Accountants: How to successfully provide legal services to your clients
Can accountants offer legal support to clients?
Whether or not accountants can provide legal support to their clients has often been viewed as a grey area, especially by clients – who are happy to place trust in them. However, the reality is that accountants are unable to provide legal advice without the input of a solicitor. That’s because accountants lack the legal regulation required to confidentially discuss legal matters with their clients. If they did, any information shared by their client would be open to disclosure, which could lead to serious consequences for the client if investigated.
This means a client needs to be referred to a solicitor to receive advice regarding any legal matter. Even if their accountant is able to start the process, a solicitor will likely be needed to finish it. For example, if an individual client required help with organising their taxes, their accountant would be able to ensure tax compliance, whereas a solicitor would be needed to draft tax planning documents, like trusts. Or, if a business needed help selling part of their company, their accountant would be able to sort the financial data, whereas a lawyer would be needed to oversee the documentation.
How does this impact accountants and their clients?
Whilst a referral to a solicitor is often essential, it can have a significant impact on accountants and their clients.
Accountants work extremely hard to ensure they are meeting all of their clients’ needs and providing them with the support they require. So, when an accountant has to refer their client to a solicitor, they risk losing control of the services their client receives and the relationship they’ve worked so hard to establish. This is often made worse by the lack of guarantee that their clients will receive the level of service expected or that they’ll be referred on to other accountants, even if by mistake. What’s at stake is the client relationship. What’s more, the rules for solicitors mean it’s very hard to provide a referral fee to the accountant. So, there’s no money and a lot of risk in a referral!
However, what’s difficult for accountants is even more challenging for their clients. Whether they’re an individual looking to set up a trust or a business looking to prepare an employment contract, clients will often be referred to a number of advisers. This can make the referral process extremely confusing, with clients quickly losing track of who they need to contact for certain issues.
How accountants can provide legal and accounting services
What’s needed is a way for accountants to offer legal advice to their clients. This would enable accountants to become the single point of contact for their clients and simplify the process for both parties involved. Accountants understand their own regulation but may well not want to deal with or be able to operate under the equivalent rules for delivering legal advice without significant cost and disruption.
Luckily, this is where the Bamboo Platform steps in.
The Bamboo Platform is a law firm operating system, which can enable accountants to provide legal support to their clients. As a flexible platform, Bamboo can be adapted to fit the structure of your current business model. This means you can quickly and efficiently start offering your clients a more streamlined set of legal and financial services, without the need for referrals. Should you find yourself needing the support of a legal expert, the team at Bamboo is on hand to help you deliver legal services to your clients.
If you’re an accountant interested in expanding your services to better meet the needs of your clients, feel free to get in touch to find out more about the Bamboo Platform.