As we gear up for the MACPA’s annual CPA Summit on June 23, we thought this would be a perfect time to have a conversation about the future with some of the Summit’s most forward-thinking sponsorship partners.
We asked each of them to give us their thoughts on the trends that are impacting the profession, the changing role of CPAs, and how their relationships with CPAs might be changing as a result. We’ll be featuring their answers here over the next few days.
Joining the conversation today is Adrian Phillips, senior product marketing manager with Citrix ShareFile.
1. We all know the trends that are impacting the profession today – social, mobile, the cloud. What are the next big trends that CPAs need to pay attention to?
Adrian Phillips: Outside of tax season, we see CPAs striving to improve their efficiency in servicing their clients. Best-practice trends include cutting down on steps needed for bookkeeping, taxes, and staying audit-ready. Simply using an Outlook plugin that automatically converts e-mail attachments to secure files in your cloud storage is a huge step toward this. Say goodbye to password-protected PDFs! Not only will sensitive attachments avoid public e-mail servers, they will also bypass e-mail file size restrictions.
The next trend is proactively securing client data at rest, and in transit, ideally before your client e-mails over his or her sensitive financial documents chocked full of private personal information. That, or they show up with a flash drive which may or may not have the intended file on it! Sending a secure “request a file” to your firm’s secure storage, and including this link in your e-mail signature, is a great way to keep this preferred method top of mind for your clients.
One last trend I’ll mention is that CPAs are now trusting encrypted clouds as their main storage repository. Inexpensive, unlimited storage plans are contributing to this, as is the inefficiency of maintaining encrypted archives. Wouldn’t you rather focus on your clients and not on technology?
2. How will the role that CPAs play change as time moves forward?
Phillips: CPAs are increasingly expected to advise their clients on the most efficient ways to use technology to streamline their bookkeeping and maximize their deductions. For example, knowing new, cloud-based accounting services will increase in importance.
CPAs are increasingly expected, by both their clients and regulating bodies, to use secure and encrypted means of communication.
Finally, I expect CPAs will continue to be treated like their clients’ personal file cabinets. The good news is technology is making all of this much less painful.
ShareFile’s clients address this need quickly, often while still on the phone, or the client pulls the file themselves from the secure portal.
3. Is your relationship to the profession changing as a result?
Phillips: Definitely! We at Citrix ShareFile are heavily invested in the success of our accounting customers, and we continue to improve our suite of products for this reason. In the last year, we have acquired and integrated an e-signature solution, RightSignature, directly into ShareFile to make it quick and easy to get completed forms. I heard a great story recently from a customer who used RightSignature on April 15 to get his client’s signature and taxes in, even though his client was out of state on vacation.
ShareFile also recently released a feature that enables CPAs to encrypt the body of their e-mails at no additional charge.
Finally, we are excited to announce our new integration with QuickBooks Online, available in July from the Intuit app store. The integration is helpful for both CPAs and their clients because it allows source documents of any type and file size to be associated with transactions in QBO, consolidated in one secure long-term storage solution that has so much benefit for CPAs.
4. What’s the most important thing Summit attendees need to know about your business?
Phillips: ShareFile has been helping accounting firms of all sizes for the better part of a decade, and our customers share with us how our service pays for itself by providing greater efficiency and peace of mind. I asked a CPA customer recently how his tax season went. He laughed and said tax season is always a drag, but from a technology perspective everything worked. We love to hear these stories.
What’s important for Summit attendees to know is that we not only have the technology for CPAs, we also have dedicated on-boarding specialists that work exclusively with firms like yours all day long. ShareFile customers are not expected to just find their own way. Our dedicated care representatives take the time to walk every customer, regardless of size, through setting up their desktops, tablets, Microsoft Outlook, file sync, virtual print driver, encrypted storage, RightSignature and more!
As a CPA knows taxes, ShareFile’s care reps know how to set up your workflow to help you be at the top of your game.
Adrian Phillips (@adrianpphillips) is a senior product marketing manager with Citrix ShareFile. With a diverse career dating back to the dot-boom era, he has worked in multimedia journalism, owned a small business and helped software technology companies of all sizes market innovative software products. Striving to live a paperless life in Raleigh, N.C., Adrian holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Flagler College.