One of the most common complaints I hear from prospective clients deals with wait time. In today’s fast-paced environment, they want answers to their tax questions right away.
As a tax professional, I am certainly empathetic to these concerns. Until recently, however, the economics of professional service firms meant that delays were part of the equation.
But there’s been a change.
A successful business today does not have time to wait for the wheels of an accounting firm to turn.
When your sales team has a sales tax question, they’re probably looking at a customer order today, not next week. When the CEO wants to understand the implications of signing a contract in India, he or she doesn’t have time for someone to do the research; research which is then reviewed by someone else and finally signed off on by the person who actually knew the answer to start with. It’s totally upside down.
If you had an in-house tax director to whom you’d posed the question and he told the VP of sales that he’d have an answer next week, he’d likely be looking for a new job next week.
The difference is simple: Professional liability exposure. Accounting firms are risk averse and have a significant number of inexperienced personnel. And, more often than not, those employees are usually on the front lines receiving these questions. They don’t know the answer and often don’t actually understand the question.
As a result, not until the director or partner gets involved does the firm properly consider the issue. By then, they’ve expended 10 hours researching the wrong issue and are a week into the project.
Let me re-emphasize the point that time is often spent researching the wrong question. It’s not that the answer to the question is wrong, but very often the lack of experience by the tax professional results in a failure to properly diagnose the problem. Many hours and fees later, you realize you’ve solved the wrong problem.
VPTax fractional tax directors have “done it before.” As experienced former in-house corporate tax directors and Big 4 partners and managers, we don’t separate ourselves from the front lines. We are constantly in touch with clients. By fully appreciating a client’s individual risk/reward profile, we can provide timely and balanced answers to client questions.
Our clients are more comfortable with the whole process because we help them understand issues and manage tax priorities. As a result, you get answers and recommendations you can actually implement because they’re relevant, timely and practical.