Firing your CPA (or consultant, or lawyer)

By | March 1, 2014

Today I fired my CPA. I have been thinking about it for a while. A few things have bothered me over the last six months, and in the end, it was the lack of courtesy and communication that really tipped the scales for me.

As the AssociatesMind notes in his post, Client Service is not a Frill, customer service is an attitude which makes the client feel included, educated, and safe. With my CPA, I felt none of those things, and as a result, I left.

CPA Scorecard

Of course, results matter. In terms of a score card, my CPA experience was fairly good in terms of tax refund amount and cost. I got a good return, and the cost for his services was in line with my expectation. Pretty good, so far.

  • Financial benefit: A-  
  • Cost: B

The experience was terrible. Un-returned emails. Dismissive tone. Invoices attached to blank emails. Charges for training that I thought was complimentary. Lack of any education and process. I am the one who asked questions and felt like I had to “double-check” the work.  

Oddly, the lack of service made me doubt his content expertise. Intellectually, I knew that his unresponsiveness, and aloof attitude should not impact his ability to analyze and file taxes. . . but there was a crack in the dam of confidence. I just was not sure anymore. Essentially, I could not trust him. If he would not return calls on time, then would he go the extra mile with the IRS? No trust = no relationship.

  • Subject-matter expertise: B- 
  • Customer service: D 

People hire consultants for many reasons.

  • Validate a “hunch”
  • Deliver a difficult message (e.g., layoffs).
  • Provide staff augmentation for a roles that abruptly went empty
  • Conduct some of the analytic “heavy lifting”
  • Access best practices and industry-standards

Paying for security. Clients are ALWAYS hiring consultants for a sense of security. They want to know that they made the right choice. They want to be advised, appreciated, and involved. While it seems like a small thing, I felt this first hand. When I am paying $$ for professional services, I want to feel good about it.

  • “It was a smart decision”
  • “They will protect me.  They have my back.”
  • “They know their stuff.”
  • “I would recommend them to anyone.”

Golden Rule. As a consultant (by profession), who fired a CPA today, it makes me reflect on how professional I am to my clients. How much security is my team giving my client? Does my client feel safer because we are helping them? Am I following the golden rule? Am I treating my client, as I would want to be treated?  

In my CPA’s case, the answer was no.

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2 thoughts on “Firing your CPA (or consultant, or lawyer)

  1. Brandon

    I fired my CPA a year ago. Same issues. To complicate things, he had been a family friend and we had known each other for over 20 years. Unfortunately, that familiarity gave him some sort of unwritten permission to lose his composure with me on multiple occasions when he couldn’t figure out my accounting system. After one-too-many 9:30pm angry voicemails, I decided enough was enough. He was the only person in my world who spoke to me that way and now he is no longer in my world. A good reminder that familiarity can deepen a relationship and strengthen the authenticity of the communication, but authenticity should never equate to a level of lazy, unregulated or unprofessional communication.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. consultantsmind Post author

      Amen. Once in the circle of trust, it’s a chance to take the relationship further and faster, not easier and lazier.

      The upside: with so many un-professional, professional services providers, makes it easier for us to stand-out from the pack. I guess 3rd and 4th quartile performers exist everywhere. Be safe this week.

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