These accountants offer a fixed fee service. Do you?

Let me be clear I’m not saying that everyone should or can do this. Simply that some accountants do it.

I was prompted to write this blog post after engaging with a couple of accountants on twitter. Here are their tweets:

Standing order mandates delivered to the bank. Get the customers paying in advance on fixed fee quotes. That’s the way to do it!

I do the standing order over ten months. They get January and February off. Then we negotiate next year’s fee. People like it.

Any extra work has the fee agreed in advance. Tax planning and tax credits on a value basis adjusted to actual when HMRC agree.

I think the two month post-Christmas payment holiday is a winner. Works for Council Tax!

@James_Hellyer

Every one of my clients pay monthly fixed fees in advance. Nobody ever complains. It should be the norm. It is with Broome.

It helps that we provide a Very Good Service!! backed with money-back guarantee

@BroomeAffinity

During some of my talks I often raise the concept of ‘fixed fees’ as one way in which accountants can reduce the time they spend on the billing process, improve their cashflow and reduce arguments about fees. Those who are implacably against the idea seem to feel that they HAVE to charge clients by reference to their timesheets.

Look. If that works for you, by all means continue. But do recognise that more and more accountants are winning new clients who want to pay a fixed fee for their annual service.  That’s irrelevant of course if your clients are happy, you’re happy and you’re winning new work that pays the fees you feel are fair for the work you’re doing.  The thing is that many accountants, who operate in what we might call ‘the traditional way’, cannot honestly answer ‘yes’ to all 3 of those questions.  What about you?

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Quote: January was hell – and it was my own fault

An accountant I was chatting with recently made this astonishing admission. I have to admit I was surprised by his honesty and self awareness.

Most accountants blame their clients for ignoring requests to produce their papers in good time to avoid a last minute rush before the 31 January filing deadline for personal tax returns. My friend acknowledged that with him it’s as much a question of priorities. Even if clients do supply their papers in good time he focuses his attention on meeting earlier deadline such as 31 December for 31 March company accounts and, before that, 30 September for 31 December company accounts.  I’ll bet his personal tax return clients wouldn’t want to hear this.

He told me that he incentivises clients to provide all their papers before the end of October each year. He doesn’t always have time to check that the papers are complete and sometimes has to ask for missing details when completing their returns in December and January.

I suspect that my friend is not alone. What do you think and what lessons can we draw from this situation?

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4Networking – have you tried it yet?

I was on Netski 2011 recently and met up with Brad Burton and the rest of the team behind 4Networking. It’s been around for over 4 years and is very different to the traditional structured breakfast networking popularised by BNI and BRX.

I checked out the website and saw that there are almost 300 4N groups around the UK. There is also an active online networking facility with over 42,000 members.

Yesterday morning I attended the 4N group meeting at Monument (London) and saw what a slick operation they run. ‘Slick’ but relaxed and informal. There was none of the forced referrals or the membership restrictions imposed by some other networking groups.

4N meetings have a number of clever features that almost guarantee you will have a good time.

If you are looking for a local (or National) networking group I would strongly recommend you check out your local 4N group. You can try it out for £10 – the price of your breakfast.

Full details here.

And just to confirm the value of networking, at yesterday’s meeting I met up with:

  • an accountant who started in practice under a year ago. Ex KPMG she gave me advice re my son who has just secured a training contract in the group she used to work in;
  • an old friend I met 4 years back though Ecademy
  • a business mentor whose wife is CFO of a multibillion pound energy company (I mention this as it’s a good reminder that you are never just networking with the people physically in the room)
  • a property investor and mentor who recommended a book, (authored by a US guy) that I need to read as it covers the same ground as one of my seminars
  • one of my new skiing chums from Netski 2011 – who presented a captivating and motivating 4sight session.

There were plenty of other interesting people there too.

All networking groups are NOT the same. Do try 4N. I suspect it’s a great way for local accountants and other professionals to build relationships and to secure new clients. NB: BUT please do not go to meetings with the intention of ‘selling’ and of winning new clients at each meeting. Networking does NOT work like that – as I’ve explained before on this blog.

PS: I have written a 10,000+ word book specifically for accountants who want to Network more effectively. Click here for full details>>>

If you would like to book me to speak on the subject at your in-house conference or training session, do get in touch. There’s an outline of my talk on ‘How to ensure your networking activity is successful’ here>>>  

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