More Than Just A Bean Counter!

Tuesday 1 June 2021

Written by Roy Butcher

More Than Just A Bean Counter!

More Than Just A Bean Counter!

I will never lose that excitement of obtaining an enquiry about our services. To set up that initial meeting, to be able to explore more about their business, to listen to their requirements, and to then build a plan of exactly how we can help! 

Unfortunately, so many enquiries are following a growing trend... a cheaper price! I receive more and more calls informing me that “we understand you have an expertise in our industry, we are confident that you can really help my business, but can you match a package advertised offering a full range of services for £150 + vat per month?” 

It is clear with experience that the simple answer is always, unfortunately not! 

We always strive to provide the best service for our clients and to achieve that, our service fee levels must be commercially viable. Fee levels set at the correct level, enable us to continue to do our best work, to invest in our staff and their expertise, and ultimately benefit our clients' businesses. At Raffingers, we strive to be as proactive as possible. We aim to work at the highest efficiency levels and to support with the latest up to date technical advice. 

Taking on a client at a loss-leading level of fee, will subconsciously not allow any firm to provide the level of support that we offer. The irony is that clients taken on at a loss, or more specifically clients that tend to provide resistance to fee reviews, are the ones where the clock gets watched more often! 

‘The Switch’ 

I’m glad to say that I obtained a new client recently and have really enjoyed getting to know her. I remember asking initially why we were meeting. Her answer to me was that she decided to ask herself 3 simple questions about her current advisor: 

  1. Are they being proactive, I just get the old numbers, what about the present?  
  2. Do they really understand my business? 
  3. Are they always available? Or do they seem to just contact me once a year with a bill?

It transpires price was always her main driver when she engaged with this accountant. 

The relationship between accountant and business owner is a very important one. Loyalty may be a reason to stay, but a business owner simply cannot afford any setbacks – especially where tax and compliance are concerned. I strongly suggest that you don’t just stay due to a cheap price! 

As a business owner, she has now shifted her perception of what she now requires from her accountant. She has accepted that the fees are an investment and views it as more than just “a cost”. Her answers during our meeting and her proven commitment, have really focused me as her advisor and made me aware that I need to strive to keep her core values of our relationship at the forefront of my mind, so I can continue to meet them! The correct fees set, allow me to do exactly that. 

Ask yourself, are you looking for cheap fees or an actual business advisor? 

Shockingly, statistics show that 20% of new businesses formed in the UK will fail in the first year alone, rising to nearer 50% within 2 years! There are several reasons a business may fail, but many of the risks could be reduced with the help of the right advisor.  

All business owners should, but will not always, consider the following key areas: 

  • A well thought out business plan 
  • Detailed analysis of your market and competition 
  • Strength of business management skills and support lines 
  • Business structuring and other legalities 
  • Full utilization of social media and online marketing 
  • The true cost of bureaucracy and regulation 
  • Cash flow forecasts and financial management 

No matter how strong a concept you think you have, coming across hurdles that your experience just doesn’t allow you to deal with, could cost you your business before you have even got going!  

Running a business can be a lonely existence and a struggle at times, therefore having someone who is not directly involved, but who can be objective and can ask the questions that everybody else is afraid to... is invaluable. 

An accountant should be more than just ‘a bean counter’, but someone who will also actively seek to take an interest in your business, to listen, understand and provide an objective opinion. They should not allow for obstacles to be put in front of your vision, but instead, help steer a course through the hidden dangers that being in business will inevitably bring. They should seek to help business owners achieve their goals by assisting to remove these barriers to performance, releasing the potential in your ideas and concept. 

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article or for any other tax, business and accounting advice, please email Roy Butcher directly at or click here to get in touch.

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