Why We Appreciate Client Referrals So Much

San Francisco accountant Charles SterckSterck Kulik O’Neill is very appreciative when its clients recommend the firm to their friends and co-workers.

We say, “Thank you!” for suggesting that your friends trust their accounting work to us!

Why do we like clients referrals so much?

  • Clients already know our firm’s strengths and focus.  When they match us up with someone they know, they’ve already decided that we might be a good fit for what their friends need.
  • Referred clients are more likely to be ready for accounting services.  They have had a chance to talk to our client about what services are available.  They’ve made a decision that what we do will help them achieve financial success.
  • Referred clients are more likely to be active in their community and have successful businesses.  Just the fact that they knew someone to ask for a recommendation shows that they are engaged and involved.  That social interaction is good for business, and bodes well for the potential client.
  • When clients refer people to us, we feel validated.  You don’t suggest that your friends use a bad service or product. So, when someone tells us that Sally Jones suggested that they call us, we are happy to know that Sally thinks highly of the work we do for her.  We like the external sign that we are doing a good job.

Although the push for individual income tax preparation has not even started for 2012, already people are calling into our office are asking if we’re “accepting” new clients.   We don’t often say, “Yes, please refer your friends to us.”  But,  if you know someone who needs business development, accounting, or tax help, please tell them about us.  We’re not just accepting new clients, we’re welcoming them!


What to do About the Bank of America’s New Debit Card Charge

The Bank of America says that in 2012 it is going to start charging $60 a year if people want to use their debit cards for purchases. What should you do?

Bank of America LogoThe answer is easy: don’t use a debit card from the Bank of America. In fact, don’t even get one.

Regardless of how much the BofA — or any bank — decides to charge for debit card use, I suggest that you don’t use ANY debit cards. Debit cards are not consumer-friendly cards. Sterck Kulik O’Neill wrote about the problem one of our team members had with a fraudulent charge on a debit card in a May newsletter (and see the gory details in his blog).  We also linked to news stories outlining how risky debit cards are.

Basically, debit cards don’t have the legal protection that credit cards do.  If you qualify for a credit card, then use the credit card instead of using a debit card, and pay the balance off every month.

Compounding the weakness of debit cards, the Bank of America wants to charge you for using this inferior payment tool.  Paying makes ZERO sense, especially since banks make a lot of money from merchant fees when their cards are used.  (A new Federal law limits how much banks can charge merchants for debit card use, but the charge is still way more that the bank’s cost per transaction.)

Just say NO.  No to using a debit card from Bank of America or from anyone else.

Fall back position:  if you are going to ignore the suggestion to abstain from debit card use and you don’t like BoA’s proposed charges, it’s probably time for you to sit down and figure out how much you’re willing to pay for convenient banking. Don’t stop at ATM fees.  Get all the information out on the table.

All of the major banks are on a fee binge.  Wells Fargo announced a $15/month fee on some previously free checking accounts, and Chase is piling on fees, too.

These institutions have ATMs on every city block and branches in your grocery store.   All of that infrastructure comes at a cost… to you! If you don’t like the fee options and decide you can live with less convenience, investigate using a smaller regional bank or else sign up with a credit union. A smaller bank or a credit union may not charge for your accounts or debit cards, but they don’t have the ATM network or so many branches.

Only you can decide if $5/month or $15/month is a reasonable charge for the large bank’s convenience.  Before you leap because of an ATM fee or other single charge, look at the whole picture of what your bank wants from you each month.  If you decide to switch, Consumers’ Report has online tips, including a PDF checklist of steps to follow when you move your account.