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Easing the pain of uncomfortable money conversations with clients

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

· 5 minute read

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

· 5 minute read

While you probably got into the accounting business because you love numbers and helping people, there’s a lot more that goes into running a successful firm. Maintaining a professional office, managing staff, and dealing with clients are all important skills.

Unfortunately, when it comes to dealing with clients, accountants, bookkeepers, and other professional services, providers often encounter awkward situations, such as:

  • Correcting errors in proposals sent to clients
  • Chasing clients for late payments
  • Being asked to do out-of-scope work
  • Asking for payment for out-of-scope work
  • Commencing work without a signed letter of engagement

These awkward situations leave you with a choice: Say nothing and absorb the cost, or have an uncomfortable money conversation with your client.

According to Matt Kanas, Head of Americas at Ignition, “A surprising number of accounting professionals tell me their discomfort with these money conversations is often stronger than their desire to get paid. Nearly half of them would rather absorb the extra time and cost than risk losing the client.”

As you might have guessed, avoiding uncomfortable money conversations can impact the financial health and well-being of your firm. Matt goes on to say, “Most of the accountants we talk to admit that avoiding these conversations negatively impacts client relationships, revenue, and even employee morale. Our own research shows accounting firms lose an average of $76,636 each year for unrecovered out-of-scope work, and 44% say that staff are overworked as a result of delaying or avoiding having an awkward conversation with a client.”

It’s clear that avoiding uncomfortable conversations is not the answer. But according to Matt, “There is a way to avoid awkward situations in the first place.” By addressing the root of the problem with new ways of working, enabled by technology, you can transform how you run your business, to put an end to the need for uncomfortable money conversations.

Rooting out the causes of awkward situations

Matt explains, “Awkward situations with clients stem from a mismatch of expectations, exacerbated by a lack of clear communication. If you don’t clearly define what your scope of work covers, it can lead to awkwardness with clients down the road. Laying out your expectations clearly helps clients understand exactly what they’re paying for and when, so you and your client feel more confident about doing business together.”

Unfortunately, many firms still rely on manual processes, disconnected back-office systems, and legacy ways of doing business that lead to ambiguity with clients and time-consuming and stressful complexity for staff. For these firms, adopting newer, automated ways of accomplishing everyday tasks can help avoid most awkward situations before they happen.

For example, you can avoid proposal errors and misunderstandings by using an automated, repeatable, and integrated system for proposals. Ignition provides ready-made, customizable proposal templates with recommended services, pricing, and billing. This allows you to track when each proposal is viewed by the client and schedule reminders so you can proactively follow up. Integrations with top business applications let you automate follow-on workflows from the minute your client signs your online proposal.

You can avoid chasing clients for late payments by adopting a system that makes it convenient and automatic for clients to pay their bill. For example, Ignition allows you to set up any combination of billing options, from recurring payments to one-off fees and deposits. Clients can opt in to automatic payment collection from the moment they sign your proposal, so you can get paid before work begins or on a mutually agreed-upon schedule.

By making changes to just proposals and payments, you can avoid most awkward situations and plow the time saved back into serving clients. According to Matt, “Our customers report that they save an average of three hours every week on billing and invoicing, six hours collecting and reconciling payments, and have a proposal acceptance rate of 80%.”

It’s time to get more comfortable with clients

Matt concludes by saying, “Life is full of awkward moments. But your interactions with clients don’t have to be. Being clear on the financial details up front lets you pivot from uncomfortable money conversations to fruitful conversations about the work you’re doing for your clients.” With tools like Ignition, you can avoid awkward situations, eliminate uncomfortable conversations, and spark lasting client relationships.

Better together: Thomson Reuters and Ignition

Thomson Reuters partners with Ignition to streamline how tax and accounting firms win new business, engage clients, and get paid. From impressive online proposals to automated engagement letters and payments, Ignition frees you up to focus on helping your clients and leading your firm.

Learn more

Learn more about Ignition. Exclusive pricing for new Ignition customers is available through Thomson Reuters.

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