Your Ultimate New Accounting Client Onboarding Checklist

Your Ultimate New Accounting Client Onboarding Checklist

Securing a new client for your accounting firm requires a tailored onboarding approach. This new accounting client checklist details the critical first steps—from information collection to workflow integration—that help you build a strong foundation for your client partnership.

New Accounting Client Checklist Template Items

  1. Send Welcome Email: Craft and send a personalized welcome email to the new client.

  2. Add to Practice Management Software: Enter the client’s details into your practice management software.

  3. Request Prior Year Tax Returns: Ask the client for their previous year's tax returns for reference.

  4. Schedule Initial Meeting: Arrange a first meeting to discuss goals and expectations.

  5. Prepare Client Intake Form: Create and send a client intake form to gather essential financial information.

  6. Set Up Client File: Organize a file (digital or physical) specifically for the client’s documents.

  7. Review Service Agreement: Draft and review the service agreement with the client.

  8. Obtain Signed Service Agreement: Ensure the service agreement is signed and stored.

  9. Collect Billing Information: Get the client’s billing details and preferred payment method.

  10. Send Information Packet: Provide a packet with detailed information about your services and policies.

  11. Establish Communication Protocols: Agree on preferred methods and frequency of communication.

  12. Introduce Client to Key Team Members: Arrange introductions to the team members who will be working with them.

  13. Set Up Shared Document System: Establish a secure system for sharing and storing documents.

  14. Data Transfer Guidance: Assist the client with secure transfer of their financial data.

  15. Access Client’s Financial Systems: If necessary, request access to their accounting or financial systems.

  16. Compliance Checklist: Go through a compliance checklist to ensure all regulations are met.

  17. Set Up Client in Accounting Software: If using specialized accounting software, set up the client’s account.

  18. Initial Financial Review: Conduct an initial review of the client’s financial situation.

  19. Set Up Calendar Alerts: Create calendar alerts for important deadlines and meetings.

  20. Implement Feedback System: Set up a system for the client to provide regular feedback.

  21. Educational Resources Offering: Share relevant educational resources or materials.

  22. Emergency Contact Information: Provide the client with emergency contact details.

  23. Customized Initial Advice: Offer tailored advice based on the client’s current financials.

  24. Network Introduction: Introduce the client to your professional network if relevant.

  25. Allocate Resources: Ensure proper resources are dedicated to the client’s account.

  26. Establish Performance Metrics: Set key performance indicators for the services you're providing.

  27. Outline Escalation Procedures: Inform the client about the escalation process for any concerns.

  28. Client Portal Orientation: If applicable, guide the client through using the client portal.

  29. Discuss Long-term Goals: Have a conversation about the client’s long-term financial or business goals.

  30. Send Follow-Up Survey: After onboarding, send a survey to evaluate the process and gather feedback.

Key Takeaways

  • Effective client onboarding in accounting is pivotal to establish trust, manage expectations, and lay the foundation for lasting relationships with clients.

  • A comprehensive client onboarding checklist for accounting firms should include key steps like collecting client data, setting clear service scope, accessing past records, employing workflow tools, and continuous customization for individual client needs.

  • Technology, when leveraged correctly, streamlines the onboarding process, enhancing satisfaction and efficiency, while overcoming common challenges in onboarding involves clear communication and structured processes based on regular feedback and industry standards.

The Importance of Client Onboarding in Accounting Firms

Establishing enduring relationships with clients hinges on effective client onboarding in accounting firms. It’s the process that ensures a fantastic start, laying the groundwork for trust, credibility, and client satisfaction, all of which are crucial for fostering enduring relationships.

What’s the best way to establish clear expectations at the outset? A successful client onboarding process helps the accounting firm establish what services they will deliver, avoiding over-promising and potential client dissatisfaction. Clear communication from the start with new clients is essential for setting realistic expectations and building a strong client-firm relationship.

Key Components of an Effective Accounting Client Onboarding Checklist

New accounting client checklist on a desk

Several critical steps are involved when onboarding new clients in accounting firms. These steps, often compiled in a handy accounting client onboarding checklist, include:

  1. Gathering client information

  2. Setting expectations and defining scope

  3. Accessing previous accounting records

  4. Implementing workflow management tools

Each of these components plays a significant role in ensuring a smooth and efficient onboarding process.

Gathering Client Information

The onboarding process cannot proceed without the indispensable step of securing client information through a client questionnaire. It helps set clear expectations, understand communication styles, and collect all the necessary information to align on business goals. So, how can we effectively gather this information? Innovative methods like sending customized tax organizers in bulk, using a client portal like Glasscubes, or sending a digital tax organizer have proven beneficial in gathering this critical information.

We mustn’t overlook the significance of confidentiality. Accounting firms can safeguard this collected client information by implementing measures such as employee confidentiality agreements and secure access controls, which are vital in maintaining trust with clients.

Setting Expectations and Defining Scope

The onboarding process fundamentally involves setting expectations and defining the scope of work. By clearly articulating the service parameters and deliverables, we ensure alignment between the client and the firm. This step prevents scope creep and lays the foundation for a successful and long-term client relationship.

When defining the scope of work, it’s necessary to determine specific tasks and deliverables, and clarify expectations, objectives, and service boundaries. This clear and comprehensive scope agreement helps in conquering scope creep and sets the stage for a fruitful partnership.

Accessing Previous Accounting Records

For a new client’s onboarding, accessing previous accounting records is a critical step. It promotes a seamless transition, boosts efficiency by reducing downtime, and allows for timely scheduling of upcoming tasks. What’s the method for accessing these records? By requesting copies of records from the client, lawyers, or regulatory agencies, and using audit trails to track transactions and accounting details, we can efficiently gain insight into the client’s financial history.

Bear in mind that legal considerations come into play when accessing accounting clients’ previous records, including financial statements, related to their client’s business. As a practitioner, you must promptly return any and all records to the client upon request. Adhering to these legal obligations is crucial in maintaining a robust and trustworthy client-firm relationship.

Implementing Workflow Management Tools

The onboarding process has been revolutionized by workflow management tools. They:

  • Automate processes

  • Streamline workflows

  • Improve efficiency

  • Save your business valuable time

  • Allow you to focus on more complex tasks

What’s the way these tools enhance task assignment and progress tracking during client onboarding? They offer a range of powerful features such as:

  • Task scheduling

  • Progress reporting

  • Time-tracking

  • Task progress tracking

  • Task assignment

  • Collaboration

Using these tools can significantly enhance the efficiency of the onboarding process:

  • Tidyflow

  • Jetpack Workflow

  • Karbon

Customizing Your New Accounting Client Checklist

Customized checklist with client's business logo

To ensure a comprehensive and personalized onboarding process, it’s essential to create a new accounting client checklist tailored to each client’s specific needs. This includes gathering detailed contact information, understanding their business, financial needs, and deliverables, and setting up clients on QuickBooks.

Customization’s strength is its capacity for more effective meeting of individual client needs. By ensuring accessibility to everyone who needs it, the ability to edit it as things change, customizing it to each individual client, and integrating with cloud tools, we can create a highly customized new client checklist that significantly enhances the onboarding process.

Communication Strategies for Successful Onboarding

Successful onboarding hinges on effective communication between the new team member and the company, fostering a strong working relationship. Regular meetings, including weekly check-ins and follow-up meetings, establish a routine for communication, ensuring that both parties are clear on the process, and provide opportunities to address any issues or concerns that may arise.

Initiating the onboarding process with clear instructions can empower clients and build trust. Ensuring effective communication, providing helpful resources, and collecting feedback for continuous improvement can iterate and adapt the onboarding process, resulting in significant improvements.

Leveraging Technology to Streamline Onboarding

With the advent of the digital age, technology serves as a potent tool for streamlining the onboarding process. By embracing technology, we can:

  • Save valuable time

  • Enhance both employee and customer satisfaction

  • Simplify the current onboarding process

  • Automate repetitive tasks using cutting-edge customer onboarding software.

Several accounting firms have successfully harnessed the power of cloud-based technology and automation tools to streamline their client onboarding process. Utilizing a range of powerful tools such as Zapier, Content Snare, and specialized onboarding software can significantly elevate your client onboarding process.

Common Challenges in Accounting Client Onboarding and How to Overcome Them

Challenges are inherent in the onboarding process. Misaligned expectations, scope creep, and delays in starting are common issues that might arise during the process. Overcoming these challenges involves setting clear expectations, defining boundaries, and structuring the onboarding process effectively.

Addressing these challenges unlocks opportunities to enhance the onboarding process. By mastering back-and-forth communication, overcoming communication breakdowns, and streamlining disconnected systems and manual processes, we can ensure a smooth and efficient onboarding process for our clients.

Tips for Continuously Improving Your Onboarding Process

The onboarding process is dynamic and ever-changing. It should be continuously reviewed and adjusted based on client feedback and industry best practices to ensure a consistently positive client experience. This involves:

  • Asking specific questions to recognize any deficiencies

  • Maintaining constant communication

  • Providing helpful resources

  • Collecting feedback for continuous improvement

Following industry best practices such as:

  • Setting clear expectations

  • Customizing the experience to meet individual client needs

  • Prioritizing effective communication

  • Diligently gathering data for informed decision-making

can significantly enhance the client onboarding process overall.


To summarize, the client onboarding process in accounting firms is a dynamic process that lays the foundation for a successful business relationship. It involves several key steps, including gathering client information, setting expectations, accessing previous accounting records, and implementing workflow management tools. Overcoming the common challenges that arise during this process and continuously improving the process based on client feedback and industry best practices can ensure a smooth and efficient onboarding process for new clients.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I onboard a new accounting client?

To onboard a new accounting client, create a thorough onboarding checklist including signed contract, welcome email, access to previous accounting systems, accounts, inventory records, previous invoices, and taxation. Ensure to cover pre-work phase, create a roadmap, make contact, define engagement, break down requests, provide resources, train the client, and then begin the work.

How do I land my first bookkeeping client?

To land your first bookkeeping client, use LinkedIn actively and optimize your profile by highlighting your expertise in the accounting field with relevant keywords. Make sure your profile is complete and professional to make a great impression on potential clients.

What does a bookkeeper need from their clients?

Your bookkeeper needs detailed information about your business operations, including income, liabilities, and employee details, to maintain accurate records and provide you with the best financial guidance.

Why is client onboarding crucial in accounting firms?

Client onboarding is crucial in accounting firms because it establishes long-term relationships, sets clear expectations, and ensures a smooth transition for new clients. It is essential for laying a strong foundation for successful collaboration.

What are the key components of an effective client onboarding checklist?

The key components of an effective client onboarding checklist include gathering client information, setting expectations, defining scope, accessing previous accounting records, and implementing workflow management tools. This helps ensure a smooth and organized onboarding process for new clients.