Whether you’re a shrimp importer tracking the temperature of shipped shrimp, a nonprofit using state or federal grant funds or a healthcare professional protecting patients, it’s likely you are required to meet compliancy regulations. This, in turn, necessitates a robust compliance management plan.
It’s not enough to track compliance, you also have to be able to collect, secure and report information to regulatory entities. Tracking compliancy is particularly difficult and would be almost impossible without technology as a key tool in successfully meeting regulations.
Regardless of the industry you’re in, most businesses have regulations and requirements they have to abide by, making compliance an essential part of being successful.
The cost of maintaining compliance
The cost of regulatory compliance averages $12,000 a year for most small businesses, says the National Small Business Association. For new businesses, direct and indirect costs to stay compliant in the first year top $80,000.
Today’s businesses are expected to forecast the future almost regularly. You may have a company that is growing rapidly and need to determine how much infrastructure you should implement today to last the next three years. Conditions can change, you can over buy or under purchase, and budget deadlines are quickly approaching.
Do you have a reliable methodology to determine what your headcount and resource needs will be 3 or 5 years from now? How much downtime do you really have and what is it costing you?
Product lifecycles are changing and organizations are at a crossroads on whether to move to the Cloud. With its inherent scalability, predicting your resource needs adequately is easier and can help you remain competitive in the market. An experienced managed Cloud provider brings a proactive viewpoint that looks at your growth goals and recommends adjustments to scale up or down accordingly.
Below are four ways the Cloud can help you budget for growth:
Let’s say you’ve taken your financial services employees out on a work retreat. Looking for activity ideas that might increase your team’s chemistry, your eye falls to bungee jumping. When the nine of you arrive at the place, you’re presented with a waiver stating that you understand the risks and the fact that there’s a four out of nine chance that the line snaps. Of course, you don’t sign it. All of you high-tail it out of there and find the nearest mini-golf place. I, for one, wouldn’t be comfortable with 100 to one odds of an equipment failure, let alone five to four.
Did you know, though, that those are the same odds your office faces every day when it comes to a significant data security failure? It’s true: 41% of financial service organizations experience a data breach or fail a compliance audit. With such a high likelihood of your group confronting data security issues, you need to do everything you can to ensure all your ducks are in a row.
So how do you get from A to B? What are the companies in the 59% that haven’t been breached or failed compliance tests doing that the 41% aren’t? Well, some are just plain lucky. Others, though, laid down the groundwork and invested in strong security technology and personnel. They may have implemented routing security audits, established secure firewall protections, practiced proper encryption for their laptop and cloud data, or all three.
“They never tried to upsell us … they looked for solutions for us, not profits for them.” The good people of Charles, Blank & Karp (CBK), a CPA firm in Encino, needed a solution to their looming IT woes. Their file server, a 2002 vintage that held clients’ most critical documents, was showing signs that it was not long for this world. When the firm’s leaders pow-wowed about how they might go forward, they talked about just getting another server. Only when they started bringing up all of the security considerations involved did they come to the conclusion that the cloud was the solution.
Like all of our clients, Jim Karp (the firm’s managing partner and CPA) found our customized approach to outfitting his firm to be a breath of fresh air. “We’re numbers people,” he says. “We live in numbers; we work with numbers; we love numbers. We also like helping people, so it’s sort of like the best of both worlds.” In that sense, accounting and IT go hand-in-hand. Behind the formulas and cold hard facts, there are people trusting in and relying on you.
While I was an executive at a regional branch of a CPA firm, I worked with a lot of like-minded people and really learned how they tick. The CPAs and other professionals I worked with were great at keeping current in their industry and at protecting client information. After all, tax laws change regularly, and confidentiality is paramount.
But there was something they weren’t great at — CPAs, I learned, as a rule of thumb, are terrible at capturing their time. They’ll work hard with a client, only to either forget or underreport their times, costing the firm in billing revenue. Why does this happen? Isn’t optimizing billing a no-brainer?
The reason this happens is that your technology may be holding you (and your CPAs) back because CPAs meet with clients and then must wait until they get back to their desktop to log times. A cloud solution that allows for mobile time logging helps ensure that you get every dollar that you earn. We’re accountants after all — we should account for every hour!
Would you ever share your financial clients’ account access with a stranger? What about storing their documents on a table in the public library? Of course not. Safeguarding account information from unauthorized access in asset management is paramount. However, if you have weak IT security, that access is surprisingly easy to gain. And if you don’t have a secure data backup, your files could disappear or be corrupted just as readily as if a class of 2nd graders was set loose in that library to wreak havoc.
A tax return is due. A consultation is delayed. A key piece of market information needs to be shared with your entire team. How are you managing all of that activity? If you are counting on assistants or staff members (or yourself) to keep the trains running on time, then you should be excited to learn there is a better way to manage your financial services organization. With hosted Exchange, you can have full calendaring, task management, and email all in one powerful system. In doing so, you’ll increase accessibility without sacrificing control or security. That sounds pretty appealing to most of our clients in your fast-paced environment, where large sums of money can be made—or lost—at a moment’s notice.
We recently worked with a bookkeeping firm in Central California that called us after a weekend attack. A hacker had gained access to the network and downloaded some private company data. Their problem was one we see all too often; not only were they trying to recover from the event, they were left asking how it happened in the first place. “What do we do now?” was their primary question. Our answer was simple: let’s evaluate your network, make it stronger, and work to never let this happen again. Thankfully there was no permanent damage done, and client information was not compromised. But they wisely recognized that it was just a matter of time until this happened again if they left their network unprotected. Our team quickly got to work.