Potential clients often ask us to explain the difference between the service we provide as a smaller firm of accountants compared to that given by their existing large, sometimes multinational, firm. In this blog, Jo Valentino suggests those in any doubt should wake up and smell the coffee.

Perhaps the easiest way to see the difference between the two is to think of a small accountancy firm as an independent coffee shop and a large accountancy firm as a large chain of coffee houses.

Ultimately, the end product is the same, you achieve your caffeine fix. However, the experience of buying the coffee and the quality of the product can vary substantially. It is much the same when it comes to small versus large accountancy firms.

Like a chain of coffee houses, a large accountancy firm has a well-known name. They have their merits in that their products and services are standardised, and they have ample resources. The business model operates on attracting customers through their brand name, which, in the case of accountancy firms, you can name drop to your friends.

A small independent coffee shop’s name is known only by its regulars. Its baristas are on first name terms with the customers, who they chat to each morning. Every barista knows without being told what your morning order is to get you started for the day. The coffee is from an independent supplier, picked by the coffee shop owner for its quality, not its gross profit margin. It is chosen carefully because the owner knows it’s the delicious coffee, plus the customer service, that will bring customers back each day.

The same can be said for a small accountancy firm. The service is purely based around each client. No two clients are treated the same because no two businesses are the same, with the same needs. A small accountancy firm offers a personal service. The staff can spend the time to get to know the business owner and the business’s specific needs. They can present the financial information, not just in a statutory format, but in a way that suits the business.

More often than not, a small accounting firm can offer a service before the client even knows they need it. Not to increase fees, but because the staff know their client so well, they can think about the bigger picture. In a large firm, as there are so many staff, it is hard for them to build relationships and understand the client’s needs without being told. Staff change on a regular basis and because staff are split across numerous departments, it can be hard for anyone to grasp the overall picture. This is not to say that the advice given wouldn’t be enough, but it may only answer the exact questions being asked.

In an independent coffee house, the barista is trained to create the perfect coffee for you. A small firm of accountants is no different. Due to the breadth of knowledge a small firm has, and because staff actively take an interest in their clients, alleviating problems before they arise, there is more time for specific training. Junior staff are trained as they work. They are trained to understand the problems of their clients and how the firm can help. They are not excluded from discussions, and this helps the learning process.

Meanwhile, the senior members of staff have been on client accounts for as long as they can remember. They are uniquely trained in the problems of each business and have a breadth of knowledge that can be delivered as soon as it is needed.

The merits of a small accounting firm speak for themselves.

mgr offers these merits and many more. Not only this, but we make a mean cup of coffee, too!