Service – Fee Pressure

By Nick Hastings

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I talk to accounting firms every day.  We usually talk about their most valuable resource first, their people. The discussion then moves to processes, unique practice rhythms and how technology is influencing their business. However, through hundreds of these conversations something is always present, a deep constant. Even when great firms are achieving revenue and customer growth there always seems to be a hand on the ankle trying to pull them down, the hand named "Fee Pressure".

Competition, the availability of information and resources, along with new commercial modeling, has led to professional accounting services being more accessible than ever before and the adage of the "family accountant" is becoming rarer, with clients constantly jumping ship for savings. This often leads to quality being jeopardized and when firms are picking up a new client they often come with "messy books", clean up required and initial expectation re setting.

How are successful firms combating this?

Simply focusing on SERVICE. By being able to deliver a more genuine service across multiple revenue streams at a lower cost and of course by doing this, offering more quality financial advice. Helping build wealth.

People: The first step is to give the power back to those people in the firm that deliver service and outsource the rest. The value is in the insights that data can provide, not getting the data input.

Process: Your outsource solution now needs to be an extension of your business. If this partner doesn't have the right governance, performance or process models in place with the required experience in delivering results then your service will suffer.

Technology: Take it to the cloud (as much as possible) and ensure your firm, and your outsource partners, aren't just getting sold another widget. Speed and quality of service is amplified by the ability of your technology. A partner that can help stitch the digital fabric of your firm together makes all the difference.

As I’m sure you’re aware, clients are crying out for attention and fee pressure is only compounding the problem. Many of the firms I speak to tell me "there's just not enough time in the day". Well, there can be. You just need to reclaim it by finding a partner that will help deliver outcomes not just sell you a service…


About me: My last 10 years have been dedicated to understanding international business and how to drive cross-culture innovation to deliver outsourcing results across multiple geographies including North America, Asia and Australia. The bulk of my time was based in the Philippines and I now focus on helping Australian firms and the businesses they service get more from their people, process and technology investments.


Sean Fanning