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Why is it important to choose an accountant you can trust?

You probably have a dozen answers to this question. I’m sure it’s a conversation that you have with potential clients all the time.

You might say that a company’s choice of accountant can make or break their business. That a skilled accountancy partner can help you to make smart strategic decisions that drive growth.

That a good accountant can steer you through the rocks and save the day when stormy weather strikes, while a bad one can leave you exposed and vulnerable on a sinking ship.

You might say that a firm’s reputation relies on them staying above board and fully compliant with their legal obligations. On keeping financial risks in check, out of responsibility to investors and shareholders.

You might say that a good accountant is a trusted advisor that keeps his or her clients safe from scandal.

All of which, of course, is true. But in today’s complex technological landscape, are you sure you can still make promises like these?

After all, ever-proliferating cyberattacks means that the threat of falling prey to online thieves is mounting all the time.

As an accountant, you’re responsible for data security when it comes to some of the most sensitive material that a company owns – documents that can become irresistible targets for some insalubrious individuals.

And which, thanks to illegal sites like Darkleaks (a black market for stolen documents, bribes and the like) can be snapped up anonymously by anyone with a vested interest in getting their hands on them.

It might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but it’s not. Some of the biggest financial organisations in the world have been hit by hackers in recent years, showing just how ill-equipped many “trusted partners” are to keep their customers save from scandal – or to avoid it themselves.

For example, the low level firewalls used by many accountancy firms simply aren’t powerful enough to withstand concentrated cyberattacks, or even automated viruses designed to infiltrate company accounts or corrupt precious data. Many rely on basic over-the-counter solutions to protect vulnerable on-site servers.

To reliably safeguard their clients’ data, you need something far more robust in place.

Cloud backups and cloud-based data security shifts your file storage online and into the hands of industry experts.

A decent cloud storage management partner will deploy high grade encryption software that blows your standard off-the-shelf virus protection offerings out of the water. They’ll make sure that your intellectual property is centrally secured, protecting it against data leakage or loss. And, often, they’ll back this up on several servers in different locations, in the remote chance that a physical disaster should ever compromise their safety.

Despite locking up your data in a digital Alcatraz, the best cloud providers deploy high-end corporate access mechanisms with multi-factor authentication options, to make sure that you can get to it quickly when you need to – but that no one else can.

Introducing these best practice measures for your firm’s storage management puts you in a far stronger position to guarantee your clients’ data security and earn their trust. It also brings some pretty compelling material gains for your business.

First, there’s the obvious benefit: avoiding the potentially embarrassing (and horrendously expensive) legal battle that would come with a breach, especially if you’re found to have been negligent in any way.

Then there’s the benefit to your reputation, and the added value that you can offer clients through your regular backups and file storage online.

But there can also be massive savings for your IT department. By shifting data storage and security concerns offsite, you free your IT team from the daily grind of maintenance, updates, patches and so on, allowing them to focus their energies on bigger, more exciting projects to drive your business forward.

The result? Peace of mind for you and your clients – and one less hassle holding you back as you grow.

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