How to Create an Engagement

1. Setting up the account

When you register for an account, you will need to input your contact information in the Account page. This is also where you will customize your account by selecting the options and inputting the amounts that are common to all your clients.

You can also open the Account page by clicking your name on the menu ribbon at the top of the page.

Make sure you’ve completed this page before you get started.

Next, navigate to the Dashboard tab at the top of the page. The Dashboard is an overview of your clients with active engagements, the status of each engagement, and the amount of any retainer on deposit. On the left side of the Dashboard, click on the link to the Clients database. This is where you will find a list of all your clients, both active and dormant. Click on a client’s name to open the client information page.

Review the client’s contact information and confirm that it is correct. Use the Edit link at the top right to make changes, if needed. Once the client information is completed, you are ready to create a new engagement.


Creating a new Engagement Letter

On the right side of the client screen, click + Engagement ”to open the New Tax Engagement pop-up window. The top-half of the window shows the client’s contact information pre-populated. The bottom-half of the window has the information about the new engagement.

First, use the pull-down menu to select the type of tax return that you are preparing and input the appropriate tax year. For example, “Individual Income Tax” and “2016”.

Next, choose whether you are charging a flat fee or an hourly fee by clicking the corresponding button. If you chose Flat Fee, you need to enter the amount of the fee into the box. For the Hourly Fee, use the pull-down menu to select the fee schedule you want to use for this engagement. You can modify the fee schedule from the Account page. You can also create multiple fee schedules if, for example, you charge a different hourly rate for different kinds of tax returns.

Then, enter the amount of the client’s fee deposit in the box marked Retainer.

Finally, check the box next to Arbitration if you want to add the optional Dispute Resolution Clause to the engagement letter. If you check the box, the client will need to enter their initials to show that they have read this paragraph in the letter and that they agree to the terms of the Arbitration Clause.

Click Save at the bottom of the window when you are finished. The window will close and the new engagement letter has now been added to the client’s list of Engagements. You can see the client’s list of Engagements by clicking the client’s name at the top of the page. The box to the right of the engagement shows the status of the engagement letters. A new engagement should say ‘Preparing’.

When a new engagement is created, the client’s name and the new engagement are automatically added to the Dashboard. Under “Status”, the first green dot next to the client’s engagement shows that the first step – preparing the letter – has been finished.


Signing the Engagement Letter

From the Client window, click on the engagement you just created. This will open the engagement window. The details of your new engagement are listed under the Engagement heading below the client’s contact information. Review the details and confirm that they are correct. Click the green Edit button if you need to make changes.

When you’re satisfied, click Preview Letter to go to the Preview Engagement Letter screen. At the bottom, you have the option to email the letter to your client now or to exit and send it later.

Click Email To Client. The app will send an email to the client and take you back to the client page. Note that the status changes to ‘Contacted Client’. On the Dashboard, the second green dot next to the client engagement shows that the second step – Contacting the Client – is finished.

Your client will get an email with a link that requires that they verify their identity. Once confirmed, the client is directed to a webpage with your engagement letter.

On this page, the client enters their payment information and authorizes the charge for the advance fee deposit. If you elected to include the arbitration clause, this is where the client enters their initials showing that they agree to the terms.

Finally, the client agrees to the terms of the engagement letter by checking the box and clicking I AGREE. The status of the engagement in the client page changes to ‘Signed’ and the third green dot appears.

You now have a new active engagement. Congratulations!


Closing the Engagement

When you’ve completed the work, open the Client page and click on the engagement you just finished. Click Conclude and the app will automatically send your client a Closing Letter to confirm that the engagement is closed.

This removes the client’s name and the concluded engagement from the Dashboard. The engagement status is changed to “Concluded” under the client’s information page. The signed engagement letter is then moved to the client’s ‘Documents’ section for safekeeping.


What happens if the client doesn’t respond?

It is possible that the email with your proposed engagement letter was flagged as junk mail when it was sent to your client. Ask them to add to their list of approved senders. Then, go to the engagement on the client information page. Under ‘Documents’ is the link to re-send the proposed engagement letter to the client.


Declining the Engagement

If your client doesn’t respond, or if you want to cancel the proposal for some other reason, you can Decline the Engagement.

Open the client’s information page and click on the engagement you want to cancel. There is a section titled “Decline the Engagement” near the bottom right of the page. Click the red Preview Letter button. This is will show you a preview of the Non-Engagement letter. This letter notifies the client that you are unable to assist them with this engagement.

Click Email to Client at the bottom of the page. The app asks you to confirm that you are declining the engagement. Click OK and the letter will be emailed to your client.

The engagement is now listed under the client’s information page as ‘CPA Declined’ and the client’s name and the canceled engagement is removed from the Dashboard.

Terminating the Engagement

After the client signs the engagement letter, the status is changed to ‘Signed’ and the engagement is active. If you need to terminate the engagement after the client has signed the agreement, you can send a termination letter from the client’s engagement page.

From either the Dashboard or the Client list, open the client information page. Under Engagements, click on the ‘Signed’ engagement that you want to terminate. Below the engagement details is a section titled “Terminate Engagement”. Click on the Terminate Engagement button to prepare the termination letter.

Confirm that the client information and the engagement details are correct. Then, use the pull-down menu to see six reasons for terminating the engagement. Select the reason that most closely describes the reason for why the engagement is being terminated.

Next, enter in the amount of the client’s unpaid balance, if any.

The current date is automatically selected for the effective date of the termination. You can enter a different effective date if needed.

Finally, click one of the buttons under Documents to tell the client that you have returned all the client’s records and documents, or that you will be returning them separately.

If there is a deadline or other time sensitive date (the tax filing deadline, for example), there is a place to note this on the termination letter. It is not required, however.

Engage is an easy-to-use engagement tracking app for CPAs.