Types of Clients and why they change Accountants


This article is a light hearted look at the types of accountancy clients and what may influence them changing accountants…  Are you a Service Seeker, Misunderstood, A Prudent Purse, A Techno Whizz or Other…

The Service Seeker

This client wants a better level of service in general with quicker telephone or email response or wanting their Accountant to be able to answer quick queries by phone without a delay waiting for a call back. They will leave with a firm reassurance with service levels.

The Neglected

This sort of client just feels a bit neglected as only ever sees their accountant briefly once a year and has the perception that they are missing out on advice and areas for improvement where little innovation or care has been demonstrated for their business in particular. Perhaps they have heard rumours of grants and funding, support schemes, or areas of tax advice, and their Accountant has not mentioned these to them.  They will leave for someone who they feel will not neglect them but keep them up to speed on improvement areas and opportunities particular to them.

The Tick-a-long

Things have ticked along with the accountant and there have been a few things that have planted seeds of doubt in their minds but nothing serious and this client is happy to see how it goes up until the next year end.  Chances are they will continue to tick along until something attractive and special comes along or where they hear messages from business colleagues in the same industry who are getting better value, and where they feel it is easy to change.

The Devil-You-Know

This type of client is vocal about not getting on very well with their existing accountant and may even give examples of serious issues but has been with them a long time and will admit that they only stay with them as the “devil-you-know” even though they are certain they would be better off all round with a difference Accountant. Their main barrier is changing for fear that it will be the same with someone else and there would be an inconvenient period of getting to know someone else and even though they are certain they are paying too much in tax and fees they really can’t be bothered to think about changing and are resigned to poor value and service.  These people will consider changing after thinking about it for a while, where there is reassurance that the new accountant will quickly get to know their business, perhaps demonstrating specialist industry knowledge and offer a hand-holding service for change.

The Table Thumper

This client is vocal about their Accountant’s shortfalls, giving several examples of what isn’t good enough for them and it is only an amount of time before they change.  They will probably have already indicated to their Accountant that they want things to be difference and usually they are not looking for the lowest fees but better value for money. They will give their Accountant’s “one-last-chance” to change and will change if they let them down.  They will change if they feel there are better services on offer that are particularly appropriate to them and give best value for their circumstances.

The Serial Changer

This person isn’t a table thumper and may not even talk about changing with their accountant but who is on the lookout for an Accountant that meets their particular needs well. They might have not been in business very long but they know what they are looking for and will keep changing until they feel happy that they have made the right choice.  This person will change after going through their requirements in detail and being assured that their new accountant will deliver in line with their expectations.

The Slow-Payer

This client wants to change Accountants but is tied into their existing Accountant as they haven’t paid their last bill so is concerned that papers will not get released until they have paid up in full.  When they do settle the bill they will make arrangements to move to a different accountant.  This makes this client sound unattractive but sometimes it is because they have had a surprise with fees and have been unable to budget for it or their accountant hasn’t helped in the areas of cashflow management.

The Prudent Purse String

This type of client is happy to settle for minimum levels of service and is interested in saving money on fees. They don’t want bells and whistles just low fees and average levels of service and is open to suggestions on how they can do their bit to lower their costs.  They will move if they are offered a package to suit their particular needs at a lower than average cost.

The Unreasonable Cheap-Skate

This type of client will come across as wanting something for nothing and is not really prepared to compromise for lower fees.  They want all the bells and whistles without compromise at the lowest cost. They will leave if they feel that they have been duped into a promise of low fees by their existing accountant when they assumed something was part of the deal and it later transpired that it wasn’t and they will be keen to go through all fees and services provided thoroughly to make sure they don’t make the same mistake and will leave if they are reassured of this.

The Pro-bono

This client is looking for free work to be done, perhaps they are a charity or non for profit organisation and wants an accountant to do their work for free as part of the good cause. They will likely consider changing only if there is an offer of free work, even for a specified period or lower costs than can be obtained elsewhere or where there is considerably more value to be had in return for any fee.

The Affiliate or Networker

The Affiliate feels tied into their Accountant’s network and gets work via them Some times this is good value but other times the value is questionable considering the fees, and costs being incurred on balance with the work actually obtained.

The Family Friend

This client has been using a family member or friend to do their accounts but has got to the stage where they feel they need different professional assistance. It is unlikely that they will have a generous budget in place for fees but will consider the overall value and business case for change compared with other benefits such as specialist tax advice, proven track record in their industry, and possibly the option of moving things over to an accountant gradually.

The DIY-er

This client has been doing their accounts themselves with a small amount of support from their Accountant but is now looking to pass more or all of it to an Accountant. They will change if they feel reassured that the Accountant is the right choice for them.

The Bringing-it-in-house

This client will have been using an Accountant for everything since the start but now wants to bring part or all in house with just year end supported by an Accountant. Perhaps they have taken on staff or wants to do this themselves for other reasons. They will change if they feel the Accountant can support them with this in areas such as training and customer service support, with helplines and remote access.

The Location-er

This client wants the Accountant’s office location to be convenient in terms of travel time and parking and will move if their accountant moves and doesn’t provide adequate facilities or if they feel that another Accountant is more conveniently located.  They will not have considered other aspects of service, experience and qualification to be as important.

The Out-of-hours

These clients want good levels of support out of normal working hours including evenings and weekend working either for phone calls or visits.

The Come-to-me-for-free

This client has been uncomfortable going to their Accountants office when they need their accountant to come to them more often. They may have been charged extra or been made to feel an inconvenience by their existing accountant.

The Techno-Whizz

This client expects their accountant to be a lot more up with technology than perhaps they are and is looking for technically efficient ways to do business on a day to day basis.  They want to use things such as skype, twitter, instant chat, knowledge based articles, and wants a modern approach to accounting services.

The Chancer

This client will want their accountant to take more risks in the areas of compliance and will move if they feel that another accountant will be more “understanding” or accommodating. Quite often this can be more to do with communication and explaining consequences or opportunities rather than undertaking illegal or unethical accounting practises.

The Complicated

This client has complex accounting needs and feels that their accountant doesn’t understand it as they should or feels they are not getting the best service and advice because of this. They will change if they feel another accountant can demonstrate a level of understanding better than their existing accountant and show initiatives to improve the operations.

The Misunderstood

This client feels that their accountant doesn’t understand their needs in a basic way and feels that their accountant makes decisions for them that they don’t relate to and doesn’t understand but is unable to communicate properly with their accountant because of jargon and defensiveness on their Accountant’s part. This type of client will leave eventually through frustration with some who above all else is a good communicator who understands their needs.

The Disorganised

This client keeps meaning to get around to changing accountants but there is never a good time as things are far too disorganised to go to an new accountant with. They will change when they overcome their embarrassment and feel comfortable passing a mess onto a new accountant who understands they way they need to work.

The Software Cling-on

This client only feels comfortable changing accountants if they use a particular kind of accounting software. If they can find someone who uses that software but who also offers better value and expertise then they will leave reassured with the continuity of using the same software.

The Retirement Clock

This type of client has little interest in changing soon as they are almost near retirement.  They may take up consultancy services regarding retirement, selling their business or exit strategies and may change even if they have been with their accountant for a long time if they feel that someone else can handle this last final business need for them in a professional way or where they feel that their accountant may not do this as well in comparison. This can be especially attractive if there is a proven track record of exit plans executed in a similar industry.

These are just some of our own “labels” and I am sure there are others out there, so let’s share!

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2 Responses so far.

  1. Sonny Essman says:

    Hello,this is Sonny Essman,just observed your Blog on google and i must say this blog is great.may I quote some of the article found in the web site to my local buddies?i’m not sure and what you think?in any case,Thank you!

  2. Great article (which I found by accident on Google).

    Most clients have a mixture of several of the above traits. I think (and I may be wrong) that the 4 most important qualities are:

    - Make sure all work is done quickly and to a high professional standard
    - Give proactive tax advice to lower their tax bills
    - Be interested in your clients business & help them develop it
    - Be cost-effective – provide high quality service at a low cost

    These are the 4 objectives of The Hughes Partnership, and it’s certainly working as we are picking up lots and lots of new work and recommendations/referrals.

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