Five Questions to Ask New Accounting Clients

John Krautzel
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Landing new clients is often the results of days or even months of hard work. Once you're ready to begin working with new clients there are five questions that can help streamline the information gathering process. Each of these questions is exceptionally valuable for accountants, as it will help elevate an understand of the expectations of the client. This is fundamental to the creation of a viable plan of action.

Asking the right questions can give you exceptional insight into the desires of your new clients. The first, and possibly most important question to begin with is: What are your goals? This will not only help you create milestones that suit the clients' visions of success, but it will also immediately tell you whether or not your field of expertise is the right one for the job. It can be frustrating to spend days or months working on pitches and plans to help a client only to discover that their true goals lie beyond your purview. Beginning by having a clear estimation of your client's goals can help prevent wasted time as new clients may not consider that all accountants are not the same, and that an accountant who specializes in tax planning may have little to offer when it comes to estate questions.

Inquiring as to goals qualifies the client and provides a destination. The next two follow-up questions help establish the first half of the roadmap the client will follow, with your assistance, to reach this destination. Ask the new client: What are your streams of revenue? Follow up with the question: What are your current assets? These two questions are vital to the process of understanding a client's preparedness and actionable resources. It may take some time to locate and categorize the answers, but it will give you an excellent starting point for understanding what your client can draw on to drive success, beginning immediately.

The final two important questions for interviewing potential clients can dramatically cut down on unexpected surprises and ensure accurate planning. The first is: What are your current expenses? It is very hard to plan for the future if you do not have a full picture of both income and expenses. The second is: What liabilities do you or your company currently possess? Learning, for instance, that the company has a high-interest loan that must be paid in full each month or quarter to avoid default is exceptionally important as you begin to help a new client on the road to success.

Armed with the right questions, you are ready to help new clients past the first interview and on to beginning the creation of plans that will usher in long-term success. Establishing goals quickly and taking a realistic look at both current assets and future expenses or liabilities can negate potential pitfalls and maximize efficiency. Furthermore, these questions demonstrate to new clients that you are knowledgeable and ready to assist with a customized solution.

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