The etiquette of accountant changing.

Discussion in 'UK Accountancy' started by Peter Jason, Mar 9, 2005.

  1. Peter Jason

    Peter Jason Guest

    Due to reduction in business, and general downgrading I want to quit my
    top-end-of-town accountant and settle for something more affordable in the

    Can someone help me with the correct procedure here?
    Peter Jason, Mar 9, 2005
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  2. Peter Jason

    DoobieDo Guest

    get a quote... including air fares ;p
    DoobieDo, Mar 10, 2005
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  3. 1) Find your new accountant preferably by personal recommendation from
    someone you know well.

    2) Tell him that you want to change accountants from (get him to insert
    suitable cost-efficient date).

    3) He will write to the old accountant politely asking him if he has any
    objections and your old accountant will grit his teeth and say "No I
    have no objection", and will then be as unhelpul as he possibly can for
    a month or two until everything sorts itself out.

    Troy Steadman, Mar 10, 2005
  4. Peter Jason

    DoobieDo Guest

    aka sent you a final bill and you've paid it...
    DoobieDo, Mar 10, 2005
  5. Approach your existing accountant and pour your heart out, saying you
    are downsizing and would he perhaps be able to recommend someone more
    affordable. Chances are one of two things will happen.

    1) He'll be glad to get rid of a low-profit-generating client and will
    be only too happy to put the business towards one of his ex-trainees.

    2) He won't want to lose you, and will simply charge you less by
    identifying one or two gold-plated features of his previous work
    which he will suddenly discover you no longer really require.

    Either result will be satisfactory.
    Ronald Raygun, Mar 10, 2005
  6. Peter Jason

    Tony Bryer Guest

    Or as a "top-end-of-town accountant" he may be relieved

    I started with a small local accountant who went through repeated
    mergers and takeovers to end up 10 years later as part of one of
    the top 10. They were charging me serious money (petty cash to them
    no doubt) and I kept thinking about changing but was reluctant to
    do so out of loyalty and "better the devil you know". The situation
    was resolved when they sent me a Dear John letter explaining that
    what they had been charging me as an old customer was well below
    (!) the proper cost and this could not continue, and I might find
    it more economical to move to a smaller local firm. .... which I
    did and halved my accountancy bill (partly because the new firm
    takes the QuickBooks figures on disk). Result, everyone happy.
    Tony Bryer, Mar 10, 2005
  7. And you wrote back pointing out that you're Tony, not John, and
    that for this reason and the fact that your bills seemed to you
    to be if anything well above what they should properly be, they
    must have sent the letter to the wrong person by mistake.
    Ronald Raygun, Mar 10, 2005
  8. Peter Jason

    Jon Griffey Guest

    Correct procedure is one thing but the best way to play it is something

    The following is generally the procedure in UK. I note that you are in
    Oz but it is probably a similar story there.

    Firstly, go and speak to another accountant and see what they can do for
    you and how much they charge, and most importantly if you get on with
    them OK. Of course make sure that the new firm are properly qualified
    (i.e. Chartered of Certified) as most firms have no qualifications and
    consequently no regulation etc.

    A personal recommendation is always a good start.

    Before you announce anything to the existing firm, make sure that you
    have got all your books back and have a copy of your latest accounts,
    tax return etc. A good excuse is that you are having a VAT inspection
    or you need to see someone about getting a mortgage.

    The reason for this is that you can get into disputes about outstanding
    fees and in some cases they can get childish and refuse to let go of
    books. It is a personal service that accountants give and losing a
    client to another firm, it can be hard not to take it personally.

    Once you have done this then a courteous letter to the existing firm
    saying why you are moving, e.g. business is slack, need to cut costs etc
    and thank them for their service over the years and giving them
    authority to disclose your details to the new firm.

    The old firm may then come back to you offering to cut their fees
    perhaps or to outline what it is exactly they do for you and how really
    their fees are good value.

    Give the new firm the nod and they will write the usual handover letter
    to them.

    Good luck!
    Jon Griffey FCCA ATII
    Hackett Griffey
    Chartered Certified Accountants & Registered Auditors
    2 Mill Road, Haverhill, Suffolk, CB9 8BD

    Tel (01440) 762024

    See website for disclaimers
    Jon Griffey, Mar 11, 2005
  9. Peter Jason

    Mike Lewis Guest

    I don't dispute any of that. It is good advice. However you don't say
    anything negative about the old accountant so I imagine they have always
    done a good job. They will think more of you if you face them and tell them
    why you are moving. Perhaps that's not important to you but it does seem
    more honourable to me.
    Mike Lewis, Mar 11, 2005
  10. Peter Jason

    Peter Jason Guest

    Many thanks for all replies.
    Peter Jason, Mar 11, 2005
  11. Peter Jason

    Jon Griffey Guest

    Very kind of you to say so Mike!
    That is a fair point. However what is most important is getting a
    smooth handover with the minimum of hassle rather than worrying what the
    old firm thinks.

    If the client says to the old accountant, 'look, your firm is sh*t, you
    charge too much, take too long and cock everything up' then they are
    more likely to be uncooperative.

    Often clients will move for personality issues which makes it even more
    difficult to be honest.

    Perhaps the answer is for the client to change firm and once it is all
    over to write to the old firm telling them exactly why.

    Jon Griffey FCCA ATII
    Hackett Griffey
    Chartered Certified Accountants & Registered Auditors
    2 Mill Road, Haverhill, Suffolk, CB9 8BD

    Tel (01440) 762024

    See website for disclaimers
    Jon Griffey, Mar 14, 2005
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