Steal a march on the competition

A number of accountancy firms are currently making serious steps to race
their way out of the recession. While the majority of their rivals are,
understandably, focused on current business these rare few are looking ahead and
creating a client winning edge.

Their aim is to come out of the downturn faster by marshalling resources and
better organising themselves to serve up timely and highly valuable service
packages that will satisfy future client needs. Such approaches are providing
the forward thinkers with strong platforms for business conversations with both
existing and new clients.

The first step these firms are taking is to bring together internal planning
teams that draw on a mix of disciplines. These teams are working together to
create services, products and business structures that will have more resonance
with the firm’s markets in the mid and long-term future. Typically the teams are
focusing on forthcoming changes in legislation and what the impact on clients
will be; changes to market practices and business attitudes to risk services
that, with a different delivery structure, can be “commoditised” to be more
cost-effective for the client; and contacts’ changing attitudes to client
service needs, adjusting the firm’s approach to better fit with the level of
service different clients want.

Already, these teams have led a small number of firms to create more
competitive fee structures for their services. It has also led a few to develop
practical “thought leadership” activities, which are positioning
up-to-the-minute expertise in the context of current and future market
conditions. Research, business guides, articles, expert commentary, toolkits and
products are being used to strike up business conversations with clients. These
are helping firms forge closer relationships with target markets and spot new

Some firms are also examining complementary dynamics in their client base and
bringing clients together for mutual benefit. In some cases this has prompted st
rategic business alliances, mergers and even clients investing in one another
when bank funding proves elusive.

The clients of these firms are grateful for the positive interaction their
advisers are making in their business and as a result are strongly loyal to and
supportive of them.

John Timperley is managing director of The Results Consultancy

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