If someone had told you 20 years ago that everyone you know — from elementary-age kids to octogenarians — would be walking around with handheld devices that could connect to just about anything from anywhere, would you have believed it?
Today, computers, smartphones and tablets give us instant accessibility through the cloud, changing the way we do virtually everything, from banking to traveling to dating. Why should accounting be any different?
Mobility in Mind
Jodee Paape, CPA/PFS, managing partner of Jodee Paape & Associates, LLC — a full-service accounting firm in South St. Paul, Minnesota — felt much the same way. So, when she was presented with the opportunity to take part in a pilot program for Thomson Reuters Onvio, a new set of cloud-based tax and accounting products, she jumped at the chance.
“Onvio was an opportunity for us to get in on the ground floor of something we’d been hoping to see for a long time,” she says. “We were really excited about the ability to get information to our clients in a new and very user-friendly way. [Onvio] felt like the online things folks do — online banking, online learning.”
Paape was already familiar with UltraTax CS, Practice CS, Fixed Assets CS and other CS Professional Suite products, as they’ve been using them to provide stellar service to their clientele, which includes approximately 1,000 individual clients, more than 200 small businesses and 60-plus estates and trusts. And since it’s important to Paape and her staff to tailor their services to the needs of their clients, Onvio was a logical next step.
“We need to stay abreast of what people expect, particularly from technology,” Paape says. “They want to be able to access their records 24/7. And while they want a personal touch, they also want to get answers without necessarily talking to us directly. All of those things are important when we’re trying to stay current and be relevant to the next generation.”
Mobility in Hand
“We have a lot of young clients. Say we’re missing their car license tab information. We can say to them, ‘Go out, take a picture of your license plate information and send it to us.’ Or, ‘Take a picture of your mortgage statement and send it to us.’ The mobile app is wonderful — they all love it because they live by their phones. It makes our job easier, and it makes the clients feel more connected. We’re responding to their needs and the way they like to do business.”
Paape loves that Onvio is so customizable, allowing her to set up the interface the way she wants, using wording that makes sense to her clients. Other staff members have their favorite functions, too.
Firm administrator Mary Love is impressed with the ease of setting up online access in Onvio Client Center, the product the firm has seen the most use of and efficiency from. “It’s easy to set up portals, particularly for our 1040 clients,” she says.
Deb Nelson, CPA, Paape & Associates’ other managing partner, says Onvio has allowed the firm to provide clients with additional security at no additional cost to the client. “Good security can be expensive, and for small businesses, cost is very important. Onvio is something we can offer at no cost to them, and they can use it to send us private and confidential information. On the flip side, we can securely give them what they need from us. It’s a great, safe way to communicate. Plus, I think because we’re providing something that big firms do — even though we’re a small firm ourselves — they feel they’re working with a company that cares about security.”
Of course, there’s the big question: Do Paape & Associates’ clients like using Onvio?
Jody Glowaski, who works in the front office fielding client phone calls and doing bookkeeping, has heard lots of good feedback. “Once they get in and register, they see how easy it is for them to download information into and get it out of their portals. It’s so quick — for me to get something into their portal, it’s almost like they’re sitting there and can see it.”
To learn more about Thomson Reuters Onvio, visit tax.tr.com/onvio.