When it comes to preparing taxes, one of the most difficult aspects for any accounting firm is figuring out how to interact with their clients. No matter how much accounting professionals may wish otherwise, clients stand to remain an essential part of the tax preparation process. Without their approval and verification, nothing goes forward. In the past, that meant mailing a ton of paper, spending a ton of postage, and waiting around for a reply. With today’s technology and a client-facing workflow, that no longer has to be the case. Rather than using a cumbersome method like snail mail or email, many businesses now rely on client-facing workflow software, sometimes referred to as a “portal,” to securely transfer documents and acquire digital signatures. Here, we take a look at some of the best options for 2020.
For the purposes of this article, we will be reviewing only standalone portal software. Some tax web service suites, like Reuters NetClient and Wolters Kluwer CCH, provide a client portal as part of their offerings. However, these options tend to be more cumbersome and less full-featured than their standalone competitors. They’re not a bad option, but unless you already use these programs, you won’t begin to solely for client portal purposes.
SafeSend & SafeSend Returns
SafeSend Returns bills itself as “not just another client portal,” and with robust functionality and ease of use, they deliver on that promise. Built on the back of SafeSend’s excellent document and delivery and encryption software, SafeSend Returns provides a client with step-by-step instructions on how to handle their end of a return, going so far as to point them to relevant information and places where action is needed. The major downside of SafeSend Returns is its top-tier pricing, but with a demonstrable savings of $40 per return, it can provide immense value to high-volume firms.
OneHub is an excellent option for businesses who prioritize security above all. With end-to-end encryption and customizable client portals, the software offers a blend of solidity and functionality. All users will be required to create accounts in order to access shared documents, which may be burdensome to some clients, but functions very intuitively. In fact, OneHub is one of the easiest to use client portals out there. Pricing begins as low as $30 per month.
Sharefile, a Citrix software, is slightly more expensive than OneHub and comes with a few unique features you won’t find anywhere else. Co-editing, approval requests, and e-sign capabilities make parsing large documents straightforward, a huge boon come tax time. They also offer guaranteed regulatory compliance, and what the company calls “virtual data rooms,” a place where multiple users can share information securely.
Client Hub An amazingly simple platform to automate all client interactions and unblock your work: collect client documents, instantly resolve questions, and share deliverables and files.
Like SafeSend Returns, SmartVault is built specifically with accounting professionals in mind. Robust security, branded client portals, and cloud-based document storage are among the software’s top-line features. You’ll also find full e-signature functionality, workflow automation features, and plenty of built-in integrations. If you want something accounting-focused and don’t mind sacrificing other features, SmartVault is a solid choice.
Putting it all together
No client portal can replace the centrality of comprehensive internal accounting software. AccountingSuite can provide the platform upon which you build your client-facing workflow portal interactions, no matter the options you choose. Hear here to find out how we do it.