Accountancy firms are ever evolving, and keeping up with the latest developments isn't always easy. The last few years have placed big demands on accountants in addressing new data protection laws, Making Tax Digital and all the other regulatory developments. At the same time there's a digital revolution taking hold of the business world.
We're here to help make sense of the technology that's on offer to accountants. A really useful tool, that hasn't yet reached its full potential in the accountancy sector, is the digital signature. Let's explore what it offers.
What is a digital signature?
The purpose of a digital signature is the same as a handwritten signature – but in today's online world it's fundamental to confirming agreement fast and securely in a digital environment.
Instead of using pen and paper, a digital signature uses digital 'keys'. These attach the identity of the person to the document they are signing, digitally recording their commitment. It is much more difficult to forge a digital signature than a handwritten one.
How can digital signatures help accountants?
Here are the main ways in which digital signatures can benefit accountancy firms:
- Traditionally, a document that needed signing would either need to be sent by post or hand delivered in a pre-arranged meeting. That meant it could take days or even weeks to get a signature in place. Today, a digital document can be exchanged and signed in seconds.
- Digital signatures were created to prevent fraud and other illegal activity. They are protected by the highest levels of encryption at every stage – from when the signing takes place through to when the document is securely stored or archived. You can also use software provided for free by digital signature software providers to verify the integrity of the signature, to ensure no one has tampered with the document since the signing of it.
- A digitally signed document can be stored like any digital file. There is no longer any need to have a locked filing cabinet in your office. All documents remain accessible in seconds from anywhere in the world to anyone who has your given authorisation to access it.
- A digital signature carries the same legal status as a handwritten signature. It is a legally binding commitment to the document that has been signed. The Law Commission goes intro great depths on the legality of electronic signatures.
- Anyone within your practice will be able to find the signed document if it is needed, provided that they have approved access to your digital filing system.
How can I adopt digital signatures in my accountancy practice?
It is a fairly simple process to adopt digital signatures. It's important to ensure that the tool you adopt is fully secure, trusted and reliable.
Our own tool, accSEND, combines digital document exchange and digital signature so that you can send and receive files with your clients to be signed – in seconds.
Hundreds of accountancy firms are using this technology and tell us that is revolutionising how they do business. To find out more about accSEND and how it works, watch our video.