Last year 30% of firms who were selected for accounting excellence awards, attributed their successes to firm-organised events. At such events, clients and accountants unite to connect on a personal level of which according to firms is contributing to their successes.
This probed us to research into the plausibility of client-accountant relationships, where we found many advantages of putting on a festive shindig for clients to attend this December.
Clients and accountants can be friends?
As the classic proverb goes, one shouldn’t mix business with pleasure. Yet for some small firms their accountant has been there for them from the beginning.
From the offset, SMEs have had a loyal accountant by their side who has protected their business from insolvency and submitted timely, accurate tax returns on their behalf.
Additionally, technological incentives are being introduced into the finance sector affecting the way in which tax forms are submitted, of which is encouraging SMEs to rely on their accountants even more.
According to Fintech, accountants have become “the new guardians of the UK’s SME economy” through providing their clients with consistent assistance and guidance.
Yet there’s a fine line.
A controversial relationship that occurred between Pamela Hartford, an audit partner at Ernst & Young, and Robert Brehl – the chief accounting officer of a public company (that Hartford was auditing) – incurred a 9.3 million pound settlement fine for Ernst & Young from The Securities and Exchange Commission.
Both client and partner exchanged inappropriate romantic relations– such as Valentine’s Day gifts and personal daily communications – and by result, their actions were deemed as severely inappropriate.
A statement declared “an auditor needs to be capable of exercising objective and impartial judgement on all issues encompassed within the accountant’s engagement”.
It goes without saying that with any professional relationships there are boundaries to maintain. However, the statistics are there to prove how engaging with clients on a social level is advantageous for both parties – see below for the advantages of pulling a Christmas cracker with your clients this Christmas.
Make personal connections
Tis the season to be jolly! Similar to how business owners organise end-of-year events to celebrate the efforts of their employees, you too can organise a similar occasion to celebrate business longevity (on behalf of your clients and yourself.)
An innovative accountancy firm in Cornwall, the Peleton recognises the importance of valuing their clients and goes the extra mile to maintain close working relationships. The firm connects with long-distant clients via video chat, organises regular client lunches every working day of the year, and throws end-of-year Christmas parties where their “clients are made to feel part of the work family.”
Socialising with clients outside of work hours is a great opportunity for you to show your appreciation for their business, acknowledge clients individually and develop relationships.
It’s also great for clients to have a moment to speak to their accountant face-to-face, where they can personally discuss their business goals.
For clients, connecting on a one-to-one basis with their “financial guardian” helps to develop trust, and provides reassurance, as they’re able to open up about any potential concerns they may have.
It also builds loyalty for accountants, so that clients won’t be won over by another financial practitioner any time soon.
Business owners often have valuable connections, as for some firms, that’s one of the driving forces behind their successes (and you are, of course.) This means that working the room at your Christmas party can open up doors for not just you, but for your clients too.
At events clients can connect and gain insight into the business industry, sharing tips and worthwhile advice. Additionally, clients can collectively sing your praises, discussing the advantages of your accounting services.
Deliver presents and be gifted with more clients
If Christmas parties may not be feasible for your firm, then sending gifts out or delivering them personally is a great way to boost your relationships with clients over the festive period.
Such gestures, don’t go unnoticed, and suggest to clients that you’re the type of accountant that goes the extra mile both on a business and personal scale.
This can then lead to clients recommending your services to others.
End the year on a high! Dropping by with a thoughtful gift will help to alleviate the stresses that may (have definitely) occurred throughout the December period – oh, the joys of the January tax deadline!
To conclude, the stats are there to prove if you do go the extra mile for your clients, by the likes of organising Christmas parties, then firms too will make an effort.
Linda Frier, owner of accounting firm, Coalesco cited a perfect example of this, whereby a client returned a completed tax-return form during a Christmas party: “We have people turning up with boxes to drop their stuff off.”
Have you ever hosted any events for your clients? If so, did you find this had an impact on your successes? Comment below with your experiences.