I recently reviewed the book “Effective client management in professional services – how to build successful client relationships” by Jack Berkovi (see http://kimtasso.com/book-review-effective-client-management-professional-services-build-effective-client-relationships-jack-berkovi/ ) and have summarised below the key points of some of the Accountancy marketing case studies for ease of reference:


  • Allan Evans is on the global board to ensure consistency in relationship management processes, structures and disciplines across the network
  • “The same experience must occur wherever BDO does business. This is critical for mid-sized firms. For example, the Net Promoter Score system is becoming mandatory for all member firms”
  • There is a managed client programme for those clients needing a tailored service related to size, work complexity or international scope
  • Client feedback is sought annually within a structured national programme and also on a project by project basis at several points in the year. Social media is also monitored
  • “Be prepared to publish targets and results and measure down to individual level and share satisfaction scores with clients”
  • Benchmarks against other firms and rewards are influenced by satisfaction results

Grant Thornton


  • Scott Barnes was elected CEO in 2008 following the merger with Robson Rhodes in 2007
  • He set an ambitious target of doubling profit per partner and restructured the firm in the first six months
  • The firm adopted a balanced scorecard process (see http://kimtasso.com/using-kaplan-and-nortons-balanced-scorecard-as-a-business-planning-tool/)
    • An example client priority was: “increase the level of measured client satisfaction in the highest scoring zone from 60% to 75%”
    • An example people priority was: “all employees to have a formal, agreed personal development plan within three months” which included client facing objectives
    • There was an internal communications campaign and regular review meetings to ensure everyone knew how the firm performed in the four key areas
    • Values developed with acronym CLEARR – Collaboration, Leadership, Excellence, Agility, Respect and Responsibility
    • It has achieved continuous growth since 2008 and now has an ambition to be a £500m revenue organisation by 2015
    • It has won numerous awards for both client service excellence and management


  • Bradley Neill became International Brand Manager of Grant Thornton International in 2013
  • He works with five regional marketing managers to ensure consistent application around the world
  • He is raising the quality of all printed and digital materials across the global network by implementing regional design hubs and a list of accredited local suppliers to increase brand compliance
  • The current strapline “An instinct for growth” has met with wide acclaim from employees and clients
  • There are global training and development initiatives to establish appropriate behaviours
  • Regular audits of the brand are undertaken and he manages the legal aspects of brand protection across multiple jurisdictions

Global Key Accounts

  • Darren Cox was appointed Global Key Account Management
  • “Strategic approach essential….focused business strategy that concentrates on those clients that are of the highest corporate value in terms of income, profitability and growth”
  • Requirements of a KAM programme:
    • Board level sponsor
    • Alignment with firm’s strategic plan
    • Appropriate behaviours in place through coaching and mentoring
    • Selection of the right clients
    • Appropriate value proposition for each client
    • Needs assessment so action plans are realistic
    • Defined team member responsibilities and KPIs
    • Mechanism to reward non-billable time invested
    • Budgetary flexibility to support KAM (30-40% of a high earning partner’s time)
    • Measurement and reporting (ideally by a third party) against annual objectives
    • Measure and monitor profitability of business with the client
    • Full time resource spending at least one day a week with the client
    • Appropriate supporting structure to underpin the relationship and monitor satisfaction
    • Sensitive to cultural and international differences to ways of working
    • A feedback process involving the client at least annually
    • Celebration of success
    • Acceptance that we learn from success and failure
    • Facilitated workshops are used with two client teams so that they challenge each other’s plans – followed by regular reviews through video and teleconferencing
  • “In my experience, KAM works better in some cultures than others and are often driven by the West”
  • A dedicated internal portal allows communication between team members and across the firm
  • Balanced score card used by managing partners to ensure KAM KPIs are delivered
  • Client selection criteria include:
    • Fit with firm’s global industry groups
    • Whether a formal master service agreement or preferred supplier agreement is in place
    • Revenues in excess of $1 million per year for past three years with growth potential
    • Multiple service line opportunities identified
    • Geographic fit
    • Established relationships with senior head office buyers and influencers
    • Availability of lead partner for non-billable time
    • Local business development resources

RSM International

  • Jean Stephens has been CEO of RSM International since 2006 – it has 700 offices and over 32,000 people (7th in global fee income)
  • Strict selection criteria for new member firms
    • Stage one – Conduct desk research, hold exploratory meetings where vision and strategy are considered
    • Stage two – Review of firm’s quality infrastructure and how leadership (“the tone from the top”) is established. Existing client base reviewed with a focus on sectors, international reach and size. Synergy of the firms is important.
    • Stage three – Technical due diligence where processes and procedures are reviewed and compared
  • There are many policies to ensure consistency – high quality of client service is in all communication
  • Monthly managing partner bulletin and internal news bulletin for staff
  • Global leader for quality and risk recently appointed and there is a global audit methodology along with standards for tax and risk assurance. And an annual inspection programme for monitoring member firms’ plans, training and accountability – firms critique each other
  • There is an RSM Academy – now in its eighth year – a leadership and specialist training programme to increase their international client skills and capabilities
  • It has created global engagement leaders for management of multi-country clients
  • Annual conferences in all regions as well as a three day annual global conference and there are regional operating groups and centres of excellence
  • Transition programme for firms leaving the network to minimise impact on clients
  • “Connected for growth” is an international business development project providing member firms with the skills and tools needed to engage in cross-border BD strategies. It has pricing and scoping tools to enhance value to clients and project management tools to aid client satisfaction. There is also a skills development programme providing high value training to create Global Engagement Leaders.

The book also contains a case study of developing the ICAEW brand.