If you’ve worked in the tax
and accounting profession long enough, you know that strong client
relationships are the foundation of a successful practice.

As technology
becomes more and more integrated into our everyday lives, however, you may be
hesitant to introduce it to your clients for fear of losing that personal
touch. But more and more accounting firms are realizing that cloud-based
applications, like client portals and document sharing, can actually build
stronger client relationships. Here’s why.

1. 24/7
Access

Your clients want accessing their information to be simple—and they don’t want
to have to schedule an appointment to get it. 24/7 access to information is now
expected for both personal and business information. Today’s consumers,
especially millennials, are known for their constant connectivity.
Consider this: A husband and wife are having a budget discussion at 9 pm and
want to access their tax return information. Shouldn’t that be just as easy as
accessing their bank account balance? By offering them cloud-based technology,
specifically client portals, it can be

2. Proactive
Collaboration

The key to stronger client relationships is to stay connected on a regular basis.
Cloud-based file sharing enables you and your clients to exchange source
documents and share files virtually, saving them the time and hassle of making
the trek into your office. Not only is this a huge benefit to clients, but it
also provides tremendous benefits in terms of firm efficiency as your staff can
access information and get work done anytime, anywhere.

Further, the
latest cloud applications provide full integration across all platforms—laptop,
tablet and native mobile apps—with centralized information. So if you or your
clients make a change in one place, it’s automatically updated across all
supporting applications, with no manual synching, importing or exporting. It’s all done in
real time.

3. Security
Being accountants, one of the first questions that may come to mind is whether
or not cloud-based applications are secure. By working with a reputable cloud
service provider that offers the highest level of security against hackers,
fires and natural disasters, data becomes even more secure than it is in an
office because the threat of possible break-ins and physical damage is
eliminated.

Plus, if your
firm uses cloud-based applications and your computer crashes, you can continue
working using a spare computer or a new one, without data loss, because the
cloud backs up all of your files, making them accessible from any device. Plus,
all software updates are pushed out live, without the need to download and
install a program. This virtually eliminates version control and other
potential conflicts with getting software updated.

4. More
Personal Time

Just like you, your clients strive to achieve work/life balance. By having
information readily available through cloud-based solutions like client
portals, you enable them to conduct business with you quickly and
conveniently—and get back to spending their personal time on activities they
enjoy. The cloud also frees up time for accountants, which is particularly
important during the long hours of tax season.

5. They
Expect It!

Virtually everyone uses cloud computing today, even if they don’t realize it.
If your clients access their bank accounts or retirement funds online, check in
to their online health portal, or stream a movie on their tablet or smart TV,
guess what? They are already using the cloud. In today’s world, clients expect
it.

The bottom
line is that cloud-based technology not only enables you to build stronger
relationships with clients, it also makes it possible for your firm to become
more efficient and productive. That’s a win-win. So don’t worry about losing
that personal touch. Use the cloud to your advantage and provide your clients
with the technology they’ve come to expect. You’ll be happy you did.