[IMGCAP(1)]As a follow-up to last week’s column, here are some value-added benefits to consider when performing obligatory services such as an audit or tax return, or any work for a client.

Let the client know you are thoroughly familiar with their industry, so not only do you not have to learn about it, but in many cases can add to the client’s knowledge about financial statement presentation and reporting or tax benefits.

  • We have a relatively low staff-to-partner ratio, so our partners are hands on and relate and integrate with the clients, and are on top of the work.
  • We employ a team approach to client service. Regardless of the specific assignment, we have multidisciplinary meetings to discuss every client’s entire situation. This is a holistic approach that occasionally uncovers significant benefits for clients that more than offset the effort. Additionally this makes people throughout the firm with various specialties familiar with a client so that when changes in the client’s situation occur, we are ready to step in with the right people without a start-up period.
  • We look for weaknesses in our client’s accounting systems.
  • We help our clients become more knowledgeable about their finances.
  • We help our clients become more financially secure.
  • We train our staff to do the right things at the right time the right way.
  • We spend quality time planning our client’s work so that time is not spent on nonessential activities or those that don’t add value.
  • We never lose sight that what we do is for our clients and we must deliver value.
  • Our procedures are designed to have maximum effectiveness in an efficient way at the lowest cost to the client.
  • Because of our training, every staff person has backup and others can assist or step in when help is needed.
  • We establish fixed fees so there are no billing surprises for our clients. We carefully discuss the scope of what we will do, defining what the client’s staff will do and indicating ways our fee can be kept to a minimum.
  • We always show our clients the value to them of what we will be doing.
  • We immediately inform our clients of additional charges when there is a scope change and offer alternatives to getting that part completed.
  • Using us is a collaborative endeavor and the acquisition of a “partner” in our clients’ quest for financial empowerment and independence.
  • We look for opportunities to offer advice on tax saving and planning.
    We are proactive when a client proposes new ventures and we do not charge for initial meetings.
  • While our work is on past records to generate a financial report or tax return, we look for opportunities to advise our clients on how present and future activities can affect their business or organization going forward.
  • Our firm, like all firms, has our staff and partners attend substantial continuing education courses, but we choose programs that are directly related to our clients' situations and industries.
  • We join and participate in industry associations and conferences so we are on the cusp of what’s new and share what we learn with our clients.
  • We are recognized as thought leaders within our profession, and the benefit to our clients is the wide range of calls we receive from accountants all over the world keeping us aware of changing trends before they become evident or widely known.
  • We are knowledgeable in financing techniques and can assist clients in identifying needs or opportunities before they become crucial.
  • We have estate and succession planning, merger and acquisition, valuation, and state and local tax specialists who are available to assist clients should the need arise.
  • Our partners have a range of experience that can readily be applied to any client’s problems, issues or concerns.
  • We work for our clients, work hard, and create value.
  • Everything we do for our clients is important and will be treated with the care and attention the clients deserve and pay for.

This is not—cannot be—a complete list, but you can use this to help think about the benefits and value you bring to the client on every project or assignment you do for them.
Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner emeritus at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz (published by CPATrendlines) and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition” (published by the AICPA). Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or emendlowitz@withum.com.