On 25th May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will come into effect. This will change the way that we at websters are allowed to exchange data with you, our clients. Under GDPR we cannot include confidential information in an email. The level of fines for the firm of any breach of the new rules is more than sufficient incentive for us to make a change. However, it also appears to be the case that any member of our team who allows confidential information to be sent to the wrong person may well have committed a criminal offence. We are sure that you will understand that this is a risk which the firm cannot allow, even though it will undoubtedly make it less convenient for all of us.
We have decided that to comply with the GDPR we will use a secure web based client portal. You may well be wondering “what is a client portal?”. In a nutshell, a client portal is a secure, private website (one for each client) which allows documents to be shared in a secure and private online environment. Each user will be given a unique web address, user id and password to access their private portal. When we want to send you confidential information – such as your draft accounts – then we save the document to the Portal and send you a link to tell you that it is there.
The client portal has the following advantages over the current email system:
- GDPR compliant.
- Access to your portal using the Internet from anywhere.
- Access is only via your unique web address, user id and password.
- Strong SSL encrypted connection.
- Safe against email viruses which attack via the email client.
- All aspects of the client portal have specific permissions at a person level including individual folders and documents.
- Documents stored in the cloud separating it from security risks of your own computer.
- The cloud contains an audit trail of versioning and backups.
- Increased file size limitations – so documents do not get blocked by the email server.
- Self-service access to a private store of key documents – e.g. final accounts.
Websters will set up your portal for you to use. We will provide an easy to use help booklet to start you on your journey and all the staff here at websters will be able to offer you support if required.
We have now launched the client portal for all new clients joining the firm and it is well received. We are faced with a major task to create this for each existing client and to introduce each client to it in turn. This will have to be a staged process. Therefore, our current plan is to introduce you to our client portal only as we need you to look at a document which we have stored for you. If you want to have this set up immediately then please let us know.
Eventually each client will receive three pieces of unique information to allow them to log-on. You need all three to get access – making it secure even from someone who knows you. Firstly, your unique URL. Although this includes your name it also includes a client code – making it harder for someone to guess. Secondly a unique ID and finally a password. This is machine generated.
We have already had very useful feedback from clients who had agreed to test the system. We would welcome any further feedback to make the system better and better moving forward. Any good ideas of how to improve collaboration to make your lives easier are welcome.