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Fewer clients can lead to more value

29th Nov 2013
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Accountants should aim to have fewer clients, for whom they provide more value for a higher fee, advised the founder of a global accountancy group.

Ric Payne, chief executive of Principa, debated the ideal client-accountant relationship with head of charity Emmaus Bristol, Richard Pendlebury and accountant Paul Scholes during our latest Exact video conversation.

Payne discussed the merits of having specific client selection criteria - the main element of which is working with clients who they can provide value to and in return, the clients recognise the value the accountant is providing.

“When you have that type of relationship - i.e. less clients, more value - as a result you end up building a much more robust client base, have a better life, more engaged team members, happier clients referring you to similar clients,” he said.

Payne used the example of an accounting contact, whose firm had 500 clients on £1,000 each. They found they couldn’t do much more for this than basic compliance work - so over time, they upped their fees to £10,000, added more services to their portfolio and each time they took a new client on at this rate, got rid of £10,000 of old clients.

He added that the impact that this has had on their firm and their client base has been “nothing short of amazing.”

Scholes added that ridding yourself of the constraints of timesheets, and providing more than the basic compliance work for clients means you can keep important relationships cemented - whether you see clients regularly or not so often.

And Pendlebury gave an overview of what kind of accountant he’d like his charity to work with: A proactive one.

“What we really need is a relationship,” he said, “This isn’t sending out some missive in an email on the latest VAT update. It’s dull, actually. And then there’s the meetings - you sit in a room and someone bangs on in a boring way about tax - a lot of us have not got time for that.”

“And timesheets, if you’ve got none, what a freeing up thing that is. If a client sees the clock going around like a taxi meter, then it’s a wrong relationship. What I’d really be interested in is our accountants phoning up and suggesting business ideas - I’d love that.”

Payne, Scholes and Pendlebury debated more tips and advice on the ideal client-accountant relationship during the latest video conversation - you can watch it here, and leave your views in the comment box below.

Replies (1)

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By malcolm141
03rd Dec 2013 15:51

Added value

I agree, the future for us sole practitioners who want to remaind highly profitable is better quality clients.


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