Keep your clients close, keep other service providers closer

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Referring clients to other service providers is a path well-trodden by advisers, but it is often handled by practices in an opportunistic, ad-hoc, and ‘arms-length’ manner. But thinking about a strategy where clients receive high-level business advice from their accountant fits with ‘holding their hand’ for other types of business support they require – even if outside the practice’s comfort zone. However, ‘outsourcing’ front-end services to other professionals requires processes and strategy, much like outsourcing compliance services or back-office functions.

“Clients value having a business partner on their journey; one who can assist them in negotiating the twists and turns of their business life as they strive to achieve their goals and who can empathise with them,” says Wood & Disney’s Brendon Howlett. “While we can outsource a substantial amount of the ‘doing’, we can’t outsource this relationship building and we wouldn’t want to. After all, people do business with people.”

One practitioner told us that their approach was to act as a “go-between” for clients and the third-party service provider – an arrangement that suits all involved. Working with third parties requires research: find out about them from other practices they’ve worked with; learn if your goals and culture is aligned with theirs; and discuss how the relationship will work with them. Finally, start working with them in a strategic way that truly tests the service before rolling it out.

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