Is your head in the cloud yet?Published on 18th February 2020 2020-02-18T12:00:00+00:00 - Last update on 19th February 2020 2020-02-19T17:52:11+00:00
The internet has changed virtually every aspect of the accountancy profession. In particular, paper documents have gone the way of Ebenezer Scrooge’s counting-house, and most of us are in no doubt about the benefits.
Sharing your office space with racks of filing cabinets was always a minus – as was the delay caused when you wanted to call on a particular document. We’ve all heard of the filing clerk who put all correspondence under ‘l’ for letters.
But being able to file everything on your laptop and recall it at the touch of a button brings problems of its own.
Leave that laptop on the train, or wait for it to break down as it inevitably will, and you and your firm could be in serious trouble. Making backups every day used to be considered good practice, but it runs the risk of multiple copies of documents, delays while files are updated – and it often gets forgotten about altogether.
Yes, you could encrypt files so prying eyes cannot access the contents, but if your computer is lost or stolen, neither can you.
But that is only the beginning of the problem. Running your own network is very costly and, like your laptop, it will probably fail when you can least afford it to.
But the biggest problem of all may be security. Running your own network to share files internally can mean that your clients’ confidential information is vulnerable to hackers.
AML is making the problem worse
In January 2020, HMRC updated its Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations. They include much more comprehensive rules about due diligence and encourage us all to make use of electronic verification wherever possible.
This means that ensuring you have secure storage for all documentation is even more vital than previously. The keyword is secure – it can be argued that your own network is rarely secure enough unless it is completely firewalled, which requires some complicated provisions that make it a great deal less easy to use.
You need both easy access and tight security. According to AML regulations, documents collected under the scheme should be stored securely as a safeguard against inadvertent disclosure. For example, once you’ve collected identification and other sensitive documents from a client, you need to keep them securely. No one wants to print them off and put them in a filing cabinet these days. But if the alternative is to save them to a folder on your computer, or even your network they can hardly be classed as secure.
A cloud solution and your business
The solution is to adopt a cloud system for your data.
The cloud is a way of using the internet to provide the perfect solution for all your document needs. Most documents are electronic these days. Using a computer to produce them and then print off and store a paper copy is patently absurd.
But the benefits don’t stop there. Online document storage can reduce the costs of document management in your practice, increase your efficiency, allowing those - and only those - authorised to access data and documents they need instantly - and help you be compliant with AML policy.
The advantages for your practice
- If your computer breaks or your documents are damaged due to unforeseen circumstances, you know that these important files have been backed-up automatically and securely in the cloud. If someone hacks into your computer or email, or even breaks into your office, you know these documents are safe. Unless someone has access right, the documents cannot be accessed, and so cannot fall into the wrong hands.
- Access rights can be set for these sensitive files, restricting who can view them to those on your team who actually need to, and ensuring they are not inadvertently read by other members of staff.
- You can access any document from anywhere, which makes it easy for you to work away from your desk - on the road, from your clients' offices - or even at home.
The advantage for AML compliance
The cloud also has some important benefits which will help you meet your AML obligations.
- You can give clients the option to securely upload their identification documents to your own portal, eliminating the need to send via unsecured emails. This increases their security and your own.
- You can provide evidence of having received the electronic documentation that includes the exact time it was provided, thus meeting and exceeding your obligations under the latest regulations
- If you suspect a client of being involved with money laundering, you can access the documents from anywhere in the world and pass the information on to HMRC.
- A cloud solution meets all the requirements of the AML legislation - without additional costs.
So how do you get in the cloud?
It is possible to use a platform such as Google Docs or Windows One Drive to access the cloud, but in most cases, it is better to get a proprietary package, designed and manged around your needs and the way your practice works.
There are several suppliers who have developed suitable packages which will be able to help you get your practice fully into the cloud in less time. In most cases, this will mean providing you with a custom-branded portal, which will enhance your security - and enhance the professional appearance you provide to clients.
Dealing with the cost
However, the problem of cost may still remain. The potential and the benefits for your practice are clear and understood, and your clients will recognise the advantage of being able to communicate in an entirely electronic basis - but it will require some investment from your practice.
You could be looking at a substantial cost. Simply having the cloud facility will be the first step. You may also need to consider a full programme of digital transformation to make full use of it.
Fortunately, at Rangewell we can help.
We are experts in business finance. Not only do we know all the different types of business funding available, we know the lenders who can offer the most competitive rates and those who may be the most appropriate for a digital transformation for your practice.
What else can we do?
We don’t stop by just providing funding for you and your practice. We can partner with you to help find the finance your clients need. Loans, Asset Finance, growth, acquisition or any other kind of finance - when your clients need your help to secure the financial solutions they need, you can simply turn to us.
All our services free for you to call on as an accountant partner.
To find out more about working in partnership with Rangewell to find better answers to your own digital transformation along with your clients' funding needs, contact us today. Our service is free.
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