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12 Financial Threats Every Accountancy Firm Will Face In 2012 And Beyond.  A Free report on how accountancy firms need to protect their clients, use social media, market more smartly, and form their strategy to best grow their firm over the next 12-24 mon
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12 Financial Threats Every Accountancy Firm Will Face In 2012 And Beyond. A Free report on how accountancy firms need to protect their clients, use social media, market more smartly, and form their strategy to best grow their firm over the next 12-24 mon


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This is a free report from Insight Marketing on how Accountancy firms of all sizes - International through to Sole Trader - will need to protect against 12 specific financial threats. …

This is a free report from Insight Marketing on how Accountancy firms of all sizes - International through to Sole Trader - will need to protect against 12 specific financial threats.

It outlines these threats and what can be done to take action to ensure your firm can grow and plan ahead for these now.

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  • 1. 12 Financial Threats every accountancy firm will faceFor senior partners & managers A publication from Insight Marketing
  • 2. Your 28 page report from Insight The next 12 – 24 months could define the future, profitability and sustainability of your firm Dear accounting professional, The last few years have been as unpredictable as the weather! Just when someone says the worst is over, here comes another downpour. It’s the challenges and opportunities created over the past few years that have prompted me personally to write this free eBook to give accountants an early warning. I don’t know about you, but if you are anything like some of the clients we support then you’re probably sick of journalistic hype, fear mongering and sensational news. I have tried to avoid this ‘tone’ within the eBook, whilst accepting that as I write it the European Community is on the edge of bankruptcy, the world economy has trillions of dollars it cannot pay and companies across the country struggle. Closer to home RSM Tenon predict 70 Million in losses, Target have gone into administration and KPMG freeze their bonus scheme for trainees. This eBook is designed to draw your attention to the future, what could impact your own firm more seriously than anything you have already weathered. Our team of consultants are vastly experienced experts at working with accountants. They have spoken to thousands of accountancy firms over the last 29 years. As professional market watchers they have an unmatched ability for sensing what’s happening in the profession by combining their market intelligence. They are often spot-on with this type of call and it’s their experience and knowledge I have drawn together to bring you this exclusive eBook from Insight. Our team has taken time to gather the feedback and comments from hundreds of accountancy firms of all sizes, to put together the 12 key financial threats facing accountancy firms. They are the areas we believe you may be hit the hardest with over the next coming years. Importantly, we have also included our own ideas and thoughts on what you can do about them. As you may already know, Insight takes its role very seriously and fully understands that successfully growing an accountancy firm takes time. This report alone will not change that, but our hope is that, in parts, our predictions are right and this gives you the time you need to plan and prepare. Finally as the entire business world becomes more ‘connected’, the need to actively put yourself out there and to network online using social networking is now more important than ever before. If you want to take the future of your practice seriously, and discover how leading firms are making social networking work then why not join us live. Social Networking That Works is an exclusive event for accountants that want to take their future seriously and learn how to use social networking to protect existing customers and attract new ones. Warm regards, Joel Oliver Joel Oliver | Managing Director P.S. Why not check out and find out for yourself why this is the must attend event for firms of all sizes. 2 Register online at or call the workshop hotline on 01325 469 603
  • 3. Your 28 page report from InsightContents 4 Who are Insight, what experience do we have and why have we written this eBook? 5 Failing to realise that the market is changing and having a strategy to respond! 7 The rate of change affects accountancy firms the most! 8 Spending valuable time over analysing your firm’s spending 9 Your customer base will be at more risk than ever before!10 Overseas accountancy services and franchise-type accounting firms will grow11 The silent, growing technological threat from within online accounting solutions12 An increasing threat from ‘Wanna Be Accountants’13 Most accountancy firms do nothing to protect their most valuable asset14 Top layer profits, ‘the cream’, which many have enjoyed are under threat, and could disappear completely for some firms16 Social Media18 Some firms grasp digital marketing with significant success, whilst others are left losing clients and wondering why!19 Social Networking That Works Helping accountants win better quality clients... gain higher fees... and earn more profit! 3
  • 4. Your 28 page report from Insight Who are Insight, what experience do we have, and why have we written this eBook? Who are Insight? For those of you who don’t know, Insight Marketing was founded almost 30 years ago by well-known author and philanthropist David Oliver. He is also my father, and he has built, grown and run many companies, selling some and continuing to run others. He remains one of the most sought-after sales and marketing presenters in the UK. His vision for Insight is as clear today as it was in the beginning – to help accountancy firms grow and realise the potential of the partners and the teams they are responsible for. Today our team works hard to help accountancy firms grow serving a diverse range of firms across the world. From leading internationals to sole practitioners, Insight are able to help any firm, of any size, anywhere to grow – providing our values align. We are also proud to have an excellent reputation for our no-nonsense approach to sales and marketing that delivers meaningful results both on and offline. What experience does Insight have? We are the only accountancy specialist able to promote you online and offline, plus provide training, consultancy and support! • In short, loads – you can of course check us out online at • Worked with accountants for almost 30 years • Uniquely able to work with any firm of any size • Diverse experience working with top internationals to sole traders • Insight generate, track and measure hundreds of thousands of emails, direct mail and appointments for accountants every year In the few months leading up to writing this eBook over 10,000 accountancy firms have requested a previous report, 25,000+ get monthly email updates from us, thousands have joined us on LinkedIn, joined us live and met up with us in 1:1 sessions with our consultants. Why did we write the eBook anyway? I am personally concerned that many accountants are retrenching in the current climate, cutting costs, reducing overheads and sticking their heads in the sand. Firms that choose to do nothing may become overexposed to the threats that will come. On the other hand, we strongly believe there are opportunities for firms that move quickly and decisively to protect their client base and take advantage of the changes in the market through effective sales and marketing, including social networking. If you want to take the ‘unknown’ out of your social media then why not join us at one of our exclusive up and coming events (see page 19) 4 Register online at or call the workshop hotline on 01325 469 603
  • 5. Your 28 page report from InsightTHREAT #1Failing to realise that the market is changing,and having a strategy to respond!Perhaps the greatest single threat to accountancy firms of any size is failing to realise the changes that are taking placein the market. We speak to thousands of accountants who simply think that everything is the same, will stay the same andis always going to be the same. The reality is they have already changed forever. In 1992 a 22 year old test engineer sentthe world’s first text message, in 2011 6 trillion emails were sent and our smart phones have more power than it took toput the first man on the moon. With 250 billion emails sent every day these changes will affect the relationship betweenaccountants and their clients.It’s changed!This report highlights real threats that are possibly already affecting your firm. Perhaps in a small way, but our team wouldargue that the effect is going to increase. As you read this report, we encourage you to reflect on the threats raised andrelate them back to threat 1 – because identifying the threats that exist and then planning to respond is critical to yourfuture success.How to respond?Broadly speaking our team witness two different responses when accountancy firms realise the threats exist and understandthey are real.A: Do absolutely nothing at allSome firms tortoise shell and have taken the decision to do nothing at all. They are simply holding out for a better day,when things will ‘return to normal’. Perhaps there is some wisdom in this; after all, some accountants have mastered thelong game. They say they understand what is happening and believe that things will return to how they once were. Thismay be the case once Facebook and LinkedIn die a death, supermarkets stop considering doing compliance work,internal threats from the likes of Xero fade away, attrition rates return to normal and competition starts to decrease! Ofcourse this just is not going to happen, what will happen is change occurring at a faster rate than ever before. Firms needto face up to the fact that the game has changed: how accountancy firms market themselves, maintain relationships withexisting clients and communicate with prospects has changed forever. Helping accountants win better quality clients... gain higher fees... and earn more profit! 5
  • 6. Your 28 page report from Insight B: Supermarket Fever Other firms act with what we call ‘supermarket fever’ – a traditional practice trying to fill the shelves with every available product and service offered. Our team has seen them all – from coaching, property sales and investment schemes (with little or no due diligence) to multi-level marketing schemes like utilities warehouse. We accept that’s a broad-brush assessment, and of course there may be some circumstances where these opportunities are suitable. Indeed we advise clients on promoting additional services, but only when this is part of a broader strategy and not a knee jerk reaction that can spread time too thinly for key partners. 7 things Insight recommends 1. Accept as partners and senior managers that the economy and technological playing fields have changed the profession 2. Develop a plan for protecting what you have and expanding your client base using external, expert advice where appropriate (of course we can provide this) 3. Strive to develop highly targeted, ideally exclusive offerings for your current and potential customers that re-enforces your status as their most trusted advisor 4. Avoid promoting anything that’s medium to high risk unless your experience mitigates that risk 5. Ensure your firm develops a culture that is prepared, willing and able to respond quickly and effectively 6. Increase your fees fearlessly and have a strategy to do this at planned intervals 7. Become early adopters where you have the capacity to do so “Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.” Sir Winston Churchill 6 Register online at or call the workshop hotline on 01325 469 603
  • 7. Your 28 page report from InsightTHREAT #2The rate of change affects accountancy firms the most!Despite what many people think, after almost 30 years supporting accountants we know you are actually very good athandling change. After all, the complexities and changes that an average partnership team and practice have to dealwith every single year is staggering: • Bank managers replaced with call centres, • Advice replaced by Apps, • iXBRL implementation as the Inland Revenue becomes big brother • Annual tax and other legislative changes to deal withand all that’s before we take into account the day–to-day running of an ever-changing firm.Despite this remarkable ability to cope and manage change the reality is that unless it is turned carefully to your advantageit’s a costly distraction. Coping with change does not bring in additional fee income and can swallow days of valuablepartner and staff time providing nothing in return.When change sends you off-balance it can feel as though you are running as fast as possible and not moving forward.You go from job to job, dealing with urgent client demands and still the practice does not grow meaningfully. It can createsignificant frustration, disappointment, and in some cases disbelief that you are right for the job any longer. The Insight teamspeak to many senior staff who have quite simply had the stuffing knocked out of them. They are tired, discouraged andblinded by the rate of change.Firms must focus on change that brings positive results and remain highly agileOne of the characteristics that distinguishes successful firms is the ability to remain agile. It marks you out and this itself canbe a significant differential. Agility in this context means the ability to respond and change, both to the world around youand in the way you communicate internally and externally. In an uncertain world, if you can offer a response founded onleadership, clarity and conviction, clients and potential clients will welcome it.Your response may not be perfect, but it should demonstrate that you have mastered your own fears and uncertaintiesand have plans and strategies to take advantage of the challenges ahead. Historically, agility meant adapting andcommunicating in weeks or months. It meant you had time to think and decide. It’s not like that any more, with technologyat your fingertips, this is real time change and the first movers are the winners.“Stretch your limits without threatening your foundation”Seth Godin Helping accountants win better quality clients... gain higher fees... and earn more profit! 7
  • 8. Your 28 page report from Insight THREAT #3 Spending valuable time over analysing your firms spending Introspective, over-analysis of your firm’s spending In the current climate many firms have simply put up the shutters, reduced their cost base and dug in. Yet this introspective analysis of your practice and expenses can result in significant damage. We have witnessed it de-motivate once happy staff, significantly reduce moral and generate an atmosphere of loss. It’s as if the firm has accepted things are bad now, going to get worse and eventually fall apart! This atmosphere can also stop partners, managers and key staff reaching out to their customers at such a crucial time. Now more than ever, your clients need your advice and crystal clear financial guidance. They are unlikely to get this from a firm more focused on it’s own cost cutting than its customer’s needs. One national firm I met with During a meeting with a national firm they explained their cost cutting process. Every office had been instructed to cut costs, and reduce ‘unnecessary spend’. In one office this resulted in the admin clerk being removed along with the tea lady! Sadly, when they left they took with them some of the joy of work and once-high levels of motivation. Some partners themselves would have to go and one told us with pain in his face: “This has been one of the unhappiest periods of my working life. Not only are we working harder and spread more thinly than ever before but this internal focus has led to us taking our eye of the ball externally. I cannot remember the last meeting where the focus was about growth. Clients have been lost; our attrition rate is rising, our margins dented but worst of all I am not sure many of us believe we can still win this fight!” Of course cutting back may be a painful and a necessary reality. The impact of the current climate for the Top 50 firms is already evident, with thousands of job losses in recent months. Phil Shohet of Kato Consultancy predicts a similar number will go in the next year or so. How is it that amongst all this doom and gloom, many firms are thriving? At a time when the majority of firms are turning inward and become introspective, their clients want more. They want you to guide them through this financial minefield and secure the future of their company. As these proactive, business owners desperately look for help, accountants who sit back will lose clients and firms with a clear strategy for growth will clean up. Without a plan, your practice is rudderless. So manage cost cutting and create a strategy for growth. Times are changing, and what you have always done will not always give you what you used to get – you will get less. It’s vital your strategy and plan for growth incorporate both online and offline marketing including social networking (see page 19 for details on our live event for accountants) What’s more you must set specific, quantifiable goals. You need to implement a proven programme of sales and marketing activities which will ensure you hit your targets and grow, while others wait for a better day to come. Quick reminder - continually focusing on cost cutting will: 1. Undermine the motivation of your staff and can squeeze the spirit out of the practice 2. Adversely affect the service clients receive 3. Can result in losing the long term vision for the practice 4. Constrict growth and stifle enthusiasm Now is not the time to shrink back, but a time to plan proactively; to put in place the strategies for the future of your practice and to work towards structured growth. Even if your firm is not yet feeling the combined effects of the climate and threats to come, we urge you to plan now. 8 Register online at or call the workshop hotline on 01325 469 603
  • 9. Your 28 page report from InsightTHREAT #4Your customer base will be at more risk than ever before! Some readers will be old enough to remember when almost all forms of marketing for accountants were banned. The only way to increase your customer base was through networking. Most customers would be friends and firms never solicited for work. You would never consider approaching another company to see if they might ‘consider changing firms’. Of course, those times are long gone and now it’s acceptable, in fact ‘essential’ – for accountants to market themselves. What is new though is that over the next few months’ accountants will start to market in completely different ways than ever before. The channels they use will be the most diverse and technologically advanced in living history and you must assume that your competitors will market to your clients, more often, more intelligently and in more compelling ways than ever before.Viral Marketing, National TV, online advertising, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and TwitterYou don’t need to go far to see the speed at which these threats are already gathering momentum. Watch your localrugby or cricket match and you might see it sponsored by an accountancy network, go to YouTube and you will seehundreds of videos from accountants prompting their services virally.Of course the more advanced firms are already benefitting from social networking using sites like LinkedIn, Facebook,Twitter and Google +. They are using their traditional networking skills that they have used for years and applying themonline. Over the next few months you will see a significant increase in the use of Apps on Smartphone’s and Ipads as firmsstrive to stay ahead. During our Social Networking That Works event (SNTW) our expert team will explain the importance ofsocial networking and how to make the most of it (see page 19)As firms extend the reach and scope of their marketing they will find many profitable companies who are desperatefor help and guidance. Over the next few years, perhaps more than ever, business owners will need help advice andassistance from proactive accountants. Firms that remain resistant to change, hiding themselves away, waiting for a betterday will be left behind in favour of up to date, advanced firms with a culture of reaching out.Attrition rates will riseAs competition increases and customers expect more for less, packages and fees will be negotiated. It’s not just theaccountancy market that has got to adapt to these market changes, once-loyal customers will be forced to look at theservice they receive from their existing accountants and it will become increasingly acceptable to ‘shop around’ for thevery best package at the best possible price. Even profitable clients who have been unaffected or even benefited fromthe last few years are likely to cut costs under the guise of the ‘economic downturn’.Four years ago a conversation between one of our consultants and an accountancy firm discussing attrition rates risingwas extremely rare. It just wasn’t an issue back then, but now it’s an ever-increasing topic of conversation that our expertshave to help deal with regularly. Helping accountants win better quality clients... gain higher fees... and earn more profit! 9
  • 10. Your 28 page report from Insight THREAT #5 Overseas accountancy services and franchise-type accounting firms will grow At one time, overseas-based firms struggled to get a foothold in the UK, as clients were reluctant to change firms to an overseas operation. Confidentiality and the perceived risk of accounts ‘going over there’ were strong objections. Now, as market and loyalty habits change, these objections for many have disappeared. A good looking technologically advanced front end, secure online systems and low cost accounting with rapid turnaround times makes it very attractive. Overseas operations will no longer be promoted as the ‘call centre’ type model, which so many resisted in the past. They will grow in popularity under the rather sexy cover of ‘cloud computing’. At the moment, most UK accountancy firms slumber, unaware of the potential threats ahead. Even those that are aware of them seem to be fairly blasé about it. A few firms have even been told to get rid of their lower value clients, so losing them to a ‘cheaper’ provider is considered a blessing. This advice is OK, until you realise that most of the ‘trainers’ that tell firms to do this are no longer in accounting. When we ask firms where their largest, most profitable clients with the BIG annual fees came from they say “Oh those customers! Well they have been with us for donkey’s years!” (Then you see a smile, fond memories of the good old days come flooding back . . . ) “Do you know I helped XYZ through their first few years – and now look at them!” They seem to have forgotten that some of the best customers today were the small, low-end customers of yesterday. When you stop putting them into the funnel at the bottom, or deliberately let them go – you could be heading for a slow decline in profitable clients. What’s more you will be allowing other competitors to start at the perceived bottom of the market and gain a powerful foothold, eventually targeting your A, B and C grade clients. Let’s face it, the threat is not just from overseas. If it’s not overseas the threat will come from the growing ‘franchise type’ accounting firms We have all seen them, spring up from nothing and now they appear on every corner in every major city you see them. These franchise type firms will grow in popularity as the economy continues to struggle and those out of work look for new sources of ‘predictable income’. The ex Finance Director or Accounts Manager with a pocket full of redundancy money are prime targets. “In this day and age you must accept that if you don’t engage your clients with regular, relevant information and appropriate marketing offers your competitors will – and the grass is always greener!” Joel Oliver 10 Register online at or call the workshop hotline on 01325 469 603
  • 11. Your 28 page report from InsightTHREAT #6The silent, growing technological threatfrom within online accounting solutionsThe first commercial website was launched in August 1993 and now just 18 years on countless personal and businessfunctions can be completed online. The question today is no longer “Is it possible to do this online?” we now demand “Whycan’t I do this online?” Accountants are no longer ignoring this shift in expectations and many are launching accountingsystems online.The challengeIt was an odd conversation the first time we encountered it. We were chatting away with a good client of ours and theysaid, “We want to launch our online accountancy solutions site. However we are concerned that our own existing clientswill find the site and we want to avoid that!” This one conversation sums up the potential threat, challenge and completionthat these beautiful online sites create.Are online customers really going to get anything different from your standard clients? It’s hard enough for manyaccountants to differentiate their firm and their offering from competitors, and trying to explain why your online servicesare so different in price is even harder.The reality – compliance is under threatWith hundreds of traditional accountancy firms already offering Xero solutions or similar the reality is that traditionalcompliance work is under threat – right now. What’s more because so much of it can be done online, with ease, and givethe client a lower price and accounts online in real time, it’s going to grow in popularity.Prepare for it, plan for it and be ready!Perhaps one of the most important ingredients here is the selection, implementation and use of the online system. If yourfirm simply leaves it for your clients to be approached by a solutions provider then this is risky ground. In order for your firmto maximise the opportunities, you need to be involved in the selection, implementation and the use of the online systemeither by directly hosting the software or by acting as a portal to it. What’s more you must plan your pricing so that thesolutions enable you to concentrate on the profitable value-added services such as management reporting, forecastingand planning, areas you can make a real difference to the business.A significant threat from withinExternal threats are perhaps a little easier to deal with, but threats created by the profession themselves are tough tohandle. As hundreds of accountants start to move towards providing online solutions at extremely low prices it’s going tofuel a price war for the bread and butter compliance work that so many firms need. Helping accountants win better quality clients... gain higher fees... and earn more profit! 11
  • 12. Your 28 page report from Insight THREAT #7 An increasing threat from ‘Wanna Be Accountants’ Turn back the clock a few years ago and credit card companies, clothing retailers, petrol stations, and garden centre’s would have been forgiven for laughing at the prospect of a major supermarket becoming their biggest competitor. In fact, they probably thought they knew all their competitors and believed they held many of the aces when it came to pricing. Sadly, the giant supermarkets came to the party and brought their assorted boxes of tricks including the ability to systemise and process almost everything. What was bad news for the smaller stores was great for consumers with greater choice, free parking, 24 hour opening and reduced prices. Gosh they made life seemingly so much easier. They didn’t stop with selling products; instead they continued their considerable growth by going into the service industry first with insurance, then mortgages and more recently legal advice. The question is not if they will go onto accounting, but simply when? From apples to accounting Just as your firm probably offers more services today than 10 years ago, the major supermarkets now offer almost everything. They have the brand, publicity, infrastructure and technology to go into the accounting market. First they will target the smaller customers, then gradually work their way up the fee ladder. From mobiles to MYOB Ok, the threat might not come from a supermarket, but our team thinks it will. Closer to home could be the mobile phone providers, they already hold financial data on millions of companies and can reach them cost-effectively at the touch of a button. In fact, as I write this it would be a safe bet of mine if I said that your own customer database is so badly managed that it contains very few mobile numbers. Yet in a recent survey by our team, who were reviewing a leading accountancy firm’s customers, the number 1 preferred communication channel was – text messages. These mobile phone giants will be able to target your clients faster, easier and at lower cost than you can. What’s more, they will be using modes of communication that so many of your customers prefer. Just think about it: they will be perfectly positioned to offer phone-based accounting, real time accounts, APP solutions for many general queries, anytime access and 24 hour advice and support. Client tax returns will be completed when you press hash 9 or on ‘the cloud’ at any time – and everything could be billed directly to your phone accountant – no chasing payments or complicated standing orders to set up. From Banking to bookkeeping Does it sound farfetched? Our team doesn’t think so! As the banks struggle (figuratively speaking of course) to find new income streams, how long will it be before they decide to stop referring it to accountants? Perhaps the only issue holding them back has been large-scale implementation but an out-sourced cloud-based solution potentially overseas could well solve that in one go. Whoever comes first, Tesco, T-Mobile Virgin, or HSBC you can be sure as technology makes accounts simpler and The Cloud means they can be done anywhere, the timing is perfect for a ‘global giant’ to step in and clean up. 12 Register online at or call the workshop hotline on 01325 469 603
  • 13. Your 28 page report from Insight THREAT #8 Most accountancy firms do nothing to protect their most valuable asset The strength of the previous threats are increased considerably as so few accountancy firms do nothing to protect their number 1 asset, their customers. We know that very few accountants have any kind of customer protection plan or strategy. But that’s not the biggest problem, the bigger problem is the way they manage their customer data.The profession needs to wake up – too many firms are lazy, careless and stuck in the dark ages whenit comes to managing customer data!Yes that’s a strong statement, and it’s one I would be happy to discuss with any firm who takes offence at it. In our experiencesome firms don’t even have a database of their current customers. Sure they have them on some list, somewhere becausethat’s how the invoices are raised but not on a database that’s managed, you can mail, email, and sms from. For the fewfirms that do have a database it’s so often out of date, inaccurate and in some cases a total mess – it’s embarrassing.Do you have mobile numbers, email addresses and accurate data for your clients in one centraldatabase?If your firm doesn’t have a central database of customer data that’s up to date then you’re leaving your most importantand valuable asset unprotected. We should know, we sell data to hungry accountancy firms looking to grow. Forgettingthe threats we have listed in this document, even the current levels of competition from fellow firms will mean they canprobably communicate and market to your clients in more ways than you!Carry out a customer survey, build and clean your database and check your clients are happyOf course partner interaction; great service and accounts on time are fantastic. But when your competition appears tooffer the same, for less and with more advanced technology, it’s hard for customers to remain loyal. The one small nigglethat your customer had from months ago (its normally the smallest thing) might just sway the balance. Out of the blue youget a call, letter of email from your once-loyal customer explaining they are going elsewhere. It’s a shock and you can’tunderstand why they are leaving after all these years – but it’s too little and it’s too late. Of course Insight can carry out thissurvey for you and update your data, whilst generating referrals or you can do this yourself. One firm that did use Insight forthis service was Calcutt Matthews.AVN firm of the year Calcutt Mathews are just one of many firms to engage Insight to carry out a strategic customer survey.The approach is simple but highly effective, Insight sensitively approach their customers, gaining valuable feedback,updating data and creating up sell opportunities.Most notably, they generating well in excess of their investment from the new opportunities created. They were also ableto identify the handful of clients where action was needed, to help safeguard retention. Referrals were asked for, whereappropriate, and were happy to provide them. The process ticked so many boxes whilst showing a direct ROI. “The work done by insight has been excellent. The real value to us is the very careful structuring of the questions and professional team to elicit the response. The summary report and assessment provided by Insight also provided real value. The campaign has more than paid for itself and we are very happy with the result”. Helping accountants win better quality clients... gain higher fees... and earn more profit! 13
  • 14. Your 28 page report from Insight THREAT #9 Top layer profits, ‘the cream’, which many have enjoyed are under threat, and could disappear completely for some firms The last few years have been a roller-coaster and it’s not just affecting accountants, but your client base as well. Let’s face it, accountants have had a fantastic run but it’s going to get harder. The highly profitable work will become more difficult to win from new or existing customers. As our government enforces ‘the big squeeze’ the strategies and highly profitable tax deals will get closed faster and become less tenable for many. Even the value added services promoted through so many networks will become even harder to promote as clients cut costs. Most firms have no plan to increase their fees despite high inflation and some have actually had fees negotiated and reduced by once stable clients. Threatened profits for many firms We believe that the next few years will significantly threaten and reduce the profitability of traditional accountancy firms. It will force them to either act differently or pack up and get out. Reach out now to your clients, super please them and add value Now is the time to reach out to your existing customers and deliver the goods in spades. Help them understand the value they get from using your firm and develop your own benefit list. Understand why your clients use you and what they are happy to pay for. Strengthen this part of your practice with everything you have got. Eradicate any weaknesses, guard against the threats we outline in this document and connect with them socially (see page 19) Then create an active strategy to get referrals using LinkedIn We all accept that the best source of new business for accountancy firms is referrals. Based on a recent survey we conducted with over 400 firms 70% of their new business came through word of mouth and referrals. What’s more, the conversion rate from a referral appointment was 70-80%. According to Mark Lloydbottom 97% of clients would happily recommend their accountants but 96% have never been asked to do so! “ 97% of clients would happily recommend their accountants. 96% have never been asked to. Mark Lloydbottom - Clients for Life ” 14 Register online at or call the workshop hotline on 01325 469 603
  • 15. Your 28 page report from InsightEvery accountant knows that but there is 1 massive obstacleI have lost count of the times I have sat down and chatted with an accountant about generating more referrals. They areaware of their importance but just don’t get around to asking when they should. Part of this is down to time, but mostly itsfear, fear of the 1 big obstacle coming up. Let me paint a familiar picture, you go to ask a really happy client for a referralduring a positive meeting, they smile and say “sure no problem, let me think about it and if anyone comes to mind I will letyou know.” Conversation closed, no referral generated and you thank them and awkwardly move on.But what if there was another way?What if there was a way you could already know before asking the question exactly who you wanted them to refer youto? What if when you sat down you could say “X you seem happy with the work we have done to date therefore I wantedto ask if you would be happy recommending and referring us? I have looked on your LinkedIn profile and can see youknow Mr X from XYZ well, could you introduce me to him on LinkedIn after recommending me first?” It’s specific, targeted,knowledgeable and removes the dead silence of your customer trying to think of someone to recommend you to. Andbecause LinkedIn is all about networking almost without exception the request will be granted. This is a powerful use ofSocial Media to help your firm grow. If you want to know more about this idea and many more why not join us live at SocialNetworking That Works – see page 19. sntw social networking that works The must attend event of the year for accountancy firms of all sizes Helping accountants win better quality clients... gain higher fees... and earn more profit! 15
  • 16. Your 28 page report from Insight THREAT #11 Social Media The Game has changed Since Insight started over 25 years ago, our principal aim has been to help accountancy firms grow profitably. In that time, the changes we have witnessed, socially, economically and technologically, have meant that we have had to keep on our toes to help firms stay ahead of the game. When we started there wasn’t a single computer in any firm; now it’s hard to imagine surviving without them! Today we are alerting your firm to potential threat and opportunity that social media presents to accountants. The web has changed how we connect with each other, and today social networking is at the heart of the communication revolution. It’s no longer used by a few kids, but by the entire business community, including a rapidly growing number of your clients and potential clients. 74% of professional firms see social media as the number one emerging channel for lead generation. Yet 68% of the same group says they are unprepared for the challenges of social media marketing! Those that fail to keep up – will be left behind! The threat comes when firms who are reluctant to embrace this new technology simply dig their heels in and fail to realise that clients will be approached through social media channels by your competitors. They will participate in the groups your customers join and they will answer the questions you should. Trust can be quickly eroded and clients will be won or lost online. What’s more it’s going to affect the value of your firm! I don’t know about you, but I was mightily impressed recently when Facebook announced that they are to offer shares to the public to raise $5 billion – the biggest-ever sale of shares by an internet-based company. Announcing the offer meant the company had to reveal its profitability for the first time – an impressive 65% increase to $1 billion profit on $3.1 billion turnover in 2011. Wow! (They also revealed that they have 845 million users every month, of which more than 50% use Facebook every day. Double wow!) You might be left wondering what on earth the value of Facebook has to do with the value of your firm. So let me answer this by asking you a question. What is the value of your firm’s online reputation and reach? In the future it is this question that will be key to potential purchasers of your practice. You might laugh at the thought of this, but remember that’s what the solicitors did when someone first suggested supermarkets would carry out legal work! As your clients become more engaged online, their online loyalty will carry a significant and growing premium. Right now the number of your own customers using tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter is growing. They are joining groups, chatting online with likeminded individuals, sharing status updates and interacting with them. If you don’t grasp this, and position your firm to participate in conversations – then you must accept your competitor’s will. 16 Register online at or call the workshop hotline on 01325 469 603
  • 17. Our values Your 28 page report from InsightWe don’t know what to say or how to join in?All this can sound airy-fairy, technical, complicated and even ridiculous. So let me paint a picture:At the end of a busy day you are relaxing at the local health club, which happens to serve a good pint.You are sitting with a number of sporting friends after a great game. You’re chatting away when one of them raises apoint about his inheritance tax situation and his concerns. You know him personally and that he and his wife run a highlyprofitable small business. He also mentions that they are looking to sell of a large piece of land he owns for a significantfigure and that his accountant has given him no advice.Can you join in this conversation?Do you have some questions you can ask?Might you be well positioned to help them, legally, ethically and appropriately?Is it possible you can help save them money and help with their IHT situation?Could this conversation be win/win?Now just imagine that same conversation online on LinkedIn, Facebook or Google +. Once you know how to followconversations and join in, communicating is actually very easy. Remember the days of the Rolodex or Filofax when youwould talk honestly with prospects face to face? Well they are exactly the same online, with the same rules of engagement– no crass selling or hype, just honest, down to earth conversation. Just like the simple example above, conversations arehappening online, right now in real time. They are conversations you can follow, listen to and comment on when andwhere appropriate. Great news accountants have more content at their fingertips than any other industry As accountants you are sat on a gold-mine of valuable content – with the help of insight we can show you how to use social networking to distribute this with ease. Join us for Social Networking That Works and in one day we will show your firm how to use social media with ease – see page 19. Helping accountants win better quality clients... gain higher fees... and earn more profit! 17
  • 18. Your 28 page report from Insight THREAT #12 Some firms grasp digital marketing with significant success, whilst others are left losing clients and wondering why! When we started Insight over 25 years ago we never thought that we would be where we are now. The key differentiator in the coming months will not be the quality of your partnership team or how quickly you deliver your accounts; nor will it be in how well you train your staff or how nice your offices are. The key differentiator between your firm and ‘the others’ will be whether you choose to accept ‘online’ as a fundamental part of your marketing, sales and communications strategies. Never before in the history of your practice has the need been so high for you to embrace digital marketing. In the UK accounting community there is presently a significant divide between those who ‘do’ digital and those who don’t. In our opinion the time to make a decision about your digital involvement is NOW. The choice is entirely yours: take advantage of it or be taken advantage of. Embrace it or get left behind. Your digital marketing reputation This is a basic concept that must be understood – and fast. We all know we should not turn up to a new client meeting in dirty clothes, with smelly feet and a bird’s nest hair style. All reputable firms would make sure that if a potential client is visiting their office it is clean, tidy and presentable. Few if any would accept anything but the highest standards offline, yet so many accept very poor standards online. Yet every potential client will visit your website before choosing your firm and certainly your existing clients will be looking for online solutions to the accountancy challenges they face. Despite this, some firms still have no web presence at all, others have generic, thoughtless sites stuffed with dull content, while a handful of firms have an online experience that engages potential and current clients alike. Reaching out to a new generation of wealthy, tech-savvy business owners It’s not just important to consider how you engage online but also who you are connecting with. If you have an ageing client base and are looking for long term growth you must employ digital marketing to reach out to new prospects. These potential clients grew up with mobile phones, they understand the difference between IE and Firefox, LinkedIn and Xing, and they could blow your firm out of the water just by looking at your Twitter page. They communicate with their friends using Facebook and they use Dropbox for simple large file-sharing. They are hugely capable individuals with more ability and capacity for growth than previous generations as they stand on the shoulders of the chip. 18 Register online at or call the workshop hotline on 01325 469 603
  • 19. IBLE F 25 IG O EL CPD R Yrs Trusted by Acc P ountants S C D POIN TSocial NetworkingFor AccountantsDiscover in just one day how your accountancy firm can use social media with easePlusYou will take away everything you need to implement this technology, even if you have limited time or budget available!
  • 20. Your 28 page report from Insight Your special invitation from David Oliver With the help of my team at Insight, we have selected your firm for this personal invitation to join us ‘live’ for Social Networking That Works. In one day I guarantee you’ll discover everything you need to know about social networking: what to use, what to avoid and what low-cost or no-cost options are available. It’s been designed exclusively for busy accountants like you so that you can take away new skills in social networking you’d never thought possible. Please remember these 2 points, One: If you don’t attend you’ll miss out on an opportunity to give your firm real competitive advantage over your competitors. Two: It’s been carefully crafted for time-stretched accountants who have little time or resources – and limited technical ability. Accept my invitation and register by calling 01325 469603 or visit where you can register online. Warm regards, David Oliver David Oliver – Founder c i al Your Spe d Offer Early Bir before or SNTW f Register you’ll sav e April 11th, and price for 25% off t he ticket gate! every dele ne at, sntw social networking that works onli Register etworkingthatworks. sntw ialn www.soc social networking that works 20 Register online at or call the workshop hotline on 01325 469 603
  • 21. Your 28 page report from InsightSocial Networking That Works: The ProgrammeIn one great value day together, we will take the mystery out of social networking and provide you with an achievableplan that’s ready to implement across your firm. Here are just a few of the elements we will go through with you:• The past, the present and the future of social networking and what it means to your accountancy firm and the profession as a whole.• Taming the social dragon – you will discover the myths, lies and fairy tales of social networking and how to get tangible results with ease.• Learn how you can easily identify prospects of the right type, in the geographic area you operate and how to connect with them at the touch of a button.• Hear how fellow accountancy firms of all sizes are using social networking to connect with, communicate with, and protect their existing customers.• Discover 7 proven steps to effortlessly unlock the power of LinkedIn for prospecting.• How to identify the referral potential from the people you know within just a few clicks.• Get to grips with Facebook and Twitter and how they can be powerfully employed.• How to connect and integrate your social networking platforms together, for true simplicity.• Discover the number 1 mistake most firms make and why they don’t generate a return on investment.• You’ll be shown step by step how to use new networking tools to gain significant coverage, search engine rankings and enquiries.• 4 of the most well respected experts in their own field at one venue; this unique team of thought leaders will reveal how to lift the lid on social networking and leave you with a comfortable plan you can implement without stress. No waffle or theory just great, proven, practical ideas jam packed into 1 day to give you maximum value for your time investment.• Plus you can observe – live, real time demonstrations during the day. Register by phone and secure your place without risk Plus we will immediately rush out your free bonus report! For the small investment of just £397 00 + VAT, you will have access to leading edge marketing advice from 4 of the most knowledgeable and experienced presenters in the profession. This workshop is packed with easy-to-use content, and driven by ideas and concepts used and tested for other accountancy firms. You will benefit from first-hand experience, confident in the knowledge that the ideas are proven and ready to implement. What’s more it’s backed by our 100% money back guarantee (see page 25) Your free report Unlocking the Power of LinkedIn for Accountants IBLE F IG Visit O IBLE F IG EL O EL CPD CPD R R P S C D T POIN P Or register by calling 01325 469603 from Insight S C D T POIN Helping accountants win better quality clients... gain higher fees... and earn more profit! 21
  • 22. Your 28 page report from Insight A unique panel of presenters This workshop is for professionals in business, those of you who have already done the hardest part and that’s to and live on the same roller-coaster as you. They know what it means to be in the hot seat, and they have carefully The most respected LinkedIn trainer for accountants James Potter is Insight’s chosen LinkedIn advisor, he was originally destined for a career in accountancy when in 1986 he discovered networking. You could say the rest is history! He went on to learn four different sales methodologies along with various other disciplines. James has a unique understanding of LinkedIn and its use for professional service firms. He is not just an expert consultant, voice or advisor. No far more than that, he has made LinkedIn work, deliver, pay, generate results and in significant volumes for himself and our clients. His experience spreads from smaller firms through to multinational corporates. James focuses on the practical and tactical skills needed to succeed when using social networking. Specifically helping firms of all sizes get the most out of LinkedIn, the world’s largest online, professional, business network. The Money Man Daniel Richards has been the head of lead generation at Insight for over 10 years and for good reason. His unique experience in integrated marketing campaigns with outstanding results for accountants has earned him the nickname “The money man’’. He has been in- strumental in the growth of hundreds of firms, helping them to win better quality clients, gain higher fees and earn more profit. Daniel has presented to thousands of accountants, carried out over 500 individual 1:1 consultations and currently advises top international firms to sole traders. He and his team grow accountancy firms, working to a process that makes up Insight Intelligence©. They’ve made and monitored over 1 million phone calls, 2 million direct mail pieces, countless email shots and LinkedIn connections, resulting in thousands of pre- qualified appointments for senior partners to attend. To our knowledge there is nobody with Daniel’s understanding and experience of integrated lead generation for accountants. It’s little wonder that he is one of the most sought-after marketing experts, speakers and consultants to the profession. “ I recently attended a conference with Insight Marketing which was a fantastic day, with many very interesting and useful ideas for business development. In a follow up one-to-one session with Dan I found him to be an ” expert in his field and he is clearly someone who provides great advice in sales and marketing of professional services. 22 Register online at or call the workshop hotline on 01325 469 603
  • 23. Your 28 page report from Insightbe in business in the first place. Your presenters each deal with the same fears, the same day-to-day grind,designed this event especially for you. sntw social networking that works sntw social networking that works Founder of Insight and world class presenter sntw sntw The Founder of Insight, David Oliver is an inspirational speaker and author of 9 books in 27 languages. In the last two years alone David has spoken to thousands of accountants includ- ing presentations for UK 200, Morison International, MHA, Haines Watts, Menzies, Spof- sntw forths, ACCA, MGI, AVN and Charter Group. Like many partners and business owners David sntw describes himself as a ‘reluctant convert’ to Social Networking and it is that journey from reluctance to working with the team in a planned strategic way that will be at the heart of the team’s practical wisdom on the day. David will share with you first-hand, the battles he and the company faced as we tried to unlock the power of social networking. His special under- standing of the way senior partners, managers and business development managers work, means you can be certain this unique day will provide you with a highly effective, pragmatic social networking strategy to protect your current clients and new client acquisition. The leading authority on Digital Marketing for accountants John Braithwaite is a leading authority on how accountancy firms can maximise the impact of online, digital marketing including social networking. He has personally pioneered many new approaches to digital marketing and social networking specifically for accountancy firms. He has embraced and developed a unique process to ensure accountancy websites convert visitors to enquiries which forms part of Insight Intelligence©. John is considered to be one of the leaders in generating a return for accountancy firms through their online marketing activi- ties. He offers a unique insight into generating high quality customers online while managing current clients with ease. “ Having listened to David Oliver at his public events, and also having read some of his material, his 25 years of sales and marketing experience with accountants, means that his principles and insights are earthed in real- ” ity. They are utterly pragmatic and are easy for accountancy firms, small and large, to put into practice. This makes a big difference to the bottom line. Helping accountants win better quality clients... gain higher fees... and earn more profit! 23
  • 24. Your 28 page report from Insight Every delegate will be given this exclusive social networking pack worth over £1,800 totally free of charge, and without obligation sntw social networking that works sntw social networking that works sntw sntw sntw Your free resource library, worth over £1,800 - completely free! sntw Every delegate will gain immediate access to an exclusive online resource library worth over £1800. It’s yours with our compliments, your access key will be provided on the day! Thousands of delegates have commented that one of the things they really love about Insight workshops is the after- event support. Other events end on a high note, but then good intentions and great ideas simply fade away. That’s why, when you attend SNTW you’ll be given immediate access to an exclusive post-event online resource – as part of your registration. Yes, register today and included in your low ticket price you will receive: • Social media & networking policy template for your firm • 5 templates you can use to create the perfect online bio for you and your staff • A free guide to writing articles online • 50 + profile headlines you can use • 9 instant LinkedIn profile templates for you to adapt and implement • Access to an exclusive marketing help-line. • PLUS over 3 hours of audio recordings from David Oliver. This material covers offline practice growth material to dovetail into your social marketing activity • AND over £300 of vouchers for future Insight Marketing events Worth over £1,800! Yours free! 24 Register online at or call the workshop hotline on 01325 469 603
  • 25. Your 28 page report from InsightA brand new workshop for busy accountants: IBLE F IG O EL CPD RSocial Networking That Works P S C D T POIN Locations dates and timings Lunch and refreshments, workbook, marketing plan, templates for profiles, updates and social media policy are all included. PLUS the event qualifies for 8 CPD points and comes with over £1800 value in post-event support included. Please note, delegate numbers will be deliberately restricted and tickets are issued on a first come first served basis. 2nd May London Congress Centre WC1B 3LS 15th May Birmingham Lea Marston Hotel B76 0BY 16th May Leeds Thorpe Park Hotel LS15 8ZB 17th May Newcastle Marriott Metro Centre NE11 9XF 23rd May Bristol Manor House, Golf Club SN14 7HX No Quibble 24th May Reading Holiday Inn M4 Junc 10 RG41 5TS 100% Refund 9:00 am Registration 9:30 am - 4:30 pm Event Guarantee Early bird registration save 25% Your Resource Library, worth £1,800 Register before the 11th of April to save 25% Every delegate will gain immediate access to an exclusive online resource library worth over £1,800. Normally £397 + VAT. You pay £297 + VAT pp It’s yours with our compliments, your access key will Tel: 01325 469 603 be provided on the day! It’s yours freeFull no quibble money back guaranteeInsight was founded on a belief that we should deliver value tocustomers in everything that we do. Our workshops are no exception.We passionately believe in the outstanding value they give, and theresults they produce. That’s why we are happy to back this exclusiveworkshop with our 100% full refund guarantee.If at any time, during the day, you do not feel that you are getting realvalue, simply inform a member of our team, and we will give you a full100% refund. No questions asked, and absolutely no quibbles. Thismeans that you can book today, with complete peace of mind. Helping accountants win better quality clients... gain higher fees... and earn more profit! 25
  • 26. Your 28 page report from Insight Testimonials “ An essential and must attend event for any firm looking to grow in the continually evolving digital age. ” “ A great, highly professional ‘insight’ into the changing landscape of online marketing and digital technology for professional firms. ” “ I have now attended two Insight Marketing events in 2011. As a sole practitioner whose available time to spend on marketing is ex- ” tremely limited, these courses are invaluable as a practical approach to help grow my firm. I would recommend them as a great investment of your time and money. “ To the point, detailed and practical. ” “ The Insight team has provided a very detailed insight into the key areas to focus on with Social Media and digital marketing. Including ” the do’s and don’ts of using social media to win new business. - Excellent. “ An excellent event! The speakers delivered information in an highly interactive and interesting manner. I believe this course has taught ” me additional ways to gain quality leads for our firm. “ Very interesting and very useful – but so much information to act on at once. We will be attending your next, full day event. ” 26 Register online at or call the workshop hotline on 01325 469 603
  • 27. Your 28 page report from InsightTestimonials“ The Insight team have challenged our preconceptions regarding our marketing focus, making a clear case for online and offline effort ” integrating for best effect and return on investment. “ This was the most useful seminar that I have ever attended. In- teresting, relevant and the presenters were engaging, giving me ” personal tuition during the day. Priceless!“ Thoroughly enjoyed the day and an absolute asset for a “Novice” at marketing. ” “ The session was very informative and the speakers delivered so well. The ideas provided are all areas that we can use in our busi- ” ness to help us grow.“ Today was a great event, I have come away with concepts and ideas that will impact hugely on our business if developed and im- ” plemented properly by us. “ Immediately relevant, and specific training to produce new out- comes and increase profitability. ”“ A brief note to thank you and the Insight Team for the excellent day’s education and motivation last Wednesday, at the Belfry. I was unable ” to fault the course on any front. Content, timing, presentation, quality and subject matter all received top marks. The resulting warm, fuzzy feeling stayed with me through the weekend. Congratulations on a first class, professional event, and well done “one and all. Helping accountants win better quality clients... gain higher fees... and earn more profit! 27
  • 28. Just some of the organisations that have worked with Insight...Don’t get leftbehind...Discover over67 provenways to attractnew clients,protect yourexistingcustomersand grow yourfirm, even inthese turbulenttimes.All distilledinto oneintensivepractical day,brimming withnew contentand greatideas for youto implementimmediately...