In the Q – Episode 1: How to utilise your support staff to build strong client relationships

We are launching our new podcast: In the Q with Bruce Coombes. Bruce welcomes thought leaders to discuss the best business advice for accounting and law firms. Tune in while you’re “In the Q”, waiting for your coffee in the morning or during your commute to work, and be inspired to grow your practice at the start of your day.

For our first episode, our Managing Director Bruce Coombes sits down with Alistair Marshall, Director of Professional Services Business Development, to chat about utilising your support staff to build strong client relationships.

Watch the episode here:


Click here to listen to the podcast:


Alistair Marshall

Alistair Marshall has huge empathy with professionals who never get taught how to build their practice and this challenge has been exacerbated with the arrival of Covid 19 which has restricted the availability of random acts of coffee and lunch.

He has more than 30 years of experience in business development. His fast and proven solutions have helped law firms, accountancy practices, banks, engineers and other professionals to quickly attract new clients and win more new business.

Alistair has worked in business development for multi-national corporations, with responsibility for budgets in excess of A$100m.


Professional Services BD

Professinal Services BD specialises in helping professional services firms to become more successful.

They  provide business development services to lawyers, barristers, accountants, bankers and wealth managers, infrastructure and engineering firms, digital agencies, ICT and software consultants.

 Learn more:

In the Spotlight – Michelle Messer, MJM Accountants

This month, QuickFee is launching In the Spotlight to recognise legal and accounting practitioners who demonstrate innovation, success, and commitment throughout their work. 

Each month, we will select individuals or firms to acknowledge the positive impact they have had on their community or their industry sector. If you think you know someone who fits the bill, please send us a 100-word summary to telling us why they deserve recognition.

Submission criteria:

  • The legal or accounting professional has shown an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction while still assuring the profitability and viability of their business or profession.
  • They have helped a client turn around business profits with innovative business opportunities.
  • They have outperformed their peers in their sectors, market segments and geographical areas in terms of community service.


In the Spotlight – Michelle Messer, MJM Accountants

Michelle Messer from the QLD-based accounting firm MJM Accountants is our first to be In the Spotlight. MJM Accountants, founded in 1992 by Michelle and her parents, focuses on bringing colour and fun to the accounting industry. Michelle’s vibrant personality brings a breath of fresh air and just seemed like the perfect way to launch our new Spotlight series.

It’s fair to say that Michelle likes to do things a little differently. Whether she is running the practice, painting watercolours, or creating comic books, Michelle manages to be both effervescent and down to earth at the same time – which is an approach that she has carried through to her practice.


From the vibrant and engaging superhero theme branding to their love of a good night out, this is one firm that doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter mould of most suburban firms. Their website even challenges this stereotype by asking, “Who says accountants are boring?”

Beyond being a successful business owner, Michelle ensures that fun is the core of everything she does, which means that the team at MJM Accountants also does things a little differently.


The team has built a profitable book of clients who love working with them while maintaining their positive outlook and creating a sustainable work/life balance.

They are firm believers of flexi-time, and for every minute someone works over their contracted 38 hours each week, they get time off as compensation. They also don’t hesitate to cross over roles within the team, with everyone jumping in to answer calls or complete admin work or anything else that needs completing. Michelle says that this all-hands-on deck model works so well because they don’t have any deadwood in the team. Instead, every team member wants to be there and support each other and the company. 


They are a tightly bonded group that is intent on having fun. Like the time that the whole firm rented camper vans and took a road trip to Melbourne – alternating driving duties with completing tax returns – so that Michelle could don a horse costume and take part in Hamish and Andy’s Race That Slows Down the Nation. Their clients loved it, with many following them along the way on Instagram. 



Their culture is founded on having fun, and they are so serious about maintaining a positive culture that they don’t tolerate demanding customers. Therefore, all potential clients need to meet with the firm in a two-way interview process whereby the team must agree they are the right fit before coming on board. By doing this, Michelle says they ensure they have a great group of clients who refer other great people.


Through initiatives like this, Michelle has built a loyal client base and an even more loyal team that genuinely enjoys the work they do and the people they work alongside.

But Michelle’s work-life looked very different seven years ago. 


Her days were filled with back-to-back client meetings and phone calls, and to get the work done, she was consistently having early starts and late finishes – all with a young family at home. So, Michelle knew there had to be a better way of doing things.


It wasn’t until she attended a few medical appointments that she noticed that most specialists have specific days each week when they see patients – a very standard practice in the medical field. Which begged the question… if a patient is happy to accept this from their doctor – why would they not accept the same from their accountant?


So, in 2015 Michelle’s practice implemented something they call Client Days. These are two scheduled days per week purely dedicated to meeting with clients, meaning the remaining days are free to spend getting through the workload. With balance restored to their days and stress levels lowering, the team also decided to start sending two team members into every client meeting so that the client always had multiple people to contact if they needed help. It also meant that if someone wanted to take leave or was off sick, the client’s needs were still being met, and the business could keep ticking along. 


This simple change instantly impacted the staff and created a lifestyle change that allowed for greater productivity and flexibility – while still delivering high service levels to their clients. With their streamlined processes, the team can balance their work and home lives and thrive in both. 


Michelle has a lot to be proud of, from their humble beginnings in 1992 to the vibrant business they have built today. So, on the 16th of Sept 2022, MJM Accountants will celebrate its 30th year in business, and true to Michelle’s style the party will be a big one. 

Learn more:


Rules for scaling your business – Join the Elites with Bruce Coombes

Join the Elites – Insights from the minds of the super successful

Our Managing Director, Bruce Coombes, was recently invited to participate in the first-ever episode of the webinar series Join the Elites. Host Taryn Holman, National Sales Manager at Seamless SMSF, is joined by a different accounting industry expert each episode to hear about their formula for success and seamless profitability.

According to Bruce, the accounting formula that gives you less frustration, more profits, and more time to yourself is one where you position “the right customers, the right staff, doing the right things that you want to do. So it stops being work and starts becoming fun.”

With 42 years of industry knowledge, Bruce outlined his key insights to help you get to that end goal and enjoy yourself along the way.



Surround yourself with good people

With the amount of time you spend at work, it’s essential to surround yourself with good people. Most successful businesses will agree that it is easier to find good clients than find good staff. However, once you find nice clients, they will gladly refer like-minded people if they are happy with your service. Likewise, nice employees will refer good people to work with you if they feel valued. Ensuring you invest the time to keep good people by investing in your culture and refining your processes builds an environment where you have the right people in the right positions doing the right jobs with a positive mindset.

Don’t try to solve all of the problems

The impact of the pandemic on Australian business has unfortunately meant an increase in the number of business closures. The flow-on effect to the accounting industry has been significant in terms of work volume. Accountants across Australia have been working tirelessly to support their clients as we work through the economic impact of the pandemic. According to Bruce, the “sheer fatigue in our profession needs to stop” as you can’t solve every problem for every person.

Being realistic about what clients should be a part of your practice is vital to the long term success of your business, and you will need to manage your clients to ensure you have the right ones on board.

Triage your clients

Helping struggling clients is one thing, but when you overload your books with too many of these clients, you will start to see the impact on the macro level. You are a business, not a charity.

Bruce identifies three criteria for good clients;

  1. They have the ability to take advice
  2. They have the capacity to listen
  3. They pay

Simply put, clients that don’t take your advice or don’t pay should not be your clients.

A business that can balance helping clients in crisis and getting paid what they deserve will survive and thrive. Ultimately, you have an obligation to your primary stakeholder – your family. However, you do not have an obligation to a failing business that will not take your advice.

Finding good clients makes it easier for you and your team to do the work they enjoy. Don’t put up with the difficult clients – if they don’t align with your vision and culture, help them find a better-suited firm.

Don’t undervalue yourself

Consider this analogy, would you choose a discount heart surgeon or the best, most expensive one when it comes to your health? There is no doubt that surgeons deliver fantastic value to their clients – but they do not do it for free, and nor should you.

When you lower your costs, you undervalue yourself and the service you provide your clients. Which is a trend that Taryn says is all too common in accountants as, by and large, they are genuinely caring, good people and feel that minimizing their costs is the best way to help their clients. Remember that your clients are not paying for an hour of your time – they are paying for your experience.

Book a meeting with yourself

There will always be something that demands your attention, but according to Bruce, “being busy is not a badge of honour”. Instead, ensure you block time in your diary to allow yourself time to think and reflect. By taking back control of your time, you have the chance to properly digest information and create the opportunity for innovative thought.

Rules for scaling your business

According to Bruce, there are two basic rules for scaling your business.

  1. “Growth for growth’s sake is absolutely pointless. There is no point in having a chart that goes up and profit that doesn’t move. You are in business to make money.”
  2. You are in business to make money!

These rules mean that you simply will not stay in business in the absence of making money, and to stay in business, you must have a clear vision of your end goal in mind, value and invest in yourself, and surround yourself with good people.


About Seamless SMSF

Seamless SMSF is an Australian, privately owned Self-Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF) Audit Firm that offers SMSF Audit services to accounting firms. Having built a Live, Fully Integrated Workflow Portal, accountants can access contractors who supply back-office labour to assist them with functions necessary to run their accounting businesses successfully. This unique portal, paired with outstanding service, has made Seamless SMSF Australia’s #1 SMSF provider for accounting firms, now auditing in excess of 19,114 funds. Click here to enquire.