There are a couple of different ways that accountants figure out what they are going to charge you to do your accounting and taxes. They can use a flat rate system where they charge so much for a certain type of work or they can use a quoted system where they quote a price for you based on what they know about you, but the most common method is to charge you by the hour. This eliminates the risk for the practitioner, its low cost for them to administer and it allows them to get right to work.
I use a combination of methods depending on the work that I am doing – I customize it for each client and engagement.
One thing that I don’t do is charge for meeting time with my clients, and I think I’ve finally figured out why.
At first I thought I was being responsive to my clients. What I was hearing potential clients say was that they were being charged for small talk and that really bothered them – they didn’t feel they were getting value for their money. I knew that my clients were talking loud and clear and I had to listen.
Then I thought it was just me – I like to chat with my clients and I didn’t want them to be penalized for being personable.
But I finally realized that underneath there was a very real, valid business reason for what I was doing. I realized that my effectiveness as a practitioner depended on my chats with my clients. This is when then juicy stuff comes out! You see what makes the difference in personal finance and tax planning isn’t the little tidbits of obscure technical details of how accounting and tax law works. It’s the ability to look at the big picture. To step back and take in all of the details and pull the disparate pieces together to create a picture – and a plan. These little details aren’t things that typically come up when talking business – it’s in the small talk.
Planning on having a baby? Let’s make sure you’re maxed on EI contributions. Have a sick parent? Let’s talk about providing for their care and maximizing the government’s contributions to it. Your children going off to college? Finishing? Let’s sure we captured all the tuition and education credits.
Life events can have a big effect on your finances. If I know about them then we can work together to plan for these things.
If you know that I’m charging you for the meeting time and all you can hear is the ticking clock in the back of your mind then maybe we don’t talk about these things until it’s too late. And I’m not able to do my job as well as I could.
So come on in for a chat, we’ll forget about the clock, and we’ll chat about what really matters to you. No charge, no clock and the coffee’s on me.