You may have come across the term “client portal” and wondered what exactly that means. In a nutshell, a client portal is a secure place to store information for clients of financial advisors, CPA’s, medical practitioners, and other fields that deal with sensitive information.
For example, a financial advisor can share information with clients about account balances, holdings, or performances though a secure portal. All that information is viewed in one place, which is an effective and convenient way to share large amounts of data.
Not all portals are alike: some are simply a place for online storage and exchange, while others will also send invoices, report on account or fund balances, or collect credit card payments.
So who should be using a client portal? Any business that shares confidential communications with clients, whether they’re legal, financial, or medical in nature, could benefit from using a client portal. In addition to providing a secure way to share communications, client portals also help streamline vast quantities of documents. That also makes them ideal for lawyers, who typically generate significant amounts of paperwork, as well as manufacturers.
Many accountants use client portals to get documents needed from clients and post tax returns, in addition to exchanging QuickBooks files or entering payroll information. Most client portals come with high-security encryption, making them a safe place to share those documents.
There are a wide variety of client portal providers out there, and the prices vary significantly as well. Many providers design client portals specifically for certain industries. For example, Thompson Reuters provides client portals for tax and accounting firms, as does CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business.
Prices can range from thousands of dollars per year (such as Thompson Reuters’ packages, which can be as much as $2,100 annually for 1,000 portals and 500 GB of storage per portal) to merely hundreds. Leapfile offers a Standard professional plan for $10 per month for one user and a 10 GB transfer quota. For $20 the Premium plan includes 50 GB of cloud storage and a 50 GB transfer quota.
Whichever provider you choose, be sure to opt for one that includes a high level of encryption and ensures regular backup in case of a disaster.
image via Creative Commons