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The Boomer Bulletin - 2013
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Three C’s of Secure Communication for the Trusted Advisor

Posted By Caralyn Stern, Tuesday, May 14, 2013

This month, Ziptr joined accounting leaders in Kansas City for the 2013 Boomer Technology Circles Spring Meetings.  Finally on the other side of a grueling tax season, these tax and technology leaders come together in the spirit of collaboration to commiserate, learn and challenge each other to grow and thrive.

It is impressive to watch professionals, who have just come off of four months of 7-day work weeks, reunite from across the country to push themselves, their vendors and their peers to be better.  It calls into question their reputation of being analytical introverts, as the room buzzed with stories, laughter and advice. 

One thing remains clear:  accountants care very deeply about their clients.  On the subject of protecting client data, I heard it time and again, "It is not just the law, it is my job.”  It is no wonder Security, Compliance and Privacy made the top 4 in the American Institute of CPA’s annual list of top technology priorities for accountants.  

Communication is the heart of client relationships.  As leading accounting firms evolve into trusted advisors, the need emerges for a trusted communication channel.  Firms cannot expect clients to turn to them for strategic counsel without providing them with a safe, easy way to freely engage in confidential dialogue. For accountants, this means evolving beyond file sharing to open up a secure communication channel, in which professionals and clients can openly share the most sensitive of information without worry.

Further, as Jim Boomer, Director of the Boomer Technology Circles, pointed out, the increased focus on mobile device management signals a shift in the communication culture. With 78% of baby boomers facing retirement age, the next generation will demand a secure communication platform that travels with them and is easy and comfortable to use.  

The Three C’s of Secure Communication
In truth, people really want to just be able to send and receive everything through email.  However, data privacy laws and cyber security realities tell us that is no longer an option.  Sending confidential information via email is like mailing a postcard.  What firms should demand is a safe way to communicate that is so easy to use that clients and employees will actually use it.  

  1. Communication:  Historically, this problem has been addressed as a file transfer problem, but file sharing is only part of client communication.  Trusted advisors and their clients need to be confident that they can include the most sensitive of information in a message or file without worry.   Keeping the messages and files exchanged together in context will eliminate the time spent wondering, "What was I supposed to do with this file?” or "Is this the most recent version?”

    To foster the advisor relationship, your clients need to be able to initiate messages to you, as well as safely reply to your messages.    Providing a secure option to facilitate this will prevent clients from sending you confidential information via email.

  2. Client-focused:  Boomer encouraged firms to invest in tools that put the client before the firm.  If you are asking them to maintain a user-name and password, what do your clients get in return?  Technology today can provide them with the same level of security and convenience as your firm, adding value to your clients’ lives.

    Recognize that it is not if your clients forget their passwords, but when.  Make it easy on them and you.  Responding to requests to reset passwords, resend information or help clients access files is costly, inefficient, and can impact job and client satisfaction.

  3. Convenience:  When I asked my acupuncturist, "what is the best solution?” his calm, Zen response was simply, "The one you’ll use.”  The same rings true of the technology we choose.  It doesn’t matter how cool the latest, greatest software is, if your employees and clients don’t use it.

    Technology needs to be built with the users in mind, leveraging the best of breed of familiar applications that make adoption easy and comfortable.  If your employees use Outlook, integrations allow them to continue operation as usual, but with added security.

    Mobile access is critical.  Employees often cannot or do not want to download software to communicate with their accountant.  Look for solutions that allow your employees and clients alike to safely communicate wherever they go.  You may find some of the most important conversations take place while your employees are on the road, and your clients are on the sidelines at their daughter’s soccer game.

Caralyn Stern is the Senior Director of Marketing at Ziptr. For more information about secure communication solutions, please visit or send Ziptr a message.  

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