How Accountants Can Leverage Fee Funding
The rise of accounting fee funding solutions and other types of new fee funding that became popular during the pandemic have now become a standard and expected payment option for consumers.
Traditional billing remains the primary choice for millions of consumers, especially those from older demographic groups and with higher net wealth. But for younger consumers, fee funding solutions will be a key factor in choosing which accountant or firm they engage for services.
This is especially prevalent among those who just started to seek accountants for financial services. Generally, consumers end up using the same accounting firm for the entirety of their adult lives. However, firms cannot rule out offering fee funding options to customers and prospects just beginning their professional careers, and the potential long-standing relationships they may develop with their accountant or firm.
The Growing Trend of Alternative Fee Options
Accounting firms and other businesses are increasingly adapting to the preferences and available options of a new generation of consumers. Therefore, numerous alternative plans for payment of services have emerged.
Flat Fees are typically a single, all-inclusive charge for a designated and limited amount of work. Often associated with large, “storefront” accounting firms, flat fees are primarily utilized by consumers with smaller incomes and limited assets. Flat fees usually do not include extensive consultation services, and the amount of “face time” between client and accountant is limited, usually to a single meeting. While flat fees are only viable for a small and very specific group of consumers, they can also serve as a valuable “entry point” for clients who’s accounting needs–and accompanying services and fees–will continue to grow over the years.
Hourly Fees are common in many different professions and are based on a “per-hour” rate set by the accountant or firm. Hourly fees include the time spent on planning, consulting with the client, the number of hours spent completing the actual work, and any time required post completion of the designated project. Hourly fees are popular because it’s easy for clients to see the number of hours being billed for the work that’s been completed. One challenge with hourly fees is explaining to clients exactly how many hours are required for a given task, the added costs of unplanned work, and the fact that clients will be charged for items like additional consultation services.
Blended Fees utilize a combination of fee models and are designed to best serve the needs of the client while providing proper compensation for the accountant or firm. Blended fees may include an initial flat fee to cover services like a consultation and upfront work. After the work covered in the flat fee is completed, the accountant may charge an hourly rate or other agreed upon amount for work on any additional or unplanned services. Blended fees provide transparency to the client, as well as ensure that the accountant is adequately compensated for the value of services delivered.
What is Fee Funding?
Fee funding is a payment plan option that gives customers the option to purchase products or services while paying for them in installments over time. Regardless of whether they make the payments, the merchant is paid in full upfront. This allows consumers to get the goods and services they need without worrying about having the funds to pay the full balance upfront, or needing to rely on other money lending services. This also greatly benefits the merchant, who can now maintain a steady cash flow and offer their services to more consumers who might otherwise choose another merchant that can satisfy their need for a flexible payment option.
Fee Funding vs. Traditional Payment Plans
Fee funding and traditional payment plans share some similarities, but you’ll want to choose the plan that works best for you and your clients. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each payment plan.
- Appeals to a greater number of potential clients
- Increases consistent cash flow
- Guarantees payments in full
- Increases the speed at which you get paid
- Positions your firm as a leader in modern service options
- Can be intimidating to implement
- Clients may not want to apply for fee funding
- Difficult to offer for cash payments
Traditional Payment Plans
- Simple to understand for clients and merchants
- Familiar for many clients
- Clients can choose to pay with cash
- Requires management and tracking to ensure full payment over time
- Can result in unpaid invoices or collections
- Small deposits over time, slowing down cash flow
What is Driving the Popularity of Fee Funding?
While fee funding initially gained momentum with online shoppers during the pandemic, the benefits to both consumers and vendors became readily apparent. Consumers and clients get what they want immediately, knowing they can pay for the product or service over a fixed amount of time— in many cases with no hidden interest or late fees.
Merchants benefit by finalizing the purchase of their product or service immediately. This not only reduces the time-to-payment, but also helps to minimize the amount of follow-up and outreach required before a service is paid. In addition, those who offer fee funding are growing the number of younger consumers purchasing their products or services, as well as seeing an increase in the value of services sold. The growing popularity of fee funding is also extending to consumers with greater spending power, which is luring more premium merchants to offer the service.
Why do Accounting Firms Need Fee Funding?
As payment models evolve, more professionals and firms are providing accounting fee funding solutions as a service to clients. Beyond the benefits listed above, fee funding enables accountants to have their services paid for upfront, while clients make payments on a regular basis, based on clearly defined repayment terms.
The advantages of fee funding serve both parties. The client knows exactly how much they will owe with a set number of smaller payments scheduled over an established time frame. This is an increasingly attractive option for consumers in a time of growing economic uncertainty.
Furthermore, adopting modern payment options, like accounting fee funding, can increase the profitability of your business. By positioning your firm as a leader in adopting new technologies, you’ll also draw in greater accounting talent, and reduce the amount of time spent on unnecessary tasks.
How to Offer Clients Fee Funding
While there are many fee lending solutions available, not all of them were made with the specific needs of the accounting industry in mind. CPACharge offers an accounting fee funding solution, powered by Affirm, made specifically for accounting professionals to provide a client-centric experience while maintaining a steady cash flow.
With CPACharge, you receive the full invoiced amount upfront, while your clients pay in installments over time. A third party lender, Affirm, handles the collection of installment payments, and you’re never responsible for the unpaid balance.
Get Paid Upfront with Affirm
Now is the time to explore how accounting fee funding and fee lending solutions can help flourish your business by offering new payment options that are growing in popularity with a broad range of consumers. While traditional payment methods haven’t entirely disappeared, more consumers will expect a modern and personalized payment experience that works for them. The future success of your business will depend on whether you’ve adopted the new technologies that will one day become the norm.
Discover how you can get paid faster, increase cash flow, and eliminate tedious tasks with CPACharge. Schedule a demo today!