There is a movement among accounting firms to bring their clients into “the portal,” and it is gaining momentum. Anyone who does online banking is familiar with the portal when they check their balances, transfer funds and designate electronic payments.
Now Certified Public accountants may now offer similar access to personal and financial information while maintaining the vital security and privacy so critical in protecting it from third parties. My firm— Lawson, Rescinio, Schibell & Associates— is partnering with Wolters Kluwer, an innovator in tax, accounting and auditing software solutions. It’s a system known as the CCH Axcess™ Portal.
This is likely to change the face of tax preparation, for starters, as well as alleviating the deadline stress associated with it. File sharing programs were a step up above email and paper, but the portal is destined to usher in a whole new era for professionals in our business and their clients.
The chief concern for clients contemplating the portal is security. That keeps financial information confidential between you and your financial advisor or tax preparer, along with other associates you feel should have access, such as a spouse or business partner. It starts at the accounting firm’s website, a secure username and password, and you enter the portal shielded by an encrypted connection. You are now in a secure environment where you can immediately change and exchange sensitive data and other information that could be fodder for identity thieves.
This is high-level stuff right now, sending a message to potential clients that they are dealing with a true professional keyed into the latest technology. It may be an elite offering from your CPA in 2015, but it will assuredly become the standard way of doing business for accounting professionals in the not-so-distant future.
The technology that makes this both possible and effective is known as Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which establishes an encrypted connection between the client and the web server. You can quickly transfer large data files for review, as well as electronic tax returns, documents and financial documents with the advantage of 24/7 access.
This is truly a collaborative system, and the only parties securely designated as users by the client may enter the portal at that end. It may be as many or as few users as the client chooses, bearing in mind that access means users being able to view and retrieve all of the information.
As the provider of the CCH Axcess™ Portal promises: “You will be able to deliver the highest level of customer service through fast, streamlined communication, while staying compliant with data privacy and breach notification legislation.”
— Mike Rescinio, Lawson, Rescinio, Schibell & Associates, Oakhurst, NJ. To learn more about Lawson, Rescinio, Schibell & Associates and how they are using these tools, please call them at (732) 531-8000.