Accounting firm new client checklist: what accounting clients want

With the rise of new technologies and changing client demographics, accountants are under pressure to deliver services in new and innovative ways. 

Long gone are the days of simply crunching numbers. Clients now want a greater range of services, including specialist advice and faster, more responsive support.

This guide will demonstrate how you can appeal to new clients by:

  • Taking time to get to know them
  • Responding promptly to queries and correspondence
  • Being proactive and planning ahead
  • Offering value-adding services
  • Demonstrating tech savviness

How client expectations have changed

These days, people are used to ultra-fast services from every provider they deal with, whether it’s banks, eCommerce retailers, software companies or accountants. We live in a digital age where new technologies constantly enter the market to challenge traditional, manual methods.

As a result, accounting clients expect you to keep up and provide services that satisfy their ever-changing needs and demands. According to research by Sage, 87% of clients now expect more flexibility and better service levels from their accountants –– without paying more. 

Trying to juggle client expectations while running a profitable business may seem almost impossible when looking at these numbers. However, when onboarding new clients, it helps to know what they want and how you can tailor your service to make them happy.

Below we’ve listed an accounting firm new client checklist you can use to make sure you hit that sweet spot of meeting their expectations and making a profit. 

1) Take the time to get to know them

When signing on a new client, take the time to get to know them and their business. Conduct thorough background research about the company and whatever information you can find about your client. 

Schedule regular meetings or use a cloud-based accounting software so you can work with your client in real-time. Using modern software also means you prevent paperwork from piling up and reduce the risk of any errors. Your client will also appreciate the more frequent insights into their business.

Running a small business can be time-consuming and hard work, so your new client will undoubtedly appreciate a fast and straightforward way to share relevant information with you.

2) Respond promptly to correspondence and questions

Small businesses tend to be quick and agile when dealing with inquiries, so they’ll likely expect their accountant to be the same. If your new client feels like you take too long to respond to questions and other communication, they could take their business elsewhere. 

No matter how small their business is, your clients want to feel valued. Therefore, it’s crucial to stay on top of client correspondence and respond promptly when they contact you.

Automation offers a golden opportunity for you to deliver a responsive service without needing to expand your team. Automating processes allows 54% of accounting firms to provide faster service, while 43% say it directly improves client service and satisfaction.

Investing in the latest technology and digitising services will allow your firm to stay competitive, reduce workload and exceed client expectations. 

3) Be proactive and plan ahead

To really wow your new clients, take the previous point one step further by offering your services proactively. Regularly review their financial situation and assess if there are any ways you can help them grow their business or save money on tax or overheads. 

Business owners always think and worry about the future, and it’s your job as their accountant to help them manage their finances to reach their goals. Proactively dealing with your clients’ accounts shows them that you work hard to make their lives easier. 

It’s important to help your clients tackle big decisions about reducing costs, being more tax-efficient or reinvesting in their company. If you can find and share new methods to help them avoid potential problems before they happen, your client will thank you for it.

4) Offer value-adding advisory services

Another crucial point on the accounting firm’s new client checklist, which has become a common demand, is to offer services that reach beyond the numbers.

Advisory services have become such a big part of accounting that 82% of clients want their accountants and bookkeepers to advise on their finances and accounting technologies. Whether it’s managing cash flow or implementing the latest cloud accounting technology, your clients will likely turn to you for advice, support and knowledge.

Since clients clearly need this service, it’s not surprising that 63% of accounting firms actively train or upskill their employees to take on client management and business advisory roles. 

Therefore, embracing this new trend will empower you to deliver better customer service and enable your firm to increase revenue by as much as 50% in some cases. Including advisory services in your offering is a tremendous commercial opportunity and will impress your new clients. 

5) Demonstrate tech savviness

The Millennial and Gen. Z generations are twice as likely to start their own business than older generations. While these clients may have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, they need accountants to act as advisors and help them understand their business’ finances.

As such, they also expect you to keep up with modern technology and leverage the latest solutions to deliver in-depth insights. They are likely to be reasonably tech savvy themselves, so will be looking for seamless processes as well as more detail on their finances.

Remember that clients see you as an expert, so you’re responsible for keeping your skillset up-to-date. There is a wealth of resources online to educate yourself with, such as specialist blogs, short courses or webinars. 

Brushing up on your digital savviness will help you meet new client expectations and improve your own business efficiency simultaneously, so it’s a win-win. 

Help your clients save time and money

Countingup’s free accounting software has been built specifically to help practices manage self-employed and sole trader clients. While your clients get an excellent value business current account with in-built accounting software, you can save your practice time on manual admin. 

Countingup helps your clients keep organised records so that you receive structured data in real time. The MTD-compatible software enables you to review and manage accounts efficiently, with direct access to clients’ real-time organised data. 

Find out more here.

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