As your lunch is slowly devoured by AI, outsourcing or commoditisation you need to have a Plan B. In recent years the message has been about positioning your firm as a trusted business adviser and broadening the range of services and depth of engagement offered to business clients. Many firms are attempting this, but the question is whether it actually works for all. My feeling is that for the very small and smaller one-person practices (perhaps supported by a secretary cum assistant) it is a big ask given that they likely don’t have enough business clients that could require or want such services.
So, the few clients that may benefit won’t really move the needle much, perhaps 3 or 4 clients bringing in an incremental £5k a year. Not to be sneezed at but hardly a game changer.
Consider this instead. You have limited resources in terms of hours in a week, to put into driving more business so what if you thought out of the box and instead of being an accountant who chases small fees from many clients for a stressful existence, you pitched yourself as a virtual FD?
Clean out the bulk of your clients and work for a dozen or so firms half a day a week as a virtual cum in-house part time financial director cum credit controller cum management accountant. You are likely to earn substantially more than you are now for much less stress with a more satisfying lifestyle. In fact, many would describe it as a “lifestyle business”.
Think about it. Would you rather be chasing 150 clients for average fees of £500 , for jobs the clients do not appreciate (by and large) but feel must be completed, or invoice 10 clients each month for an average of £1,200? And they really do want you and understand what you bring to their business. Just being there is probably saving them tens of thousands in a full time salary. Everybody's a winner.
You’ll probably need to phase in such a change as your existing client profile is unlikely to be sufficient to make it work but done correctly it should be possibly over 12 / 24 months.
And the icing on the cake is that you could net yourself a nice tidy lump sum from the sale of the fees you divest yourself of. There are a lot of hungry young (and not so young) accountants out there desperate to snap up small fee portfolios.
So, what are you waiting for?