Meanwhile, back in the world of where people actually do work – a friend of GC sent us the following:
I heard an amazing price war story from a very reputable source. Thought you would enjoy.
A KPMG audit client in the Virginia Beach area went out to bid. KPMG bid approx $85K, a regional firm bid mid-60K, another firm approximately 40K, and Clifton Gunderson undercut everyone by bidding $19K on the audit. 19K! How in the hell is that possible? This is a prime example of what is happening out there.
Don’t know if this is SOP at Clifton but that price has to make for some horrendous realization or it’s simply staffed by an entry-level associate and a partner. Other theories on how they plan to pull this off without completely losing their shirts are welcome.
By now it’s no secret that accounting firms are getting all Wal-Mart with their bids/fees in order to drum up desperately needed new business and keeping current clients happy.
Offering or renegotiating lower fees, while an excellent “client service” tool, can cause all kinds of problems with staffing and the feasibility of engagements.
If you’re working on a small engagement with a tight budget, things could tricky (read: impossible) to reconcile mandatory hour work weeks to the budgeted time on your engagements.
One reader is curious as to the repercussions of all this:
[They are] low bidding jobs, taking audit clients at rates < $100/hour when average rates used to be $150 - $250/hour. Tell me they won't dump those clients when the economy turns around. Or have people eat hours on the jobs. They are desperate for work right now.
Those numbers are relative of course but it does make one wonder how this will all pan out long term. As we’ve noted, if it gets to the point to where there’s simply not enough money coming in the door, closing up shop isn’t out of the question. If you’ve got concerns, thoughts, complaints, etc. on how this latest trend will affect you and your office, discuss them in the comments.