Privacy, workflow tracking, document management and theuse of social networking sites were the top technology trends for accountingfirms expounded by WithumSmith+Brown partner Jim Bourke here at the 2010Accounting Technology New York show.

Bourke addressed a large room of public and privatepractitioners, explaining that many firms are still unaware or untrusting ofwhat available technologies can do for a firm's, and clients', protection,productivity, and level of communication.

 

"We have come a long way from the days of inputsheets, and many of you have spent a lot of money over the years on yourservers and basic infrastructure to run your practice, but I am here to tellyou that nearly every application is migrating to the Web for ourindustry," said Bourke. "I guarantee you that by this time next year,nearly three to four times more of you will say they are doing tax andengagements using an online service."

 

Bourke also explained that of all technology trends, theuse of some form of secure file transfer or storage was the most important. Ashe treated his informational session -- "Recent Trends in Accounting FirmTechnology" -- in a largely Q&A format, Bourke was surprised at thenumber of firms that claimed they were still e-mailing client forms or storingtheir files in a physical location.

 

"[Accountants] still have data all over the place,you are sending and receiving files on all devices, and with the 45 states thathave enacted some form of security breach legislation, you all really need tobe up to date on what the laws are, as well as the technology available to youto run your business securely," said Bourke. He stopped short of fullyendorsing any particular secure file transfer technology, but did call outLeapFile, as well as the use of"several" two-way portals so firms and clients can securelyupload and receive sensitive documents.

 

Another key concern addressed during the Q&A was thequestion of the future need for accounting firms for tax preparation, in lightof Web-based technologies -- such as Copanion's GruntWorx and 1040 Scan bySurePrep -- that provide the ability to scan and populate tax documents. Bourkeassured concerned practitioners that while clients will have the ability toupload and populate the necessary documents, there will always be the need foran accountant to add up and check the work.

 

"There are always going to be forms, such as K1s forstate taxes, where you are going to want to key certain things in," saidBourke. "Overall, I don't think that for the foreseeable future technologyis going to eliminate the need for us."

 

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