As an accountant, you know how important it is to maintain a strong client relationship. It's not always easy though.
Clients are often busy with their day-to-day lives and don't have the time to sit down with you or your team for a lengthy meeting.
That's why it can be helpful if they have access to your secure client portal so that they can review recent transactions, make bulk payments and provide feedback on estimates without leaving their desk!
The client Portal for Accountants provide the ability to directly connect with your client and gives access to a secure, electronic transmission of important documents.
Here are the best client 7 portals to help you stay connected with your clients and maintain a strong relationship.
1. Thomson Reuters NetClient CS
Thomson Reuters NetClient CS is a comprehensive suite of applications for tax, payroll, and other accounting needs. It includes a portal as well as a mobile app.
It is one of the more complex products with a rather intimidating user interface loaded with features and settings.
The client Portal gives you access to your account information without compromising security by storing all data on their own servers.
The interface is not overly intuitive, so you have to spend some time exploring the features and learning how they work.
If your business has multiple clients with diverse needs, then this may be a good fit for you. Otherwise it might get too complicated for what you need as an accountant.
Before you can send a file to your client, you must create a user account for the client. You can either ask the client to sign up, or create an account for them.
Within the client portal, you must provide them instructions to click on specific items such as 'File Exchange' to actually find your files.
Once they have logged in and created a password, they will find your files in the File Exchange.
Overall, as far as the portal functionality to send and receive files is concerned, this product is probably among the hardest to use. Some accounting firms actually make YouTube videos, such as this one to explain to their clients how to use the firm's client portal.
NetClient reports security practices that include restricting access to their data centers and organizational security practices such as employee training. However, the use of encryption for data in transit and at rest is not supported.
2. AccountantsWorld Cloud Cabinet
AccountantsWorld Cloud Cabinet is part of the accounting focused suite of products from AccountantsWorld but can also be purchased separately.
Like most other portals in this category, sending or receiving a file requires creating an account first. Then you upload documents to the folder shared with that client.
And then you would email them to login and find their files. The email does not include a direct link to the files
File management is likely easier than other portals in this category using folders for organization such as Accounts, Invoices, and Tax Returns.
Cloud Cabinet provides detailed information on their security and appears to be one of the more modern designs.
Data is encrypted during transfers and when stored on their servers. It also among the few portal choices that back up data at multiple locations.
3. Citrix ShareFile
Citrix ShareFile is one of the more sophisticated options, and offers integration with Microsoft Office applications.
Sending files is relatively easy. You login to your ShareFile account, upload files and send them to any email address.
You do not need to create a client account, and the client also does not need to create an account. They can access the files simply by clicking a link.
Receiving files is also easier than most integrated category portals as you do not need to create a client account. You simply login to your ShareFile account and create a link to request files from your client.
However, each time you need to request files, a new link needs to be created and then sent to the client. This is not as easy as some of the other portals (e.g. CPASiteSolutions, Encyro), where you do not need to create a special link every time.
File management is simple as you have full flexibility in creating folders and assigning permissions.
ShareFile is a very secure option. Data is encrypted during transfer and when stored on their servers.
Unlike most of the other portals, ShareFile does not offer remote backup for accountants who might want to have an off-site data center in case disaster strikes at home office or colocation facility.
SmartVault is also a sophisticated client portal with many customizable settings. It offers an additional feature to integrate with QuickBooks, that allows you to attach files to QuickBooks entries, such as attaching a receipt to a ledger entry.
Sending and receiving data can be accomplished through assigning specific folders in SmartVault which will then show up in the QuickBooks file.
You can also create a 'drobox' folder that will allow for sending and receiving of files without needing to assign specific folders.
There are setup steps just to get started - you are manually required to create folders (called 'vaults'), potentially a separate one for each QuickBooks file. Most of the SmartVault functionality also requires you to install their desktop software.
SmartVault uses many security safeguards. Data is encrypted during transfers and when stored on their servers.
SmartVault uses multi-location data backup, maintaining two copies at the primary data center and another within a 24 hour delay that's shipped to a distant data center where yet another copy of your files are held (total four copies).
OneHub is another sophisticated client portal that allows securely sharing files. It offers additional features such as watermarking documents and adding custom user agreements to the portal signup. It also provides mobile apps.
Sending and Receiving files is relatively easy, but you must create a client account to send or receive files.
You can 'invite' clients with an email and they will have the ability to sign up for their own OneHub account, which allows them then to share folders and upload/download data without relying on access rights set by administrators.
This also simplifies file management as there is only one point of entry for uploading and downloading files.
The OneHub system is designed with many security features including encryption and data backups. Data is encrypted during transfers and when stored on their servers.
Remote backup information is not provided, but OneHub does offer permission settings to limit the access levels of various users or clients where only certain people can edit/share files within a folder.
6. CCH Axcess Portal
The CCH Axcess Portal is part of an accounting focused software suite that includes tax preparation and practice management features.
Sending and Receiving files requires creating a client account first. This entails filling out a form with several fields, including inputs such as storage size to be allocated.
Many other products do not require you to be concerned with such engineering details. You are required to also set permissions for users, such as make one or more of the client organization's users as Administrators who would then manually create accounts for others at the client organization.
This makes sending and receiving experience similar to the NetClient CS product, but more difficult than other choices.
The portal is secure and provides an SOC report to existing users. Files are encrypted during transfer and when stored on their servers. Remote backups are not reported.
Encryo offers a highly sophisticated and easy to use secure file sharing and client portal option. It automates most of the tasks associated with creating client portals. A free trial is available for 30 days and no credit card is needed to avail the trial.
A Salient feature of this product is that it allows importing your email contacts (such as from Gmail, Outlook or other email systems).
Even though Encyro does not require you to create client accounts, importing the email contacts makes it even easier to send messages to your clients because you need not copy-paste or type their email.
Encryo automatically shows you matching contacts as you start typing a name or email address.
Encryo offers three layers of security. Data is encrypted during transfers and when stored on servers.
It also has a data backup system with six copies of your data at three locations, so if there's any natural disaster or major event that would destroy the primary location where Encyro stores its clients' data, it will have backups for all accounts in other geographical areas.
Finally, Encryo has a wealth of data security tools for the administrator, such as allowing you to set permissions by file type and folder. This allows an accountant or controller to restrict access on specific files that are confidential in nature.
There are many low cost options other than client portals to exchange files and messages securely, but these fall short on the client retention aspect.
The OneHub system is designed with many security features including encryption and data backups. Files are encrypted during transfers and when stored on their servers.
In this blog post, we have discussed the best seven client portals for accountants that offer security and ease of use. We hope you found it helpful!
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