Adamson Advisory

Deal With Your D-Level Clients

It is mid-January. It’s the time of year when you and your team members begin to dread the time when you have to deal with certain clients.

In the CPA profession, we have different levels of clients. We have wonderful and professional A-level clients. We have the almost wonderful B-level clients. Then comes the C-level clients. Yes, they are average but are not much trouble and are profitable. It is our job to get them up to the B and A-level. Finally comes the 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 with 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 gently, but definitely, outplaced. In our busy world, time is so valuable, and these clients waste your time. Take steps to finally eliminate 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 outplace them. Then, these same partners never followed through.

Times have changed, and with the shortage of quality employees, I am 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.


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