CRM: ‘The future of accountancy’, says 2020

John Stokdyk
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Customer relationship management is the latest technology to promise a competitive edge for ambitious practitioners, according to the practice development experts at The 2020 Group.

Consultants from 2020 including Gordon Gilchrist, Chris Frederiksen and Kevin Salter have developed a reputation as enthusiastic early adopters of practice technology. Having championed the paperless practice in the past, they continue to look for tools that will help accountants complete their work “faster, better, cheaper”.

As delegates at 2020’s spring conference in Coventry on Thursday 6 March heard, CRM is the logical next step.

Gilchrist led the charge in a three-way presentation with 2020 managing director Ian Franklin and Damien Greathead, representing the group’s US wing.

“If you’re increasing your number of clients, you’re going to need software to manage them. CRM is going to be huge,” predicted Gilchrist.

“If I’ve got 500 clients, it can be a nightmare and I’m going to need technology to help me deliver...

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10th Mar 2014 15:45

is it only me

or is the suggestion that as the adviser we should send out three truisms ('spam'?) in order for the client to 'pick up the phone' missing the point.  If we keep in good contact then opportunities will arise....receiving a continuous stream of email/letter correspondence does not guarantee any response other than delete 

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By fca101
10th Mar 2014 22:14

2020 Spring Conference.
I agree. This article was a snap shot of a three hour presentation and john has focused his article on CRM. The article refers to me as Ian Franklin and mis quotes me in the use of "Software Consultants".
The key message was that accountants should be discussing the future with clients and not just the past. 2020 are passionate about helping accountants talk about the big issues of Profitability, strategic planning, tax planning, asset protection and retirement planning. Why? Because we have asked over 10,000 clients what they want their most trusted adviser (us!) to talk to them about when helping with their compliance services and since we are (in my view) the best placed to advise on their future then we should aim to satisfy our clients needs.
At this conference we recommended a variety of ways to do this, from meetings, writing a letter, telephone conversations and emails, CRM is just a tool to help manage our communications with clients and is no substitute for a close professional relationship.

Ian fletcher, DIrector 2020. AKA Franklin.

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10th Mar 2014 16:04


you're not.

I'm a 2020 member and I receive a continuous barrage of SPAM, sorry marketing literature from them, ranging from their products, to conferences to (me) selling insurance to clients!

probably 4-5 emails a month.

Not impressed.

I'm only in it for the CPD ;)

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By fca101
11th Mar 2014 11:20

@kent accountant


Dear Kent accountant,

Firstly thanks for being a member!

Yes we agree we send too many emails to our members, the trouble is we have so many seminars, conferences and free webinars running that we want to tell you all about them. We really try to keep it down to one per week an a maximum of two marketing emails.

Every time we run a CPD webinar you will get an invitation, reminder, log in details and confirmation emails (that's 3 emails!)

We are simplifying this but feedback is that our members like to be reminded before a live webinar, some of them insist we call them to remind them also.

In view of your comment I will canvas all members again about communication (sorry it will be another email!) and let you all know what the feedback is.

Best regards

Ian Fletcher 


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10th Mar 2014 16:44

I presume the

'three truisms' have not encouraged you to pick up the phone and find out more....

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10th Mar 2014 17:14

Drips on people?

Greathead wrote:
“If I have a system in place that drips on people on a regular basis, that’s going to make a lot easier when it comes to higher level conversations,”

e-mails that "drip" on me at regular unrequested intervals tend to find themselves automatically headed to the deleted items folder. Clients are not rock formations to be worn down by a steady process of attrition. Anyone thinking that this is a way of forming good relationships really doesn't understand how real people view regular unsolicited e-mail, even from someone they work with.

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10th Mar 2014 18:02

I have been a 2020 member on and off

They get a lot of commission/fees by doing what they advocate ... selling as many of their, or their partners, services as possible.

I was once told by a supplier that the 2020 fees for pushing (oops, I meant 'recommending') their products/services to 2020 members were pretty hefty, but it's just hearsay as I have no proof.


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By fca101
11th Mar 2014 11:07

Shirley M

Hi Shirley M,

2020 derives most of its income from memberships, conference, seminar and webinar attendance fees and some of our own products. When we run conferences or seminars we charge exhibitors an attendance fee. Generally this ensures we cover our costs and enables us to offer regional seminars free to members and conferences at a discounted prices. Think of it as the "ITV Model". Without advertisers there would be a lot fewer conferences. 

These days we are very selective about who we partner with. For example I have spent 5 days working with Tower gate Wealth Management getting to understand Auto Enrolment and ensuring their offering meets our members clients needs.  

Yes we take commission from some, but not all of our exhibitors. It is more important that exhibitors offer the best possible deal to our members. In some cases we do not charge exhibitors attendance fees because they may have a compelling product or service we believe attendees should know about or they are start ups with a really innovative product or service.

We love training accountants and promoting cutting edge products and services that give our members an edge over their competitors.   

Best regards

Ian Fletcher.




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10th Mar 2014 20:33

Well, sort of

@justsotax - I did find out more about the 20% commission which could be earned by being an introducer for a well known insurance broker.

Main idea was to get 20% off my own premiums - didn't like the look of the small print in the agreement so took it no further.

@ShirleyM - 50% commission to introducers on insurance policies isn't unheard of.


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11th Mar 2014 09:30

Apologies to Ian

I used to work for someone with the name I typed - so I'm afraid my fingers must have reverted to old habits when transcribing your talk. Please accept my apologies for misidentifying you, Ian.

I did also insert the word "software" before consultant when editing the contemporaneous notes I took. That was an assumption/in-line clarification on my part that has now been removed.

Whoever the consultants are, they will need to be conversant with the CRM software to add new fields and report to them - although often someone with a working familiarity with the user guide could probably achieve the same end.

There was no way I could condense the full presentation into a manageable summary, so I did a common journalistic thing of picking up the thread that sounded new and interesting and concentrated on that.

The topic appears to have attracted some interest and I think you made the case for CRM very robustly - particularly in the video interview we did. But we have also seen that some practitioners are still wary of some of the more advanced CRM techniques you advocate. So I think it's a good debate to bring on to the site.

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11th Mar 2014 12:33

CRM is not a technology it is a customer focused work ideaology.  If you treat it as a mechanised process that is led by software then you get hacked off / spammed off customers.  You do not need software technology to do CRM, it just helps.  Focus on the client and the message, not on the mechanics.

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By Rhodri
14th Mar 2014 14:05


Your quite right the CRM ideology needs to be established first, if you are considering software to assist, then your current processes need to be mapped any weaknesses identified and a picture of how the CRM software will work for you moving forward created. Failure to do this will end up costing a lot of money on a system not fit for purpose, and 'goodwill' not only with your clients but with your employee's. You will also need to factor in the cost associated with maintaining two separate databases, both the CRM and your practice database will need maintenance, an integrated solution is always the best option.

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