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Level 6

Accepting new clients away from (Off-Boarding) another local bookkeeping company. What to ask for.

Hello everyone!


There are only a couple real reasons that an accountant receives a new client:

  • They opened their business and need a bookkeeper
  • They realized the benefit of someone else doing the books
  • Their bookkeeper is retiring soon
  • They do not have any books 
  • They found out they currently have a bad bookkeeper

The one I want to focus on is the last one, when they are changing from one company to another. It is bound to happen to us all, I am certain we have not been the best fit for all our clients, but I am interested to know what other accountants do when they are taking over a company file from another local bookkeeper?


As a growing firm in a smaller beach community, we have good relationships with a lot of our fellow accountants and bookkeepers and we want to keep it that way, so what is the best way to request the clients old existing data without offending?


Has anyone created a checklist of information to request such as company file and prior tax return data, and usernames and passwords for payroll and sales tax filing?


How do you establish who is responsible for what and up to when? For example, if the client is transitioning at the beginning of the year, who will handle the W-2's and the 1099's etc.  Should they close the rest of the year out?


QuickBooks Online makes these questions more interesting because we cannot start working in the file, until they have been notified unless we access the company file like a client which eliminates some of our powerful tools.


Any guidance on the best practices when offboarding a client from another local company would be greatly appreciated!


Matthew Fulton

1 Comment 1
Level 15

Accepting new clients away from (Off-Boarding) another local bookkeeping company. What to ask for.

I can not help you, I do not do clients, but I can think of so many what if situations for that scenario it is scary.  

IMO, you chould only take on that situation during the 5th to 8th month of the clients fiscal year.  Let the firm that made the annual accounting be associated with the federal and state filings.  And you should get a back up copy ahead of time so you can run a quick audit to see what if any problems there are, and whether or not amended returns are going to be necessary.


And if you do take the client on, I suggest you first burn his back up file to a CD and file it away as a CYA kind of thing against future audits.

the incomng client needs to prove to you that he is current in his fees to the losing firm.  In the old QB forum we saw several people asking how to get their file from the accountant when he refused to turn it over, almost always it revloved around the client being in arrears in his payments as the reason they were refusing.

The more I think about this the more I am certain that I would never use a "full service" accountant, where I was not in control of the accounting.

Have you considered having a get together of the local firms and bring this up?  Other professions certainly collude in different areas, real estate being the major one.

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