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Five Ways to Get CAS Clients

by Hitendra Patil | Jan 13, 2020
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CPA Trendlines conducted a survey in June 2019 entitled “Client Accounting Services: Trends, Issues, and Opportunities.” More than 8,000 accountants responded to the initial survey, of which 90 percent were decision-makers at their firms. Among firms currently offering client accounting services, 88 percent said CAS is “important to the firm’s future,” including 64 percent who “agree strongly.”

This survey is the latest illustration that client accounting services are a must-offer, profitable new revenue segment for your firm. And if you’re already offering CAS, you might want to enhance it.

But one of the most common questions accountants ask is,
 “How do I actually get CAS clients?”

CAS-fit clients:
To find success in CAS quickly, you need to do some things right. One of those is to get CAS-fit clients. Here are five proven ways to get clients for your Client Accounting Services offering.

  1. You may not need new clients
    If you already have 20 to 30 accounting clients to whom you deliver at least monthly services, you don’t need new clients for your CAS offering. The best place to start is to select a few existing clients. You gain experience by offering CAS to them, optimizing your processes every step of the way.

    How do you select CAS-fit clients from your existing clients? Here are some hints. If you are repeatedly fixing clients’ messy books, that is a client fit for CAS at some level. If your client’s accounting staff has left or is leaving, you can pitch CAS. Does a client have part-time / freelancer accounting staff? You may be able to pitch CAS if the client is not satisfied with their accounting.

    Also, proactively seek referrals. Google reviews / testimonials can get you new clients faster.
  2. In-house to your firm
    Whenever a business owner wants to move accounting work from in-house (done by company staff) to your firm, it is one of the golden opportunities to pitch CAS. The very fact that the business owner felt the need to hire a professional accountant tells you some key things if you find that upfront.

    Reasons why the business owner is even thinking about moving that work to your firm may include specific pain points (e.g., regularly delayed financial statements), staffing challenges (bookkeepers don’t stay long), business growth (the owner does not have enough time, and the accounting work volume increased), or accounting complexity (only professional accountants can fathom). If you can identify the key triggers why the business owner wants to outsource accounting work, you can create an opportunity for your firm.

  3. Clients switching accountants
    It happens. Invariably, it happens for one or two key reasons. Again, find those reasons so that you know what the expectations will be. “Lack of proactive service” is a common reason. “My growing business needs more services” is another top reason why clients switch accountants. In most such cases, you will be able to offer CAS. And if the only reason why the prospect wants to switch is “pricing,” you want to be ultra-cautious to sign up such a client.

  4. Start-ups
    Start-ups funded by investors / venture capital are under pressure to deliver a return on investment. Almost all of their focus has to be on their business. To do so, they need insights from accounting. Pitch “basic monthly accounting” services to them. Then upgrade them to CAS over a period of time. Accounting firms are increasingly using this strategy now.

  5. Sunrise industries / professions
    The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes 10-year projections of the labor market. From the BLS website, you can download such reports for free. Identify the industries / professions that are projected to grow over the next decade – those are the “sunrise” ones. Pick a few niches from those and create some niche-specific competencies, and then niche CAS packages. Growing companies need professional accounting services.

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Hitendra R. Patil

Hitendra Patil is a director with AccountantsWorld. He was recently named to Accounting Today's list of 2019 Top 100 Most Influential People in the Accounting Profession. You can contact him at hitendra@hitendrapatil.com.

This article appeared in the winter 2020 issue of the Washington CPA Magazine. Read more here.

This article initially appeared in the Fall 2019 edition of The Statement, the member magazine of the Maryland Association of CPAs. Reprinted with permission.

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