Updated on February 11th, 2023
An accounting consulting agreement (with a retainer) is a contract that establishes a working relationship between a client and a consultant hired to advise on accounting matters.
Before entering into this arrangement, the parties will discuss the tasks to be performed by the consultant, the length of the agreement, the amount of compensation, whether a retainer must be paid, and other important terms and conditions.
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ACCOUNTING CONSULTING AGREEMENT
This Agreement is made between [CLIENT NAME] (the “Client”) and [ACCOUNTING CONSULTANT NAME] (the “Consultant”).
1. SERVICES. The Consultant shall provide consulting services related to accounting, including but not limited to bookkeeping, financial analysis, budgeting, tax preparation, financial planning, and [INCLUDE ANY OTHER SERVICES HERE] (the “Services”).
2. RETAINER. The Client shall pay the Consultant a flat retainer fee of $[AMOUNT] as an advance on future Services to be provided (the “Retainer”).
3. FEES AND PAYMENT. The Client shall pay the Consultant an hourly rate of $[RATE] for the Services provided. All payments shall be due within thirty (30) days of the date of invoice.
4. TERM AND TERMINATION. The term of this Agreement shall begin on [MM/DD/YYYY]. Either party may terminate this Agreement at any time by providing thirty (30) days’ written notice.
5. CONFIDENTIALITY. The Consultant agrees to keep confidential all personal and financial information provided by the Client or acquired in the course of providing the Services.
6. LIABILITY. The Consultant shall not be liable for any damages that may arise as a result of the Services provided.
7. ENTIRE AGREEMENT. This Agreement contains the entire understanding between the parties and supersedes all prior agreements and understandings, whether written or oral, between the parties.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have executed this Agreement as of the date written below.
Client Signature: _______________ Date: [MM/DD/YYYY]
Accounting Consultant Signature: _______________ Date: [MM/DD/YYYY]
[ACCOUNTING CONSULTANT NAME]
Accounting Consultant’s Role
An accounting consultant advises individuals and companies to help create and maintain efficient general accounting practices. Sometimes a consultant will be hired to resolve a specific concern, while other times they will oversee a number of problematic areas. Therefore, a consultant’s services may be required only for a short period of time, or the relationship between the parties may be more open-ended (in which case, a retainer fee may be proposed).
Accounting consultants provide services to reform, recover, or upgrade an entity’s accounting systems, finances, budget, profitability, bookkeeping, regulatory compliances, cash flow, and other matters relating to the accounting department. They may also be asked to fill in for a CFO, controller, or other high-level financial agent.
More specifically, accounting consultants who have skills in the following areas are often in high demand:
- Policy and technical GAAP accounting
- Accounting system evaluation
- General ledger consolidation
- Forensic accounting
- Internal audits
- Accounting software implementation and integration
- Audit, risk, SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley)
- Compliance with International Financial Reporting Standards
- Financial Accounting Standards Board compliance:
- ASC Topic 606 – revenue recognition
- ASC Topic 842 – leases and new rules for lease accounting
- Enterprise resource planning, general ledger, and business information systems support
Accounting consultants most commonly demand a fixed fee for their services. This enables them to charge for the value of their expertise rather than by time spent on a particular task. In addition to payment in exchange for services, an up-front fee may be requested to establish a more concrete relationship between the parties; this is referred to as a retainer. Alternatively, consultants may charge clients by time spent, i.e., an hourly rate paid on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis.
A retainer is a fee paid by a client to a consultant to reserve the use of their services over a specified period of time. The money will count towards the consultant’s hourly wage or fixed fee, but any additional time spent performing services will require additional compensation by the client. Establishing a retainer arrangement can benefit both parties; the consultant is paid up-front, so their compensation is temporarily solidified, and the client is able to take advantage of their expertise whenever necessary.