1)
28th Apr 2014 12:12

I prefer

to work with clients on an on-going basis and sort out any problems whilst doing the accounts. it not only shows the client that you know what is going on, it also lets you concentrate 100% on the client in hand, rather than generalisation.

Thanks (0)
28th Apr 2014 19:03

This is not a list of 'problems'...

.. it's a very useful checklist of points to consider.

You've obviously not read the full article John.

I cant see where the 'problems' are...

Thanks (0)
29th Apr 2014 09:57


Perhaps my terminology wasn't quite right. I should have said issues. However the point I was making is that in a business with a varied and say 200 clients the "problem" would be having the time to do a separate "checklist". My view is that if you are running your business correctly, not only would you not need a "checklist", all the above points become automatic when dealing with your client. That, to me, is what being an Accountant is all about.

I think the time is best spent with the client and their records rather than making "checklists".

Thanks (1)
29th Apr 2014 10:09

Not everyone is like you John!

... proof being that if you read the article carefully it includes links to comments made under other Any Answers and other articles.

There are also other points to consider - I particularly liked the 'bribery with wine' one and is something I had not thought about and will try... or maybe chocolates?



Thanks (0)
29th Apr 2014 10:38


(Would bribery help? One accountant puts the names of those clients who get their details in by a set date in a draw where the prize is a case of wine.)

Are you really sure Accountants should be going down this route? I don't think Mark Lee would even advocate a lottery to get records in on time. (sorry Mark).

Yes, I suppose I am different and very glad that my training made me what I am today.

My old bosses would've cringed at this article.

Yes I have read it carefully^^^^^^^^^^^ (that's me shuddering). 

Thanks (0)
29th Apr 2014 14:06

If I was infallible...

I would never need checklists, never be guilty of allowing scope creep, never have any clients who simply aren't economic to service, and never need once in a while to step back from the day-to-day work to check that things such as general practice housekeeping is on track.

I certainly wouldn't waste time reading postings in AccountingWeb because there would be nothing I hadn't already thought of.

... trouble is, I don't thing that I am infallible, so checklists, timely reminders and advice from my peers is actually quite useful, as is - once in a whie - stepping back from the day-to-day detail to make time to look at the big picture.

Thanks (0)
29th Apr 2014 14:30


Know where you're coming from, but doesn't all these checklists come more or less automatically to you when you are dealing with your client. Deadlines like 31st January, yes you will need a list of what you did last year to make sure you're up to date, but offering a case of wine in a lottery to get someones records in, beggars belief. 

How does that saying go. Look after the pounds and you don't have to worry about the pennies.

Thanks (0)
30th Apr 2014 17:35

I also appreciated the list...

... if only to be pleased with myself that I've ticked all the boxes!!

Thanks (0)
30th Apr 2014 18:18

Article bashing

Nice little reminder/article in my mind. I make extensive use of BTC practice management software so reminders and deadlines aren't an issue, but if I'm entirely honest I don't always get the chance to individually look at each clients position on say pension entitlement, auto enrolment, succession planning, copies of wills and detailed calculations of year-end changes. I also don't take time out to plan forthcoming seminars, courses, entertaining clients etc etc, it tends to be an ad-hoc thing.

I suspect that virtually everyone has something on the checklist above that they're not quite on top of, and if not then at least you should be able to think of something else related to it which you could be doing. If it's got you thinking then at least you've taken something from the article.

It seems that I'm not quite the master of everything that some other people seem to be.

Regarding checklists......don't virtually all the top firms use Disclosure checklists for their accounts, tax and audit jobs? As well as file clearance checklists etc.

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