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What is client onboarding for accountants?

For an accounting firm, client onboarding is more than just paperwork.


It's about welcoming clients into your accounting practice and workflow, and getting into a good working rhythm with them as quickly as possible. 

Effective client onboarding sets the tone for the relationship and it’s a crucial part of the process to build long-term trust.


Your onboarding is an opportunity to help your clients understand the different ways you can help them, and establish a smooth groove for communicating and working well together. ​

Here's what we cover:

  • Onboarding procedures & challenges when onboarding new accounting clients

  • The importance of a streamlined client onboarding process

  • Client onboarding checklist & template

  • How to automate client onboarding 

  • Step-by-step process to successfully onboard new clients

Let’s get to it. 

Client Onboarding For Accountants: Checklist and Template

Create an Effective Client Onboarding Process with this Accounting Client Onboarding Checklist Template


New Client Onboarding Procedures

​Effective client onboarding sets the stage for successful long-term relationships with your clients, and a thriving business. 

Here’s an example of a step-by-step process for onboarding new accounting clients:

1. Initial Contact and Introduction

Send a welcome email or make an introductory call to new clients.

2. Gather client data

Conduct a client intake questionnaire and gather necessary information to start the engagement. 

3. Define Scope and Engagement

Draft and send an engagement letter outlining services, fees, terms, and what you require from the client. Get client’s approval / signed contract. 

4. Collect documentation & access details

Collect all necessary documents and access details from client (tax records, financial statements, inventories, access details for accounting software, financial accounts, etc). 

5. Compliance and Risk Management

Perform client due diligence and checks as per regulations.

6. Account Setup

Setup the client’s account and introduce or onboard them to your client portal and other services they’ll be using. 

7. Team and Access Management

Define team roles, responsibilities, and access levels for handling client information.


Challenges When Onboarding New Accounting Clients

Dealing with people and their money is not always a walk in the park.

Here are some of the typical challenges accountants face when onboarding clients:

Delays & Bottlenecks:

Not taking quick action when a client signs up can cause unnecessary delays and create bottlenecks.

Information Gathering: 

Getting all the necessary documentation from clients can be a challenge and require some follow-up.

Unclear Expectations: 

Not being on the same page about your services, fees, and other expectations can lead to unhappy clients and frustration on both sides.

Scope Creep: 

When the project inflates beyond what was originally agreed, it can put strain on your team and make it tough to meet deadlines and expectations.

Tech Infrastructure & Adoption: 

Insufficient tech and infrastructure can slow down the onboarding process. Some clients may also need extra help and training on new software or platforms.

Insufficient communication & client support: 

Not communicating clearly and often enough with clients during onboarding can erode trust and leave clients questioning whether they made the right choice working with you.

Compliance & Regulations: 

Following compliance rules and regulations adds complexity to the onboarding process. Failing to comply with regulatory requirements can lead to fines, lost clients and damage to your reputation.

Following compliance rules and regulations adds complexity to the onboarding process. Failing to comply with regulatory requirements can lead to fines, lost clients and damage to your reputation.


Accounting Client Onboarding Checklist Template

Here’s a client onboarding checklist template you can adapt based on your specific client or service types:

Signed Contract​

Welcome Message/Email

Client Intake Form

Client Profile

Regulatory requirements

Risk profile

Required documentation list


Tax records

Financial Statements

Access to client accounting system / software

Access to client financial accounts 

Access to client inventory records

Internal team briefing

Project Timeline

Team Profile

Meeting schedule

Kick-off Call

Next Action Steps

Invoicing schedule

Onboard & manage your clients with ease.

Take control of your business. Save time and money - and actually enjoy the process, with ClientManager.



How to Automate Your Client Onboarding Process

While the client onboarding process may differ in some details from client to client, many aspects are repeatable and can be automated to streamline the process. 

For example, most engagements will require:

  • Signed contract 

  • Client intake form / onboarding questionnaire

  • Client profile

  • Welcome message 

  • Invoicing schedule


Having a system or onboarding software that helps you simplify and automate these common tasks can be a massive time-saver and reduce the risk of human error.  

ClientManager is constantly rolling out new features to help you get leaner and meaner by automating your onboarding process. 

For starters, you can:

Create or customize proposals & contracts from our template library and collect e-signatures

Replace emails with automated client intake forms

Create one-off and recurring invoices

Schedule meetings & set auto-reminders

Keep track of everything with our clean calendar dashboard


The Process of Welcoming New Clients Into Your Accounting Practice

If you haven’t already got a well-defined or smooth onboarding process in place, follow these steps to make it a reality:

1) Map Your Process: 

Define a clear onboarding workflow and create customized onboarding checklists for your specific client types and services.

2) Choose Your Tools: 

Choose the best client onboarding software and tools to support your process, such as a CRM, client portal, document templates and e-signature tools.​


Shameless plug: ClientManager offers all of these features and more in a super-clean and intuitive user interface for your team and clients.  

3. Create or customize templates:

Use your chosen tools to create or adapt templates such as:


  • Welcome emails

  • Client intake forms 

  • Contracts & proposals

  • Invoices

4) Automate Tasks:

Automate repeatable tasks like welcome emails, data collection, appointment scheduling and invoicing. 

From here, keep tabs on your onboarding process so you can make continuous improvements.  

Keep refining, and soon you’ll have an optimized client onboarding process that will help you retain clients and get more business through great reviews and referrals.  
Rooting for your client onboarding success 😊

Try ClientManager’s 7-day free trial.

Most of our users love the interface, user experience, and simplicity.

Thanks again,

Kyle & CM Team

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