3 Great Strategies to Attract New Clients and Increase Fee Income

Accountants that continue to embrace the current period of disruptive innovation and adapt to the positive technological evolution will open up a number of exciting opportunities to grow their client base, increase their fee income and attract the best talent.

In my view, the three most noteworthy of these exciting opportunities are:

  1. Transitioning from compliance to advisory.
  2. Driving competitive advantage using technology.
  3. Differentiation through non-traditional recruitment.

Transition from compliance to advisory

Traditionally, audit and tax compliance services have underpinned the accountancy practice business model and acted as the main growth drivers. This is unlikely to remain the case in the coming years. Although compliance work is important and needed, it is not necessarily wanted – so clients invariably seek the cheapest options.

The compliance backbone of many traditional accountancy firms will remain. However, the rise of intelligent software – which is allowing more compliance processes to be automated – is empowering accountants to shift their focus from compliance work to more lucrative, value-adding advisory services.

Client relationships need to be deeply personal now more than ever. The closer you are with your clients, the better able you are to understand their challenges and offer visible expertise to satisfy their specific requirements. This focus on adding value as a trusted adviser – not just an accountant – acts like ‘client superglue’.

Positioning yourself as a trusted strategic business adviser with a vested interest in the growth and success of the business will allow you to deliver greater value, gain respect, and earn long-term loyalty that ensures client retention rates remain high.

Drive competitive advantage using technology

It is next-to impossible to predict the extent to which computers could replace human decision-making, and technology in the future will be very different to what we know today. I’m very much in the ‘technology will enhance, not replace, jobs’ camp.

It is likely that the majority of accountants will have adopted a ‘cloud-based’ infrastructure within the next few years. These accountants will not only be aware of current and emerging technologies but will be best placed to facilitate the adoption of Making Tax Digital (MTD) for their clients.

Herein lies the opportunity for competitive advantage; embrace technologies that free-up resources so you can spend quality time with clients, gain a deeper understanding of their challenges, and provide visible expertise for their specific needs.

That’s why it’s wise to invest in tech right now. The immediate benefits are obvious: removal of mundane data entry, analysis and general admin. And the long-term benefits – being able to drive efficiency, spend more quality time with clients and deliver a better service – will reap enduring rewards.

Differentiate through non-traditional recruitment

Keeping pace with technological change and offering visible expertise to sector-specific clients positions you as a trusted adviser and helps to differentiate the practice.

Equally, the recruitment of non-traditional staff will assist in establishing a unique offering and setting you apart from the competition. Three examples of employees who could add value to your practice include:

  • Tech or System Specialist – A cloud advocate, well acquainted with the third-party app market to supplement core technology platforms. They will be familiar with how CRM systems operate and able to integrate these tools with one another.
  • Client Services Manager – An account manager, experienced in liaising with clients and building relationships. They’re the client’s initial point of contact and act as a problem solver, proving particularly useful in relation to client retention.
  • Commercial Thinker or Business Development Manager – A businessperson with an aptitude for strategy. They will have hands-on experience of how best to navigate the evolving landscape and grow the practice.

You may already have staff that function in these ways, but there is a lot to be said for employees with dedicated roles. A Client Services Manager, for instance, may encompass some of the roles that you perform. But investing in a dedicated account manager for your clients allows you to delegate tasks and focus on developing deeper relationships with your clients.

At this stage in the evolution of the accountancy profession, you are presented with at least three opportunities for development. Early investors in the above strategies will appear more relevant, develop trusted relationships and extend their client life cycles considerably.

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