Inside many firms, there is a sense of dread when certain client names are mentioned. Team members and even partners dread the time when they have to deal with certain clients. In the CPA profession, we call them D-level clients.

Maybe some of the following descriptions might apply to those clients you dread:

  • Fred, the owner of XYZ Excavating, is always last minute when it comes to providing you information to complete his tax return.
  • Betty, the owner of ABC Resort on The Lake, is rude, always complaining, requesting you to do some task but doesn’t want to pay for it. She thinks everything she asks is part of the tax preparation service you provide.
  • Barney is the pompous, solo-attorney (and old friend of one of your partners) who walks on the edge of actually harassing your female staff members.
  • Ted is the owner of three fast food franchise stores and has to be continually hounded to pay your invoices.

These are “D” level clients and need to be outplaced. In our busy world, time is so valuable and these clients waste your time. Take steps to finally get rid of clients that no longer fit your ideal client profile.

For years, I have heard partner groups discuss these types of clients. Some even designed a process to out-place them. Then, these same partners never followed through.

Times are changing and I am finally hearing more and more stories from managing partners that their firm is actually eliminating D-level clients from their client list. It makes their staff very happy.

Develop criteria for identifying D-level clients and then carry out the task. Of course, it should be done in a professional manner but don’t procrastinate once the decision is made.

About the Author

Adamson SuitPort_0242Gary Adamson is a CPA and the President of Adamson Advisory, specializing in succession planning and consulting for CPA firms. He can be reached at (765) 488-0691 or For more about Adamson Advisory, visit or follow the company at and