Client onboarding for accountants is the process of taking on a new client into your practice. It covers a wide range of tasks including getting agreement to a proposal, to administration with compliance checks, right through to operations with entering data into your practice management systems.

As with all processes, it’s important to ensure the client experience is positive because you will:

  • Reduce the chance of the client cancelling or changing their mind
  • Keep the cost of acquiring a new client to a minimum
  • Have more chance of increasing the average order value
  • Minimise the risk of non-compliance
  • Increase the chance of generating a referral
  • With so much at stake, it makes sense to invest time thinking carefully about the process and the tool that you will use to ensure your firm is as effective and efficient as possible.

The A-Z of client onboarding

The six phases of onboarding are:

  • Strategy
  • Opportunity scoring
  • Business conversations
  • Proposals
  • Compliance
  • Feedback

The strategy is about thinking through your ideal client profile, engagement framework, the essential technology you will use and client training requirements. Doing this enables your firm to focus its marketing better, articulate its value proposition better and to set expectations – all of this helps clients build confidence in your firm.

Lead scoring is the process of giving potential clients “points” based on various attributes; this could be the type of industry, company information or assessment of cultural fit. Scoring potential clients removes the emotion and will help your firm prioritise and allocate the appropriate resources.

In today’s highly competitive environment it’s important to differentiate your firm. You can do this by having “business”, rather than “service”, conversations with clients which encourage clients to talk through their problems and how they impact their business and them, on a personal level.

A business conversation is also an opportunity to discover what happened with the previous accountant to ensure your firm doesn’t repeat these mistakes.

By approaching onboarding in this way, your firm will be able to match its solutions to client’s needs in a compelling proposal. Once accepted, the onboarding moves into several checks before work starts including:

  • Anti-Money Laundering (AML)
  • Know Your Client (KYC)
  • Letter of Engagement

The key is to get through this process efficiently so that you can get feedback on the process and get to value delivery as soon as possible.

Accounting CRM is the natural place for onboarding

At FibreCRM we believe Accounting CRM is the natural place to onboard a client because the ‘prospect’ and client data is held in the CRM system from marketing activities and managed business development – this is why we built an onboarding pack.

You can set lead scoring and business conversation questions as compulsory fields in the CRM. Adding compulsory fields helps your firms maximise the return on business development and ensures the client experience is consistent.

For proposals, firms tend to use template Word documents or one of the proposal writing applications, like Practice Ignition or Go Proposal. But, without full integration to practice management systems like CCH Central and IRIS, they create another data silo. FibreCRM avoids this as proposals can be created using the data in the CRM which keeps the client journey in one system.

AML can require the use of a document management system, a client portal and electronic identity verification checking systems like ID3 Global. To support the collection of data and documents FibreCRM built a client portal which includes the capability for clients to upload and take photos of documents to comply with regulations and have an integration with GBG ID3 Global.

FibreCRM’s KYC processes includes Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) and Sanction Checks. It includes, as standard, 20+ risk assessment forms that capture who the beneficial owner(s) are so that you can comply with the regulations fully.

Letters of Engagement (LOE) are not just for the onboarding process; firms need to keep them up to date which creates an ongoing administrative burden and overhead. One firm we work with estimated generating new and updating LOEs consumed over 500 hours a month; FibreCRM’s system with e-sign capability reduces the time to around 145 hours a month with an HR cost saving of over £50,000 pa. Notwithstanding the potential increase in revenue this time could create.

CRM for the ultimate client experience

CRM is not just about saving time and complying with regulations; it supports creating a positive client experience.

Use the onboarding process to reinforce, in the client’s mind, that you are there to help them every step of the way – right from onboarding them into your firm, through to helping them exit by supporting the sale of their business.

Set out a roadmap for the client so they can see a timeline of their problems reducing or disappearing. To be able to do this your strategy needs to be clear before you onboard clients, so you have to have a vision laid out in front of the client which enables them to see a journey.

Be human and offer support and training on what information is required and how to use onboarding technology. You can support clients with pre-recorded videos, weekly check-ins with screen share calls and help documentation because people respond to different resources.

As well as the human touch, use technology. The following are some examples of automated triggers that you could embed into the onboarding process by using workflows in CRM:

  • A welcoming email (perhaps with embedded video)
  • Kick-off meeting to define and agree the client’s goals
  • Quarterly tax, wealth and business planning reviews
  • Regular feedback surveys

The ultimate objective of onboarding is to do the job so well that you get referrals before you’ve even done any work.

Onboarding KPIs

Here are some suggestions for KPIs to help you track and develop your process:

  • Percentage of on-time onboarding
  • Onboarding NPS
  • Number of referrals

Consider setting a target with each client to complete the onboarding. When doing this, ensure the client (and you) can hit the target. This approach sets a frame of collaboration and trains the client to appreciate you need to work together.

End with a Net Promoter Score© survey and request for a referral. Collecting onboarding data across the firm will give your firm visibility of performance in real-time. You can then carry out “after action reviews” to help improve this crucial process.

Book a free discovery call with us to explore how FibreCRM’s CRM software and structured processes can support your firm’s onboarding process so you can maximise your firm’s efficiency and effectiveness.

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