Financial problems are embarrassing. Most people don’t want to talk about them—not even to those who most need to know. Just as dentists often need to be extra-intuitive when dealing with anxious patients, accountants and CPAs often need to be able to read between the lines when it comes to certain client behaviors. As more and more CPA tasks become automated, this type of intuition become all the more valuable (and necessary). Below are some key signs that your client is in trouble—and is too nervous to admit it.
A Sudden Increase in Late Fees
A sudden spike in late fees on loans and credit cards, or overdraft fees from the bank, could indicate that your client is struggling with his or her cash flow. It could also be a sign that the client is being overwhelmed with other life matters, and is forgetting to make payments on time. Either way, this is this is a great opportunity to prove your value and build a stronger relationship with your client. Help them get ahead of the fees by setting up automatic payments, or even offer to monitor their account balances for them. You might also look into due date monitoring software that can help you and your clients keep tabs on upcoming deadlines.
A Big Cash Withdrawal
An unexplained cash outlay from a business owner can sometimes indicate a financial problem. Is the client suddenly transferring large sums to their personal account? Why? If the business is thriving and cash is abundant, it might not be a big deal—they may have just decided to grab that new boat they’ve been eyeing. But if the business can barely cover its expenses, you may want to ask some careful exploratory questions to determine whether you can help.
It’s a fact of doing business that some clients just aren’t responsive. Even though accounting tools like client portals can help reduce the chase for a reply, at some point CPAs must accept that they will have to wait longer to hear from some clients than others. However, if a client who used to be quite responsive suddenly goes dark, it may be an indication that they are struggling. Sometimes the words “I need help” can be hard to voice, so if you are concerned about a client’s sudden absence, you might try leaving a friendly voicemail reminding them that you are here to help.
On the other hand, maybe your client does respond to you, but the answers they give are vague and confusing. You might sense a change in their tone of voice, or feel some stress in the tone of their email. In these cases, you will need to trust your gut and be just a little persistent in seeking answers. Again, remind your client that you work for them, and your job is to help relieve their financial worries in as much as you can.
Help Your Clients Recover and Grow with ImagineTime
In the past, a good accountant was mostly someone who was good with the books. But today’s accountants need to be much more than number-crunchers. Intuition, compassion, communication, and insight are all “soft” skills that are more valuable than ever before. While most of these skills can only be gained through experience, ImagineTime offers tools that make it easier. Our accounting time and billing software helps you track time with ease; invoice clients automatically; secure valuable data, and a lot more. To request a free demo, click here.