How to break up with clients

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If you missed our recent webinar on prepping for tax season unconventionally, not to worry. You can still catch the content on our YouTube channel.

One of the ways we discussed preparing for tax season is calling it quits with clients that aren’t profitable or don’t fit the model of what is an ideal project for your practice. It is always hard to give up work, but breaking up with less-than-ideal clients gives us the time and energy to focus on attracting new, more enjoyable clients.

How do you actually go about terminating an engagement though? A disengagement letter is always recommended. This helps you to spell out the terms of exactly how your current contract will be ending, who is responsible for what and what final billing may look like.
The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) offers a plethora of sample engagement letters as well as a sample disengagement letter. The disengagement letter is short, polite and to the point.

You can find the template HERE:

A key piece the sample letter addresses is alerting your client to the need for them to sign releases. As it is likely that they will need to send their new CPA firm information that you currently maintain, asking them to consider signing releases at the time of disengagement may help to make the process more efficient in transitioning information.

The AICPA’s insurance program also recommends these tips when sending disengagement letters:

  • Make sure the delivery method is traceable to ensure documentation of its receipt
  • Address specifically any work in process and outstanding fees
  • Clearly communicate what your soon to be former client is responsible for
  • Clearly communicate the status of any records retention, and how long your client will continue to have access

Make sure firm administrators have reviewed any termination letters and if you’re still unsure, consider asking general counsel or your insurance company to take a second look.

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