AM Uncovered: Give clients visibility of their docs, details, deadlines and tax liabilities

2nd Aug 2021
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Accountancy Manager
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We’re grilling AccountancyManager users on the features that have the biggest impact on their practice and clients. Today, we uncover AM’s Client Portal. A simple idea with the power to make life much easier for you and your clients.

On the face of it, the Client Portal is shared document storage for you and your clients, with built-in e-signing. Dig a little deeper and you unearth many unexpected bonuses… A more organised internal file structure. No more interruptions from clients asking for information. Working with clients anywhere in the world. And clients uploading docs before you even ask. 

A more secure way to send and receive documents

Imagine the Client Portal as an online safety deposit box for which only you and your client have the key. At its most basic level, the Client Portal gives you and your clients a secure way to share sensitive documents. Instead of emailing, you add a document to the portal through AccountancyManager, then your client logs on to access it. 

Paddy Quinn, at Paddy Quinn & Co Chartered Accountants, has been helping AccountancyManager’s developers refine AM for the Irish market. “We’re finding great benefits with the portal, I mean payroll being number one. The whole GDPR compliance thing - we're not sending stuff by email, we're sending it securely by the portal. For our KYC procedures - so for passports and driver's licenses and proof of address - all that gets uploaded to the portal as well.”

All your clients’ documents in one place 

Once you or your client has added documents to the portal you can both access them at any time. You can organise documents into folders and you can choose to keep documents private just to your practice. So it acts like a virtual filing cabinet for both your team and your client. 

Organisation for your practice

Since we've got AccountancyManager, we've been able to put more structure around things. It's a crucial part of our practice now.”

“Life before AccountancyManager was very manual and very chaotic, with no real structure. Since we got AccountancyManager, we've been able to put more structure around things. It's a crucial part of our practice now.”

Zia Tahir, owner of Spherical Accountants explained how this saves him time internally. “First, everything is on the cloud and we know where everything is. And secondly, it's sorted by client. So we don't have to look through the documents. We can simply go to ‘XYZ Ltd’. Things are much simpler.”

Empowerment for your clients

Sam and Bal, owners of Diamond Accounting and Diamond Outsourcing, report that their clients appreciate this constant access to their documents too. “They just like to have access to it whenever they want it. As opposed to: we email them a set of accounts, two years later, they’ve forgotten about it and they keep asking us for it again. 

Literally any information clients’ want on themselves, it’s all there”.

“Now they just log in to the portal and download it themselves. It’s not just the documents and tax returns it’s: “I want my UTR or my company authentication.”...And it’s all there, literally any information clients’ want on themselves, it’s all there”.

Give your clients 24/7 access to their details, deadlines and tax liabilities

Although it may not sound life-changing, giving your clients visibility of their personal details, reference numbers and deadlines has substantial benefits. As Kamlesh Rajput, owner of Sterling Finance told us. “One of the biggest credits I would like to give to AccountancyManager is the access to up to date information for our client 24/7.” 

It's good that client deadlines are on there so they can go in and see which return is due soon or what filing deadlines are upcoming.”

- Paddy

“Once a client signs up, they can see their private details, their UTR, their VAT deadline, all of their documents, accounts, their P60s, whatever they have shared with us and we have uploaded, it's always available 24/7 to the client.”

“As an accountant, we should be ready to provide our client information we hold, but now we are one step ahead. A client knows that their P60s are there, the latest accounts are there. If they are getting a mortgage, their tax overview is there.”

I think this is one of the most basic, but to me most valuable services to our client.”

We reminded Kamlesh of a new feature in the portal - visibility of clients’ tax liability in the portal. “Yes!” Says Kamlesh, “As soon as we type in the amount, it gives us options - do you want to send email? This is one of the very, very good features.”

Instant online e-signatures for any document

Buhir Rafiq, owner of Total Books, shared his screen with us during his interview and took us on the journey of a completed tax return to demonstrate his favourite part of AM.

The e-signing alone has saved me an hour a client, 130 clients, that's 130 hours. It's an absolute no brainer.”

 

“So once the tax return is finished and needs client approval, I add it to the client’s portal - every single client is document signing here. Then we go over to the timeline, we see the document is in the portal and we’ve sent an email asking him to sign it.”

“The document portal and emails for sending clients their information and LoEs is really good. The e-signing alone has saved me an hour a client, 130 clients, that's 130 hours. It's an absolute no brainer. That's only one little bit of AM before I've scratched the surface.”

You no longer have to pay for software to get people to sign their engagement letter, they can do it through AM.” 

- Beth

Beth at 2 Sisters appreciates not having to shell out for a separate piece of software for e-signing. “Unless you're physically still sending everything out on paper, the chances are you're probably paying for some sort of document management system as well. So why not wind all that into one?”

It’s much easier for them, much easier for us. And we can have an electronic copy with the signature on it without having to scan it in.”

- Harry Walker

Less travel. Fewer costs. Broader horizons. 

“It’s also allowed us to broaden our horizons logistically and geographically.” Muses Bal at Diamond Group. “With the e-signature, especially with Covid, we didn't need to bring people in to sign their papers. And with the system being GDPR compliant, the clients have their own secure area where they can go into the portal to access the information and sign. So it's been good, especially during this time, to get people to move over to this more digital way of doing things.”

If we just look at travelling up and down the country it’s saved us a whole load of time and cost.”

“And they're all up for it, because they're running businesses too, they've got busy lives as well. Sometimes they just don't have the time, right? But if they can do it digitally, then they can finish it a lot quicker as well.”

Clients report saved time, less hassle and even upload docs early

Like many of our users, Zia Tahir has made sure that his clients are happy with how things are working. “I emailed all the clients and asked them for feedback because it's really important that they're happy and comfortable with what we’re using. 

Clients are saying “Why didn't you introduce [the portal] sooner?! You could have saved so much time!”

“All of them said they were very happy with it, especially the document side of it. Now they can go back and download files rather than requesting the documents from us. So they have all that time saved too.” 

I have clients that are already uploading next year's tax documents. That way they know where their documents are and that they’re secure.” 

Beth, at 2 Sisters has found that her clients are using the portal as their primary storage for accounting documents. As such, she’ll see documents pop into portals months before she needs them. “The document portal, I really like that and clients really like it as well. I have clients that are already uploading next year's tax documents. That way they know where their documents are and that they’re secure.” 

Before coming to AccountancyManager, Mark Francis - owner of Mark Francis Bookkeeping Solutions - used IRIS OpenSpace for approving documents.

“I'd noticed clients were struggling.” He recalls. “And they were going to start charging extra, which I wasn't too happy about.”

With AM, people manage to approve things so much easier. They just: click, click, click, done”. 

- Mark Francis

Make the Client Portal look like part of your website

You can add your own branding to the Client Portal and even let your clients sign in through your website, like Anna Nikolovska at Digital Accountancy.

“If you go to our practice website, in the top right corner, you've got a login button. When you click that log in, it takes you straight to AccountancyManager. That's really helped, because previously I had to tell people to go to AM. Now, I just say ‘go to our website, click log in, and that will take you to your portal’.”

New: Now completely white-label the portal

We recently added another option which goes beyond simple branding. Now you can fully embed the Client Portal into your website and give it your own domain name. With this option, you can add your branding in many more places and your clients won’t see AccountancyManager colours or fonts (or name) anywhere.

Remote working and compliance

Will Sterling, at Sterling Accountants, ends our rundown of the portal’s best bits with a note on remote working and compliance. “Where clients might be working from home without access to a printer, getting them to actually sign things would have been very challenging. Having that e-sign functionality built into AM has been brilliant. Otherwise you'd have a separate bit of software and it just adds another layer of complexity. So that's obviously a really, really good tool.”

It's perfect from a compliance point of view that everything's in one software. We can see an audit log of exactly where the client's up to.”

“We also get notified that they've signed it and it's date stamped. So it's perfect from a compliance point of view that everything's in one software. We can go in and 'this client signed this document on this date'. Same with AML. Same with letters of engagement. We can see an audit log of exactly where the client's up to. So it helps so much in that regard.”

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