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How to grow your accountancy practice

November 2019

by Stuart Carswell

I recently wrote an article for Accountancy Age outlining the client benefits of accountants working closely with IFA’s, and how this can assist with growth within your practice.

You can view the article here How to grow your accountancy practice

Find out how linking with an IFA can support your clients and drive growth for your practice, with our guide in partnership with Pareto Financial Planning.

Routes to growth

 

Accountants focused on expanding their practice and improving the service they offer to clients have plenty of options of routes to adopt to achieve their goals. Advertising and marketing to reach new audiences is often at the top of the list. Recruiting talented individuals, especially those with experience and a strong client following, is another way to help propel a practice to fresh heights. In an era driven by technology, embracing and adopting automation can improve efficiency and thereby boost the bottom line. Technology also paves the way for accountancy firms to offer new services relevant to the digital age. Whichever path is taken, one thing is certain – firms that offer added value to their clients will have the edge over their rivals in today’s highly-competitive market. A new service line One area where accountants can gain an advantage, but which is often overlooked, is by forging a partnership with an independent financial adviser through an introducer arrangement. Business owners and entrepreneurs will, when seeking financial planning advice, initially turn to their accountants. Yet accountants often lack the expertise to provide this service in-house.

How many times have you been asked to suggest an IFA but have not known who to turn to? If you have done so, how many times have you received any tangible benefit from your recommendation? There is a way to achieve this – by inviting an IFA into your practice for an agreed number of days a week. They will be working with your clients and providing regulated advice, and you will benefit from the introduction. Bridging the gap by offering this service will provide an additional income stream and demonstrate a holistic approach to supporting clients on all financial matters. You will know they are receiving the best possible advice, and that can only strengthen your relationships with them while also helping to attract new clients. Consistency is key. If you are using multiple advisers, then different clients will get difference advice, outcomes and service standards.

The in-house IFA will also be able to highlight areas where your firm could add value to your clients by referring them for regulated financial planning advice. Areas could include reinvesting earnings and putting relevant cover in place. They will also look to refer clients back to your practice, for example those requiring audit or tax work, so it’s a two-way street. Bear in mind that those receiving advice from another IFA may, in time, be tempted to drift away to another accountant, so offering an in-house specialist can serve as an important factor in client retention.


Commitment to clients

 

Clients know that you and your IFA are working together in their best interests, to deliver a cohesive solution for their financial and accounting needs. As well as helping clients with their ongoing financial planning requirements, the added value of partnering with an IFA comes to the fore when they are preparing to sell their business. In such circumstances, there is no better way to show your commitment to a client’s long-term financial position than by having a dedicated adviser around the table when considering sale plans or succession plans. Sometimes, when entrepreneurs sell their companies, they bring the relationship with their accountant to an end. By working with an IFA, you will be providing them with a vital service before they embark on their next venture.

 


Managing the new relationship

 

It’s crucial to have an IFA partner who shares your client-focused approach and fits in well with the ethos and culture in your own practice. Smooth integration is key to success, and the process should begin as soon as the partnership is agreed. Your new IFA should learn as much about your practice as they can, so they understand your culture and can quickly become part of the team, present and available in your office and working closely with clients as well as on events such as seminars and workshops to showcase the financial planning offer. Manage the relationship through regular (we suggest monthly) reporting and meetings. The IFA has to be accountable, and the partnership should be constantly reviewed to find ways in which further value can be added to the advice and service proposition that your practice already provides.

You can adopt a ‘white label’ approach or alternatively integrate the service fully into your practice. Both options will demonstrate confidence in the IFA. Either way, clients should be made aware the service is provided by a regulated adviser. Once your partnership is in full swing, you can increase the number of days your IFA is present in your office, or even expand the service by bringing in an additional adviser. The model should be flexible to suit your needs, but in any event you will find plenty of benefits are to be gained across the board.

If you would like to know more about how an IFA introducer arrangement can benefit your business please contact Stuart Carswell on 0161 828 5157 or email SHC@Paretofp.co.uk

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