It’s commonplace in accounting that, if a client can do something in-house, it will typically try it. Much of your current workload may consist of cleaning up the books of clients who tried to do just that, while others on your roster may be thinking about switching to some DIY-accounting of their own. Obviously, that’s bad for you, but it can also be bad for them. It’s part of your responsibility as a financial professional to warn clients away from such a course, and it’s in your interest to at least occasionally remind a wavering client what you bring to the table.
It should go without saying that your major advantage is the years of accounting expertise you bring to the job. While any client could download a payroll app and try its luck with it, the education and experience you have to offer trumps the short-term savings of DIY-accounting any day. Imagine, for example, an Edmonton-based construction company that’s had a few good years recently, followed by a minor downturn. The DIY tax options it’s likely to use for this year’s filings probably don’t indicate how much of that downturn can be written off, or even where to start looking for the information needed to ethically claim such a complex deduction.
While it can be tempting to steer clients away from DIY with a blind-them-with-science approach, you might want to steer clear of arguments that paint them as ignorant or incapable of learning your trade for themselves. Instead, try to emphasize, as much as possible, the cost efficiency of the services you’ve already provided, as well as those you can provide if you stay on the team.
Another way to keep your clients on the straight and narrow is to offer value-added services. Consulting is almost by definition something your clients can’t do for themselves, so it makes an excellent add-on to your payroll-and-taxes package. You can also offer audit protection and representation before the Canada Revenue Agency if someone at your firm has the necessary certification.
In the age of information, clients are often tempted into a DIY approach to handle their accounting. You can bring them back from that precipice with a combination of common sense, professional-quality services, and enough extra offerings to make yourself irreplaceable.