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

Following on from the last post, here is the second example of how the incumbent accounting firm upset “Jeremy” the CFO of a major law firm (as if the first example wasn’t enough!)

Once the tender was announced, and the accounting firms invited to prepare the documentation and presentations ready for the selection panel, Jeremy noticed that the incumbent firm didn’t show much energy or enthusiasm for the process. When they came around to actually present to the panel they came up with a standard, average run-of-the-mill pitch. Nothing really stood out. Jeremy got the impression that they had already given up.

Ironically, in spite of the weakening relationship over the last couple of years, the incumbent firm still had the advantage of knowing practically everything about the law firm since they had been the auditor/adviser for the several past years. They knew things about the law firm that none of the other 5 firms could possibly know.

I get the feeling from Jeremy that if the incumbent firm pulled something put of the bag and had directly addressed the problems with the relationship they would have been in there with a much better chance. Also I was surprised to learn that the incumbent accountants had helped (and were quite successful) in referring clients to the law firm. In spite of helping the law firm grow their fee base it wasn’t enough to help the incumbent accountants keep their business. They needed to do their core job better. Just goes to show – accounting firms need to do much, more more to keep their clients happy. Being a “standard accounting practice” is simply not enough these days.

The other lesson here is to not give up. There is always scope and room to reinvent & strengthen the relationship you & your practice has with its clients no matter how difficult or strained.

In summary, the law firm they went with a big 4 accounting firm and the incumbent lost between $100 to $150k of ongoing work a year – not including special advisory projects. Quite a price to pay!

Catch you next post,

James E

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