The Bstar 2017/18 Accountants Research Report, conducted in partnership with BT Financial Group, is based on face-to-face discussions with 600 partners and senior professional staff within accounting practices from May 2016 to February 2017.
The research found that a key objective of respondents is organic growth by attracting new ‘ideal’ clients.
Respondents are aware that merely developing or offering new services is not enough to attract new clients, so they are turning to referrals and industry specialisation to attract new clients.
The research found that personal referrals are regarded as a particularly strong source of new clients, with many respondents encouraging or directly asking for referrals from their existing clients.
It also found that respondents are aware that they don’t have to meet all their clients’ needs, and instead they focus on being their ‘essential’ adviser with a panel of trusted experts for additional services such as banking and finance, SMSF, human resources, IT, financial planning, legal advice, insurance and marketing.
These panels of experts can also become a source of mutual referrals according to the report.
“Our practice has strong relationships with two legal practices that specialise in estate planning services,” one survey respondent said.
“At our strategic planning retreat, we decided to change our policy in how we are working with our key centres of influence. Now we will refer clients to our legal partners who are actively referring clients to us.”
Another strategy many respondents are embracing to attract new clients is to pursue industry specialisation.
The report found that firms are leveraging their industry research and benchmarking resources, either in-house or in collaboration with industry experts to target new markets.
Some are also proactively developing unique solutions to assist in targeting groups such as industry associations and franchising groups, which helps them attract new clients through becoming a preferred partner or provider.
“I like [specialisation] because it takes you away from the compliance space, into the advisory space with clients,” one respondent said.
“That has a flow-on effect for the whole practice.”