10 MIN READ

The Road Towards Managing Client Expectations During the Tax Season

Indrajeet Pradhan

Marketing Manager, QXAS North America

QXAS presented a webinar on Encoursa whose core objective was to help CPAs, EAs and accounting firms manage client expectations better. This blog discusses the points made in the webinar.

Tax season is the most lucrative time in a financial year for CPAs and accountants. This means it is also a busy time and getting overwhelmed with peak tax season workload is fairly common, as are sleepless nights, anxiety, and a constant feeling of not being able to do enough. The 2021 filing season for the 2020 tax year has its own unique challenges.

With the American Rescue Plan, kicking into action, and constant postponement in due dates, CPAs are scrambling to make sense of the newly rolled out benefits and their impact on tax returns.

Also, there is an elephant in the room – client expectations.

Apart from all the work CPAs are saddled with, they also need to take care of demanding client expectations. QXAS, with is strong track record of helping CPAs, EAs and accounting firms resource themselves leveraging flexible engagement models, has the answer. We hosted a webinar on Encoursa that tackled the complex ‘client expectations’ problem and threw light on how external resourcing or outsourcing can be an ideal solution. The topic of this well-attended webinar was: Managing Client Expectations During Tax Season with Remote Resources: Rationale and Best Practices.

Presented by QXAS’ Associate Vice President of US Operations, Shaishav Dave, and hosted by Jennifer H. Elder, CSP, CPA, this webinar threw light on tax preparation outsourcing as a strategic answer to peak tax season challenges.

Let’s look at some of the key points of discussion in the webinar. s

Meaningful Expectations Setting

Nothing beats proactive communication as a means to clearly set expectations right at the start of the tax season. This helps set clear boundaries and enables CPAs to plan their workload better. Here are a few ideas you, as a CPA, can run with:

  • Clear Deadlines: Set deadlines to receive client information and make sure you convey the tax preparation date. This will set the ball rolling for on-time information exchange, that will help complete tax returns on time and keep clients happy.
  • Define SLAs: Make sure you and your clients are on the same page when it comes to deliverables and the scope of work. An engagement letter is a good idea, to convey project scope and making sure that clients know what you are delivering and when.

Remote Resourcing or Outsourcing – From The Client Pitch to Choosing the Right Provider

As a CPA, you will also need to inform your client that you are using an accounting outsourcing services provider to prepare client taxes. Some might not be in with the idea of outsourcing, and it is your job to highlight the benefits of outsourcing and define the absolute value that this model brings to the table.

Your objective is to bring this value home to them.

Clients doubting outsourcing is understandable but you must be able to underline the benefits of outsourcing in a manner that helps them realize the strategic benefits of outsourcing.

Accounting outsourcing is not new. Plenty of firms have been outsourcing their accounting and tax preparation tasks for a long time now. With this move, they are not only bringing their costs down, but also experience a strategic advantage.

Outsourced accounting delivers an advantage only if you are able to work with the right outsourcing services provider and this needs to be managed with due care and attention. Shaishav took the attendees through some of the qualities that they need to keep an eye out for, namely data security that includes SOC 2 Compliance and SSL encrypted client portals. As a CPA firm owner, you also need to look for an accounting services providers who is ISO compliant from the security and quality perspective.

Shaishav also stressed upon the fact that you must work with a tax outsourcing provider who has demonstrable expertise in working on US accounting and tax projects. Knowledge of commonly used accounting systems is critical and so is information about evolving US tax and accounting standards.

Looking Beyond Traditional Rationale

A survey by CPA.com, Bill.com and Hinge Research titled, Where Opportunity Meets Value: Business Model, Trends for Accounting, and Advisory Services, highlighted that 54% of buyers purchased bundled accounting services. So, even if your firm is offering individual tax preparation, it might still have to add bookkeeping and advisory/consulting to the portfolio.

Are you sorted?

This is where outsourcing or remote resourcing comes in to ensure you are able to add new services to the list irrespective of whether you have the resource expertise as these are the kind of services that an outsourced accountant brings to the table.

Also, firms have to be completely aligned with digital transformation if they are to succeed in contemporary accounting. The challenge lies in investments. Adopting the latest accounting technologies is the need of the hour, but COVID-19 and the resultant perilous finance situation of both firms and their clients means investment in technologies might or might not be possible.

But, this ‘might’ is a problem. Technologies must be adopted and investments must happen. An easy way out of this problem, is to work with an outsourcing partner who works with the latest technology and you can ensure that the benefits of this tech are passed on to you.

Shaishav also discussed the value proposition problem as well. How do you firms make sure that they are able to pitch the right value proposition to their clients? E.g. smaller clients are perennially short of time, and can’t spend too much time on accounting and also need financial insights to optimize their revenue. This is where the value proposition comes in.  As a firm, you can take up the accounting burden of a small clients and also offer a bundled offering that includes budget and financial planning.

 Conclusion

The webinar is a must watch for CPAs if they want to make the most of the tax season. What’s more, outsourcing or remote resourcing is an ever green solution that will never go out of fashion. Watch the webinar here.

ABOUT Indrajeet Pradhan

My name is Indrajeet Pradhan and I am the Marketing Manager for QX Accounting Services – North America, and wordsmith behind the QXAS blog. Hope you enjoyed reading this piece. My job is to help accountants access the knowledge they seek through blogs, guides, and other content assets that are meaningful and actionable. More Posts(4)  

Originally published Mar 16, 2021 01:03:09, updated March 16 2021

Topics: Tax outsourcing, Tax preparation, Tax season

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