Price increases and value. Is the price increase tolerable for your client because they see value in your service? This question punched us in the face recently. Michael, our client, was about to leave as he got a cheaper price. He said to me “as my financial advisor what would you advise me to do?” We will get to my answer later.
Taking the lyrics from the Clash song, for Michael, it was a case of
“Should I Stay or Should I Go?” Let’s look at
- How we price
- Issue for Michael
- Higher price for advisory service
At the start of this year, we decided to increase our prices. This wasn’t a case of increasing them for the sake of it because everyone else is. Our costs have gone up. The main cost for us is our team here. They have all got wage increases. Again, not for the sake of it but because they work hard and a very good at what they do.
As a growing business we want to keep our staff. From a quality and service delivery point of view it’s good for us and our clients. It’s a difficult time to get people so the key for us is what you have you hold.
In some cases, the service level had increased but we were still charging the same price as years ago. We were doing less work back then but that had changed, and we were negligent by not increasing our fees. Like the young lad walking into the shop with €1.20 and wanting to buy a bar of chocolate and a packet of crisps. He could get the chocolate for €1.20 but not the crisps. Both would be €2. The shop would close if the shopkeeper was giving out the crisps for free!
To be upfront with clients, before we started any work we wrote to them or gave them a new proposal.
How we price – Tax returns
For a very basic tax return we charge about €500 plus Vat. That is the entry level price. And what do you get for that? You get
- An Income Tax checklist to complete
- Income Tax computation
- Prepare and file your Return on ROS
- A cover letter setting out your refund or liability and tax payment dates
- Processing your tax payment
- Review of the assessment that issues
- Deal with any queries from Revenue about your return
After that, the cost will depend on what we have to do but the more you have the more work for us. If you have one rental property, the extra cost for that will be €150 plus Vat. But for that we will need to complete a
- Rental income computation and
- A Capital allowances computation
A client with two properties will pay more. You need a separate rental computation for each property. Then if you have shares, we will need to calculate the dividends and so on.
Reducing your liability
But we will also ensure you get all the tax reliefs and tax credits to reduce your liability as much as possible. Typical examples would include
- Medical expenses claim
- Medical insurance credit where an employer pays this
- College fees
- Homecarer credit
- Remote working expenses
- Flat rate expenses
- Single Parent credit
- Maintenance payments
- Covenants for parents
- Pension payments
Our overriding goal is that your tax return is right and that you only pay what you have to. The reason behind the checklist is to ensure your return is as accurate as possible. This protects you. If Revenue come calling you know your return is right and you paid what you owed, but no more.
Issue for Michael
Michael came to us 4 years ago from a bigger firm. He’d pay us more but was happy to do that for our location and service quality. I wrote to him a few weeks ago and did a loom video with a new proposal.
Not at all happy with the increase he was taking a stance. As a result, he was leaving, although not wanting to, and started the process by pricing around. An e-mail came through to say that “I will be in touch to collect my belongings.”
We didn’t want him to go either. The main reasons for that were
- His fee was good, and we don’t want to lose fees
- We liked working with him and had given him good service
- He wasn’t a messer and wanted things done right
- He’s well known and didn’t want him leaving on bad terms
I had a phone call with him to explain where we were coming from with the increase. We got back a very nice email after.
“It’s important for me to stress. The stance I am taking on the above is not to reflect, in any way, on the service I have received from Ludmila and Dee. Both of whom are gems.”
So, complimentary of the team, but still leaving. Dee set up a meeting for us to meet. He agreed to it which I took as a positive, but we still had his paperwork ready if it didn’t go well. I had some convincing to do. The meeting started with how he had priced around. All the prices he got were for less than what we were charging. And that was before the increase.
This wasn’t going well, and I was under pressure. Plus, a friend of his who has a few rental properties, and some shares, was paying a lot less. On top of that the prices he got were from reputable firms. He felt that he would get a quality service from those firms, so the question came. “As my financial advisor what do you advise me to do”?
Squirming and sweating the pressure was mounting. My chance to speak. My initial answer was that if our service was only based on price then the correct thing to do was to leave. If other factors were important to him to bridge the gap between our price and a lower price, then he should stay.
The main other factors were;
- We had his tax history for the last 4 years
- Service quality. He knows the service he gets from us but is not 100% sure he’d get that service elsewhere.
- One of our values. We were there for him when he needed extra help with other taxes like LPT.
- A tax consultant puts his tax return together and a tax consultant reviews it. This gives him value to ensure the quality is good and everything is right.
Michael agreed to stay. We agreed a fee and agreed that if there was extra work, like CGT on share sales, we would price for that. He thought that was fair and we shook hands on it.
Higher Price for Advisory Service
What do you get for the price you pay? If price is your main issue, then we are not the firm for you. We want to give you all the services you need to ensure everything is right and add value where we can. That protects you and helps you pay the correct tax liability and no more. Or you get the correct tax refund.
Recent examples of us adding value to clients include
Extending the accounting date
By extending the accounting date we saved Mary €3900 in 2022. Mary’s business was doing well. So much so that she set up a company to take over the trade from the 1st of March 2023. She prepares accounts every year to 31 December. We extended the accounting date to the date of cessation of the sole trade. Moving to a 14-month accounting period, she will pay tax on 12/14ths of the profit in 2022. The other 2 months fall into 2023.
Tax refunds for 2022 and 2021
Noel is a lecturer in the college and was having problems with his taxes. He had no tax credits or lower rate band with his main income. We fixed his tax credits and rate band so he gets paid the correct amount plus he got a refund of overpaid taxes. Noel and Raquel have been paying college fees for two children. Plus, they have some medical expenses to claim.Due to an error with their taxes, they owe Revenue €1900 for 2022. We advised them about the rent tax credit for 2022. With this credit and
- Tuition fees
- Medical expenses including prescriptions, and
- Flat rate expenses
Their tax liability of €1900 will change to a tax refund of €1150. That’s a swing of €2950 in their favour. And, on a review of 2021, they will get back a further €1700.
Bonus for a company director
Paul’s only income for 2022 was rental income. As he’s single, his tax credit is the personal tax credit of €1700. But he has his own company, and another accountant looks after that for him. We advised him to put through a bonus of €9000 for 2022. Once he does that before the end of June 2023 it can go into his 31 December 2022 accounts. That bonus will come into his 2022 tax return.
The advantage for Paul is that he gets a deduction in his company against his corporation tax profit. As it is a consultancy company the deduction will be at 20%. In his 2022 tax return he will get an extra tax credit called the Earned Income Credit. That credit is worth €1700 to him. As a result, the tax payable on the extra income will be at lower tax rates and he will save Corporation Tax.
Deducting our fees
Where it is possible we deduct our fees. This can be as an expense
- In the Profit and Loss account of the business
- Against rental income computations
- In your Capital Gains Tax computation
An individual pays us €1000 plus Vat for an Income Tax return with some rental properties. The outlay is €1230. That person pays tax at 52%. By writing off the fees in full the net cost to the client is 48%. The net cost is €590.
It was a result that Michael stayed. We don’t want clients walking out the door giving out about us. If he didn’t stay it’s not going to make or break the business. But that’s not the point. We like him and like working for him. Lose one Michael ok but lose five and there’s a problem.
For us the challenge is to keep all clients happy and have them talking to other people about us. To do that they must get value for the price they pay. But it’s up to us to communicate that value too. Choosing the right accountant is important for you and your business.
Clients are very loyal to their accountants and that’s a good thing, in most cases. Blind loyalty for a very poor service but a low fee is not a good thing. The price is the driver then and you are not looking for value.
Do you need help with your bookkeeping, accounts, or taxes? If so, Start here