Within an increasingly competitive market, accountants must begin looking for ways that they can add value to their business through methods other than just competitive pricing alone.
The place to start could be with collaboration. With opportunities for client collaboration and proactive service delivery, accountants can find that an improved level of collaboration can be reached with the adoption of cloud-based systems such as client portals.
“The right collaboration technology can have a dramatic impact on the business. Companies of all sizes and industries are seeing improved productivity and teamwork, simplified decision making, and more efficient use of resources through its unique ability to empower and engage your most valuable competitive asset – your people.”
– Cisco. Collaborating in the Cloud: Why It Is Important, and What to Look for When Evaluating a Cloud-Based Collaboration Solution.
So, client portals are a product of cloud software. The idea behind using a client portal is to enhance your client relationships; through providing each client with real-time information, enhanced customer support and increased security within the portal.
Below, examples are provided of how client portals are transforming collaboration for accountants.
- Total visibility for team members, with controllable transparency options for clients, or vice versa; the control lies with the software administrator – whether that’s the individual accountant with their clients or the managing director of a small-to-medium accounting firm that has employees to also account for.
- Convenience, including increased opportunity for communication between client and accountant. Clients can always have access to support whilst looking at their numbers, and accountants can always be able to deliver, track and report financial information, from invoices to budgets and cash flow reports.
- Accessibility for remote access, ensuring that clients and partners located in different time zones can still view their documentation securely, whenever they need to. Cloud software centralises documentation that would otherwise be inaccessible to remote clients without the use of email – a much less secure alternative.
The immediacy of client portals allows its users to send updates with confidence, review updates quickly and easily scale up to accommodate the needs of the accounting firm.
A more deepened client experience.
Clinked allows accountants to combine the capability for reporting and file sharing, to easily work on multiple documents (draft final accounts, receipts and payroll etc.) with increased transparency between client and accountant; with the added collaborative features, designed to increase the speed of business processes, and to provide a secure environment for discussions with clients – thus, providing a more deepened client experience.
The provision of on-demand access to clients’ financial data and other compliance documents, as well as the ability to manage and organise on-going collaboration between clients and third-party organisations (such as tax authorities and the clients’ staff and stakeholders), benefited the accountancy firm Outbased greatly.
The case study for this company can be read here.
The features available to you, as an accountant, can benefit both yourself and your clients greatly; but it’s important to remember that each software vendor offers a variation of the general features that you will find (for example bank-grade level security, document storage, project management etc.).
In general, you’ll find that a client portal delivers real-time information reporting, multi-user access, and extensive document editing functionalities including file permissions, file versioning and file locking.
Nevertheless, with some extensive research (and potential trial and error), there will be the appropriate solution to fit your individual criteria, due to the large number of cloud software options that are available.
This blog post is taken from a chapter of Clinked’s new e-book ‘Client Portals For The Modern Accountant’. If you’re an accountant looking to balance your workload whilst maintaining strong client relationships, then find out how a client portal could benefit you.
Alternatively, you can have a look around our website, find out some more information about client portals for accountants and sign up for your 10-day free trial if you think Clinked could be the right customer portal for your business!