What Would Make You Decide To Change Accountant?
We recently surveyed our business contacts to find out what would make business owners most likely change accountants. The results were very interesting.
The most popular answer (23%) was ‘Getting more services for the same fees (like interim financials, help with budgeting, etc.)‘. This result did not surprise me, as I’ve suggested this to numerous business owners who have been using more expensive firms without getting any advice or help on the business.
In second place came ‘No charges for minor queries and travel‘ (21%). I’ve heard this complaint many, many times over the years. The accountant drops by to say ask “how’s business”, has a coffee and then sends you a bill when he gets back to the office! This is why, when I set up my own accounting business, I chose never to charge for travel and don’t start the clock as soon as I answer the phone. Some questions are simple enough to answer. Helping my clients with these are part of our ongoing relationship.
16% of voters wanted ‘A guarantee to get your accounts back quicker‘. I am aware that it is a common complaint about accountants who insist on getting your books and records early and from whom you don’t hear back for months. It’s especially prevalent in the bigger firms where you get allocated a “slot” the same time every year and it never changes – this of course is all about what suits them, not you!
‘Lower fees‘ and ‘No set-up or transfer fees‘ came next with 12 and 14% respectively. It shows that business value quality of service above price but are not willing to pay for things that should really come free – a rather reasonnable attitude if you ask me. I know of a firm of accountants in Napier which charges a $500 set-up for new clients. Not the kind of measure that is going to encourage them to leap on board, is it?
‘Regular visits where is most convenient to me‘ (12%) was another choice. OK perhaps a visit from your accountant is not something you’d really get excited about. However, having spoken to several business owners who were complaining that their accountant hadn’t visited them in years did concern me a little. One prospective client was recently amazed that I wanted to walk around his factory floor to see what happened in his business!
‘The quality of relationship matters most‘ was an answer suggested by one respondent. I most definitely agree with them that it’s important to use an accountant you feel at ease with.
‘Honesty & integrity‘ was also added as a suggestion by one of the people polled, and the one I considered the most worrying. I know there are, inevitably, some dodgy accountants out there but if you can’t trust your accountant why on earth would you be using him or her! Obviously this respondent had had a bad experience!
‘Loyalty‘ was not even included in the poll. Yet perhaps it is an important issue, as some business owners carry on using an advisor they’re unhappy with through blind loyalty (yes, I meet plenty!) and are too embarrassed to admit it!
If you need help to choose a suitable accountant contact Nick on 0800 ASK NICK or email firstname.lastname@example.org.