Accountants across the board are scrambling to educate themselves about the new GDPR regulations that will come to manage their activities, and for good reason. While the new regulations aren’t so stringent that they would majorly disrupt the industry, savvy accountants should still brief themselves over what they can and can’t do if they intend to stay out of trouble.
So how exactly will the new GDPR regulations change the daily operations of accountants, and what can you do to prepare yourself? Arm yourself with the facts, and briefly review the new regulation’s impact, and you’ll soon find yourself equipped to succeed in our newly regulated market.
New data protection rules
Perhaps the greatest impact of the new GDPR regulations will be how they foster in new data protection rules. In today’s increasingly digital economy, which will soon come to be defined by some 20 billion devices in the next few years alone, your clients are most likely more worried than ever about whether their data privacy is secured. It’s worth breaking down what these new data rules will do, then, and explaining why it’s worthwhile for you and any staff members under you to freshen up on your tech training.
The General Data Protection Regulation that’s set to become law in the EU in 2018 will impact accountants who handle the personal information of their clients, whether these records are digital or not. The vast majority of today’s firms and independent freelancers alike have already digitized their operations, however, so that’s where your concern as an accountant should primarily rest. If you’re following the due diligence requirements that you should be as an accountant, there’s no way of getting around these rules.
The new regulations will force tougher financial penalties on accountants who shirk their duties, and grant individual’s greater rights when it comes to ensuring their data privacy. While this is likely to please your clients, it also means you’re going to have to spend more to ensure all of your operations are up to date and secure; you should thus consider expanding your IT resources now, before regulations take effect, to ensure you’re in compliance before they’re enforced. You don’t want to be stuck with fines of up to 4% of your annual worldwide turnover, after all.
Don’t ease yourself with hopes that Brexit will exempt you from these EU-launched regulations, either; the new regulation’s May 2018 start date falls well within the confines of when Britain will still be a member of the EU, meaning there’s no skating by on hopes foreign officials can’t regulate you. Your bookkeeping, payroll, and accounting data will likely all be impacted by these new regulations, and your company simply cannot afford to put off the data privacy guarantees you’ll need to ensure you’re complying properly.
Upping your digital security
If you’re concerned, don’t worry; there are plenty of resources out there that wise accountants can rely on to ensure everything related to their data and personal privacy of clients is secured. Outside of bending over backwards to meet these individual rules, however, smart accountants should take this as an opportunity to up their digital security across the board, as the new GDPR regulations come for a good reason.
You don’t have to be a news-junkie to have heard about the recent slew of data breaches which have sunk confidence in data privacy across the globe. From Uber to Equifax to countless others, no one’s data is as safe as they might think it is. In today’s day and age, clients are simply demanding more transparency from their accountants to ensure their information is private, meaning you can leverage your company’s staunch IT security platforms into a marketing tool that proves you’re a cut above the rest.
For starters, you should start identifying the team members you’ll use to up your data security now, long before the regulations take effect. You’ll need to design a process that ensures all data-related initiatives in your company are being reviewed to ensure they’re in compliance, and meet with your clients to exchange any changes to your system you must make. A designated data protection officer would be a fantastic addition to your team, if you’ve not already seen the imperative behind getting one, and will help ensure your clients that you’re taking compliance with the new rules seriously.
Accountants will need to dedicate more resources to encryption, require greater due diligence when deciding on what data backup provider to use, and will need to foster a culture of compliance throughout the company’s ranks. The new regulations will help create a more secure business environment, however, and accountants who get a move on now will find themselves glad in the future; in a data-dominated world, information security should be at the forefront of any accountant’s mind.