Cross-selling becoming “the holy grail” for accountancy firms

Cross-selling becoming “the holy grail” for accountancy firms

Offering more services is helping firms overcome challenging financial conditions

Cross-selling becoming “the holy grail” for accountancy firms

UK accountancy firms are increasingly focusing on cross-selling services to existing clients due to the worsening financial climate, according to Giles Murphy, head of professional services at Evelyn Partners.

“Clients are more willing to move around, so the more relationships you have with them, then the less risk you’re at of losing them,” he says.

Murphy points out that the worsening cost of living crisis, along with companies’ concerns about increasing regulatory and financial issues, is making people more receptive to advice.

“Ironically, lawyers and accountants don’t like a nice stable world out there because people won’t come to them for advice,” he adds.

Murphy believes that Evelyn Partners offering financial solutions, as well as accountancy services, enables it to have different conversations with clients – and gives it an edge over some rivals.

“Our target market is the fast growth entrepreneurial business, where we can advise the company and can then also help the owner.”

He also notes that the firm explores the personal financial needs of clients’ senior management, as opposed to just the needs of the business itself.

“We can have a broader conversation,” he says. “Hopefully, the client reflects on those meetings and sees us as more interesting.”

Focus on existing clients

But according to Clare Harrall, partner at Moore Kingston Smith, cost-effectiveness is also a key consideration for accountancy firms. It costs more to win new business than to better meet the needs of existing clients, she argued.

 “A client who engages you for multiple services is also more likely to stay with you for the long-term.”

Harrall credited Moore Kingston Smith’s client care programme for helping to build strong relationships and prompting regular conversations with clients.

“These touchpoints keep us abreast of trends in the market and the challenges our clients face,” she said. “We pride ourselves on developing the services our clients need.”

Broadening of skill sets

A prime example of this, she added, has been increasing the firm’s skills within environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.

“ESG is high up the agenda and will remain so because expectations of businesses have evolved to require a clear stance on these ever-important issues.”

Harrall also noted the increasing importance of advice concerning digital transformation.

We started to see more of a focus on digital transformation services pre-pandemic, which accelerated once lockdowns began and businesses were switching to remote working,” she said.

“To thrive, businesses must embrace at least some degree of digital transformation because we live in a digital world.”

Cross-selling often overlooked

However, according to Robert Bean, managing partner at Grunberg & Co, cross-selling is often neglected by accountancy firms despite having the potential to be “an easy win”.

“More often than not, it’s because staff are not properly trained or incentivised to spot opportunities and take action,” he said.

Bean explained that Grunberg has already seen the benefits of not only cross-selling, but also listening to clients and developing new services according to their needs.

“Seeing cross-selling as a two-way relationship makes the process seem more like client care, rather than a sales function.

“Clients no longer just see us as number crunchers. They are turning to us more regularly for insights and nuanced advice.”

Grunberg’s dedicated probate service, wealth management, and new specialist crypto tax department are key examples of this, according to Bean.

However, he also acknowledged that an influx of new business remains key for any accountancy firm in bolstering fee income.

“You also need a steady flow of new clients coming into the practice, or else you risk having a shrinking pool of work as clients retire, exit their businesses or move their services elsewhere.”

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