Cambridge, January 18th, 2013: A new e-guide for accountants –‘Streamlining and Securing Client Communication’ - dispels confusion about the current and future legal framework for electronic communication and provides clear guidance on how to exchange information securely with clients. According to the IT in Practices Survey by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, 75% of firms are not encrypting financial statements, tax returns or other financial information when they communicate by email with clients leaving them open to risk. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has already said that sensitive personal data should not be transmitted by email across the Internet unless encrypted to current standards.
Accountants are in a trusted position; handling sensitive personal information for their clients on a daily basis and legally are obliged to protect their clients’ data in accordance with the Data Protection Act. While the law does not say e-mailing is illegal, if something goes wrong and the latest advice from the ICO has not been complied with, the accountant is more likely to be found to be at fault.
Data protection law is tough and set to get tougher in the next two years with new EU rules in 2014 that could involve harsher sanctions with fines of up to 2% of global turnover. This could have a significant impact on firms who make mistakes and accountants should make preparations now to ensure that their electronic communication is secure.
The ‘Streamlining and Securing Client Communication’ e-guide addresses the following topics:
· Why is security important?
· Legal update – data protection and client confidentiality responsibilities
· Secure client communication – legally admissible solutions
“Accountants need to demonstrate they are serious about security and follow the advice of the ICO that it is no longer enough to do only the bare minimum necessary to comply with the law: proper safeguards have to be built in from the first principles and not bolted on inadequately as an afterthought,” commented Alison Jackson, sales director, Lindenhouse Software and publishers of the e-guide.
“One option is not to use email at all and implement a secure portal for document exchange that encrypts every item of data being shared between client and practice to the levels used by governments and banks. The portal acts as secure document storage and it is possible to carry out a range of actions including approve, change the status of, and respond to portal documents. This rapidly becomes second nature allowing digital/electronic signatures to provide a seamless end-to-end sign off process.”
The e-guide is available to download from: http://www.virtualcabinet.co.uk/downloads/10444%20webinar%20v5.pdf
Combining in-depth expertise with innovative document management technology Lindenhouse Software (www.lindenhouse.co.uk) is one of the UK’s leading developers of electronic document management software for industry and commerce. The company has a particular speciality for providing seamless integrated solutions that save time and money for professional firms, including Accountants, Insurance brokers and Financial Advisors.
Their Virtual Cabinet solution (www.virtualcabinet.co.uk) combines industry strength document management with secure client communication and the electronic sign-off of documents through an integrated portal. This innovation represents a major step forward in the professional markets served by Lindenhouse.