Today's Features

Teach Your Clients to Send Info Digitally

Concept of sending e-mails from your computer

Email is comfortable, but not always secure.

By Roman H. Kepczyk
Quantum of Paperless: Technology Guide & Checklist

One of the most critical steps in transitioning a firm to a paperless environment is capturing information in a digital format at its root source as that information enters the firm.

At the base level, this means having clients provide you information in a digital format, which can be done via email, digital fax or through a portal rather than with a physical document. While email is currently the most prevalent tool utilized by clients, it is anticipated the security concerns will help clients transition toward portals.

Email has been the most frequent tool used as most clients are comfortable attaching a spreadsheet or document and sending it to the firm. This method allows the digital file to be easily accessed and saved into the firm’s file storage applications.

“82% of firms request audit documents prepared by clients be delivered in a digital format.” – AAA 2013 Survey

While clients are usually comfortable with sending files to the firm via email, there are often times when the information is confidential. For privacy and confidentiality, firms need to use email passwords, email encryption or a firm-controlled portal. Applications that encrypt email such as Citrix ShareFile and cPaperless SafeSend were the most commonly selected solutions according to the 2020 CPAFMA IT Survey. The cost of a secured connection with a client can be somewhat expensive but can be justified for the overall gains in efficiency and security.

While secured email or a portal would be the preferred delivery solution, some clients will not have adequate internet access and opt to bring in documents (such as their QuickBooks files) on a USB flash drive. Firms should make a concerted effort to discourage client use of thumb drives as they carry the risk of introducing malware into the firm’s network. When personnel do receive physical media, there should be a procedure to thoroughly scan it before loading any files to the network and then return the media to the client immediately, so the firm is not tasked with disposing of the media.

The key to successful adoption of this Quantum Leap is to provide proactive training and reminders to clients on how data should be digitally transferred to the firm. Some firms have begun documenting this information on the firm’s website as well as using remote screen control tools to assist clients. According to the 2020 CPAFMA IT survey, the top three products selected were LogMeIn/, TeamViewer and GoToMyPC/GoToAssist.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Formalize process to have clients transfer files electronically.

Microsoft Envisions a Passwordless Future Starting in 2021

Computer security concept shot, with binary code and password textBiometrics are one option.

By Rick Richardson

At least 80 percent of cybersecurity failures involve direct attacks on users’ passwords, the World Economic Forum warns. This is a problem that’s not going away any time soon. For Microsoft, as it explains in an official blog post, the solution may lie in a passwordless future, and it’s hoping to ramp it up this year.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: Go Ahead, Use Your Own Router | 5G Delivered Via Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft | Will Fast Charging Become Tomorrow’s Gas Station? | Add Live Captions to Your Zoom Meeting | The 2020s Will Demand More from Your Tech
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Whether it’s storing personal information about addresses, finances and highly private records, or running companies entirely virtually, the internet is where people live a good deal of their lives. And these people rely on passwords to guard their data and information against malicious actors. In response to hackers, some experts encourage the use of two-factor authentication, but that still isn’t airtight.

Personal Wealth Creation Can Be Coached

Woman executive coaching a male employee across deskSix qualities the best candidates have.

By Anthony Glomski and Russ Alan Prince
Your $5-Million High-Net-Worth Practice

Personal wealth creation coaching is a methodology we use with the wealthy, including the super-rich as well as select professionals. We start personal wealth creation coaching with clients by having them identify where they are today and where they want to be.

MORE: COVID-19 Brings High-Net-Worth Opportunities | Working with the Super-Rich and Single-Family Offices | The Family Office Model | The New Way to Get the Best Clients | The Four-Step Process for Client-Focused Business Development | What the Wealthy Need
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We find there is always a gap. By leveraging and increasing their networks while enhancing the depth of their business relationships, we show them how to close the gap.

5 Steps to Better Time Management

Young businessman punching and breaking clock with fistBeing “too busy” may signal a need to reprioritize.

By Steven E. Sacks
The NEW Fundamentals

Some firms encourage expanding workloads, creating questionable tasks or keeping people occupied under the pretense that their actual activities provide real value. What is the meaning of busy, really? And how are outcomes from efforts measured for value?

MORE: A Rapidly Changing Business Environment Requires Flexibility | Organizational Change Starts and Ends with People | Busyness Isn’t the Same as Productivity | Staff Orientation: A Little Investment Goes a Long Way | Managing Information Overload | 6 Types of Non-Listeners
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Part of the illusion of being busy is that you can master many things at the same time. It certainly would keep you busy (or occupied) but you won’t nurture new skills and discover what your real aptitude is to help yourself and/or your firm.

Make Tension Work for You

Calm balanced businessman sitting outdoors on bench in Yoga lotus pose meditating, with office building and blue sky in backgroundIt impacts performance, so use it.

By Bill Reeb

Your best comes through, especially when you are calling upon fine motor skills, when you are relaxed. Too much tension can quickly impact your mental, physical and emotional acuity.

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What I am referring to is finding the right level of tension to support performance at a heightened level. The problem is that there is a fine line between tension that pumps you up and tension that starts to drag you down.

Clarify Partner Expectations

Two women talkingIt makes managing them easier.

By Marc Rosenberg
The Role of the Managing Partner

Over the years, during countless partner interviews, many have told me they aren’t sure of their role and what is expected of them.

MORE: How the Managing Partner Manages the Partners | Overarching Authority That Managing Partners Must Have | Exceptional Managing Partners Offer Their Advice | Why Management Is the #1 Key to the Firm’s Success | Herding Cats: Advice for Managing Partners
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Here is a basic, universal technique for improving performance and providing feedback:

Why Annual Staff Evaluations Fall Short

Two businesswomen meeting in an officeThe same information is available in better ways.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I have never felt annual staff evaluations are effective.

They are forced meetings that lay on complaints and blame for past failures, many of which are not remembered or are vague memories at best. I have rarely seen resulting changes last more than two or three weeks before old habits are reverted to.

MORE: 10 Ways to Stay in Control | 20 Best Practices for Staff Training and Retention | What Does the Client Want to See? | 6 Ways to Increase Your Fees … If You Dare | The Clients that Got Away | Upselling Made Painless | Boosting a Fixed Fee Substantially
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I think these annual meetings are a waste of time. Instead, I have been very successful with immediate and periodic evaluations, coupled with regular mentoring meetings.

5 Ways to Incentivize Growth

number 5 drawn in sandMake it profitable for your employees to bring in business.

By Ty Hendrickson

Flash back a year ago, pre-pandemic, to yet another after-work networking event that you feel like you have to attend to build your practice. You have some good conversations with people you always see at these events. You have some food and drinks, but you don’t come home with any new real leads. The only thing you get is an extra pound on the scale in the morning and another night away from friends and family. Does this sound familiar?

MORE: Five Time Management Tips to Survive Busy Season | Sales Shouldn’t Be Scary | 5 Ways to Rethink the Way You Communicate | Get Goal-Ready for 2021 | Three W’s for Networking the Right Way
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Fast forward. Many of these events no longer exist … not that you were finding them all that effective anyway. How do you find leads in our current environment?

Go Ahead, Use Your Own Router

It’ll probably take some legwork to make the fees stop.

By Rick Richardson

Many Americans are very frustrated that they have to pay a mandatory router rental charge every month as part of their internet service provider bill. It gets added even if you purchase and use your own router in many cases.

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But as of Dec. 20, the practice is now illegal, and you can demand your ISP stop the charge.