Are fees all that matters?

There used to be a commonly held perception that the drive and focus of a firm of accountants is solely reliant upon the fees the partners generate. As long as everybody focused on fees, all will be well. Of course there is much more to building a successful firm than this.

This old perception is still commonly endorsed however by the traditional way that firms operate. It is a truism that a firm will get the behaviour that it is seen to record, to report and to reward.

This common focus on fees therefore follows because most attention is commonly directed to:

  • Recording chargeable time and fees billed;
  • Reporting new client wins and forecast fees that will flow therefrom; and
  • Rewarding the highest billers and best fee winners.

Of course increased fees are essential to the future of any professional services firm.But the future of a firm, of its reputation, of it’s attractiveness to the next generation of partners and of its credibility with its stakeholders, depends on much more than the fees generated each year.

What else gets recorded, reported and rewarded in your practice?

By |2013-11-05T08:53:02+00:00November 5th, 2013|Accountants, Productivity|

About the Author:

Mark Lee FCA is an accountancy focused futurist, influencer, speaker, mentor, author and debunker.


  1. DocEdge 27th October 2006 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    Great Post! It inspired me to make a post about consultant score cards.

    Best Regards,

  2. Roger 5th November 2013 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    I love the consultant scorecard idea. It seems to me that the constant focus on billable hours/fees billed is not far short of what happened pre-crash. People are so focussed on short term gains that the long term suffers. We, as a profession, need to refocus on what is really important – client service over the long term.

  3. Malcolm Sackman | North London Accountant 17th November 2013 at 11:22 am - Reply

    Focussing on time works; there is proof because 99% of firms do it. However, clients focus on value and try to maximise this by being attracted to lower prices.

    As disruptive technology kicks, the amount of time needed to do the work will fall (along with prices). And, so will the number of accountants needed to do the work.

    If accountants started to focus externally and focus on what matters to clients they have the opportunity to innovate new services.

    But, this is not easy and requires significant investment.

  4. David Lewis 10th October 2014 at 8:10 am - Reply

    Being a one man band, I have the luxury of only having to record chargeable time. I usually work on projects that are uncharted territory, so estimating can be very difficult. Charging on an hourly basis is the fairest way for both the client and I.

    However I agree that the client must feel that there is value for money.

    Being a one man band I have more flexibility than other firms. The pressure for staff to account for every working hour can lead to pressure to maximise chargeable time – I only charge time where I feel I’m genuinely adding value. I also will reduce my rate once the time exceeds a pre agreed amount. I also offer clients regular updates on the time (weekly if they wish) – so they can readily understand how time is being spent. Transparency is important.

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