I’D NEVER HAVE THOUGHT that I’d be on the edge of losing a client for going the extra mile for him. Unfortunately though this is now a distinct possibility.
I have moved mountains for this particular client over the past two years. The fees have never been fantastic but it’s always been with the promise of better things to come. In truth it has got better, fees have increased since we started our realtionship and within six months they should have been hitting a level that is a fair reward.
The chances of the client still being a client in six months look slim at best at the time of writing. All because of this…
The client came to me last month and asked for advice on fixing a cash-flow issue within the business. I suggested that loan finance was preferable, but that he should consider selling equity as a last resort if a suitable partner could be found.
Knowing that he was unlikely to be approved by any lending house due to having no security to offer he asked me if I knew anyone who may be interested in investing in his business. I made the mistake of saying “yes, possibly”.
In good faith I put him in touch with a client of mine that had a bit of cash and was looking for opportunities.
Negotiations between the two clients actually began better than expected and both parties were making the right noises. A deal looked likely before the end of month, when cash flow was at its most critical point. As the weeks rolled on to month end however I began to realise that the investor client was getting cold feet. I was trapped in the middle of two clients, one desperate for me to make encouraging noises to the potential investor and the investor in the other ear telling me he has doubts about the target business, and even the trustworthiness of the owner.
Communication between the two parties tailed off as the deal deadline day approached and I was used more and more as he go-between. As you may have guessed the investor pulled out at the last minute, leaving a very sour taste in my client’s mouth.
I can tell he still blames me for it even though I did everything I could to get the deal to work. In the end though clients will do what they want to do and not even their accountant can convince them otherwise…
The Practitioner’s uncensored thoughts come from within their own practice – having left a regional firm in the heart of England
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Burnet is currently the head of KPMG’s Financial Services team in Scotland