Boutique accountancy service provides high responsiveness
Emerging managers and family offices can benefit from the services offered by boutique accountancy firms as this gives them access to high quality, responsive service they may not get elsewhere.
Muhammad Akram, founder of Akram & Associates, elaborates: “I have learnt that there aren’t many boutique firms of our size which can really help and support emerging managers and family offices. Bigger firms often don’t want to service them or are simply not a good fit. Also, if they go to a large firm, they risk not getting the quality of service they require in terms of responsiveness, for example.”
Akram & Associates prides itself on its turnaround times when responding to client requests. “We have clients based in different time zones – from different parts of the US all the way to Hong Kong and Japan. We answer emails 24/7 and are always happy to help, whatever time they get in touch,” Akram explains.
This has been a strong driver of the 40 per cent growth the firm registered in 2019, further propelled by positive word of mouth marketing.
“Our business model is unique. There are service providers offering lower fees than us, but we don’t want to be a low cost service provider. My firm is positioned right behind the big four – we are the ideal partner for clients looking for a white glove service,” Akram says.
One of the key differentiators in Akram’s service is the firm’s timing of the Schedule K-1 forms. He notes: “Several clients have commented other firms issue their Schedule K-1 forms very late. In response, we focus on our K-1s in February. In fact, we have been able to win a few clients on the back of offering K-1 forms earlier than is customary. Moving our timelines up really helps.”
Hedge funds can also turn to Akram & Associates for tax planning recommendations. This is where Akram believes the firm offers a lot of value to clients. “Following our suggestions, a hedge fund can tweak its investment strategy to ensure more beneficial tax treatment,” he comments.
One of the issues hampering Akram & Associates’ growth is related to staffing concerns. “I could grow the business by 60 per cent if I had the team to service the clients. The greatest challenge I face in my business is hiring quality staff and talented people. As I am not operating from a big financial center like New York, for example, are fewer people who know the industry, so it takes a longer time to develop quality staff,” Akram reasons.
In the coming year, Akram aims to focus on servicing more family office clients, in addition to its suite of emerging managers. The firm’s strategy for targeting these groups mainly relies on the traditional word of mouth phenomenon, given this cohort’s need for privacy and security.
Akram will also boost the firm’s visibility among family offices by sponsoring conferences geared for this client group.
Looking ahead, Akram has plans to open an office on the Pacific Coast of the US. “I really feel that we should have an office on the West Coast, since 60-70 per cent of the firm’s revenue comes from here. I’m sometime this year we will open an office in California,” he divulges.