The self-employed workforce is ever-growing. According to the ONS, the number of self-employed workers increased by 50,000 to 4.81 million in 2017. With this growth comes an increased need for specialist accountants.

As a specialist accountant, it is important that we understand the unique challenges faced by the self-employed. The self-employed lifestyle can be unpredictable at times, and as accountants, it can fall to us to be their support network, their ally, and their partner. It is likely that your role will be more hands on, and you will be doing more than crunching numbers, especially in the early days of your client’s business.

As the nature of our work changes and clients’ expectations increase, it is important that we adapt our working style to meet the needs of contractors and freelancers. Here are some ways you can adapt your working style to better meet the needs of your self-employed clients.

Listen to what your clients need

The needs of our clients can vary widely depending on their experience, their understanding of the industry, and their business goals. It is our responsibility to understand what they are looking for from their accountant and to deliver this service accordingly.

More than ever, accountants are finding ways to automate processes and though this means a more efficient service for clients, there is less opportunity for us to communicate. Although technology is one of our greatest assets during work, opening channels of communication with clients can be invaluable when helping us to better understand their needs.

No two clients will be the same, nor will the service they require from their accountant. Taking the time to understand what they need and adapting to meet this will help to better support them. In an industry in which processes are becoming increasingly automated, the extra communication you have with your clients will make a big difference.

Stay flexible

As their accounting partner, your accommodation and flexibility can make a big difference to your relationship. The self-employed are unlikely to work the conventional nine to five, so it would make sense for their accountant to not always follow this strict regime either.

Consider liaising with your clients to agree hours of availability or find alternative ways to communicate. Utilise technology to find a method which works for your client – Skype and WhatsApp are two examples which could work well.

Always be open with information

As financial experts, it’s easy to take for granted that our clients understand everything about accounting, when they might not. As they look to you for advice, it’s crucial that you’re always open and forward with information.

Stay up to date with industry changes

The world of contracting is ever-changing, and in such a fast-paced environment, it’s important that you have your finger on the pulse.

As accountants, your knowledge is invaluable to clients, so you should be first to know about any changes which affect them. Contractors will usually choose a specialist as they are likely to receive more guidance and knowledge than with a high street accountant.

 

Find out more about managing self-employed clients by visiting the Nixon Williams resource centre.

 

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