Accountants – how to really upset your client! (1 of 2)

Recently I had a coffee with a friend of mine who happens to be a CFO of a big law firm in Australia. As always to protect the innocent let’s call my friend Jeremy as in Jeremy Irons.

Jeremy had been unhappy with the accounting firm he was using for the last couple of years. So to bring the matter to a head he arranged a tender and invited 5 major accounting firms to bid and to keep things fair he invited the incumbent to also lodge a bid.

After a few weeks, all submissions were made and the “beauty parade” commenced. Of the six firms tendering 2 were stand outs, 2 were average and 2, as Jeremy succinctly put it, “were rubbish”. Their old accounting firm was one of the bottom 2.

I asked Jeremy why the incumbent firm had rated so poorly; was their a bias in his business that they had to change accounting firms no matter what? Jeremy had said no – the selection panel was more than willing to give them a fair go. However, in the period leading up to the tender and during the process the incumbent firm did themselves no favours. Jeremy shared the following two examples.

Example1:

Not long before the tender was announced Jeremy got a phone call from a senior partner in the accounting firm. The partner told Jeremy that another partner who was working on an important piece of advisory work for Jeremy was leaving their firm to join a competitor. Jeremy thought to himself well this isn’t good news but at least we’ll have a month or two to transition to another partner so the work can continue. Jeremy almost exploded in anger when the accounting partner told him, ” by the way … today is his last day” Jeremy was furious. He since found out that the partner doing the advisory work had resigned 3 months earlier and here he was being told that today was his last day! Jeremy considered the height of unprofessionalism and an incredible lack of transparency. Not a good look to say he least.

Tune into the next post to read example 2

James E

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