Finding the gap in an established market

Dirk Coetzee and Associates was born out of the growing need for taxation services specifically catering to the fiduciary industry. About two and a half years ago, when the Tax Administration Act was signed into law and tax services to a deceased estate could thereafter be loaded as a separate claim against the estate, the executor’s office did not have the capacity, time or know-how to deal with the growing fiduciary demand. Lifelong friends, Merwe Moelich and Dirk Coetzee, saw the gap in the market that the legislative change had created and jumped on it, establishing a company in 2014 that specialises in deceased estates, trusts and high net worth individuals.

“About 90% of our clients are from the fiduciary industry, made up of two of South Africa’s big four banks, as well as attorneys on the service provider panels of these banks. The other 10 % is made up of small business clients and individual income tax clients,” says Moelich.

Currently, Dirk Coetzee and Associates is the only tax service provider of its kind in South Africa to have successfully negotiated and established the most weekly appointments with all the South African Revenue Service (SARS) branches in the Western Cape to attend to their clients’ tax matters.

Moelich explains that a normal tax practitioner gets on average a one hour appointment per month at SARS, in which a maximum of 10 cases could be handled. “It was a major challenge to convince SARS that our business could simply not be classified as normal tax practitioners, because we handle such a high volume of cases, and on behalf of corporate executors. After tireless negotiations with the Western Cape Government and SARS for more set appointments, we are now able to handle approximately 400 cases per month. We are also in the process of arranging additional appointments in other provinces to meet the growing demand and workload.

To have found a niche market in the tax services industry is something very rare, says Coetzee. “The core of our work consists of the submission of income tax returns for deceased estates and trusts. All of our systems are implemented to align with the Standard Operating Procedure of SARS. We are also members of The Fiduciary Institute of South Africa (FISA), which helps us to stay abreast of any developments in this industry.

“Any changes to these procedures are communicated to us immediately, and our systems adjusted accordingly,” he adds.

With regards to their marketing and sales recipe, Moelich and Coetzee believe that actions speak louder than words. “From the start, it was established that in our field, the most effective marketing tool would be our service delivery, which includes quick feedback and frequent reporting to our clients. We identified that the administrators from the fiduciary industry were getting little or no feedback on their instructions from their current service providers, and we therefore made it our mission to provide frequent feedback, and reply to any queries within 24 hours.

“We would start with a certain branch of a trust company or attorney, prove ourselves, and then later approach further branches to offer our services. This strategy has proved successful and almost all the growth experienced has been due to positive word of mouth from current clients.”

Merwe Moelich and Dirk Coetzee are finalists in the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS. For more information on their business, please visit the Dirk Coetzee and Associates website: