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An accounting firm considering to accept cloud technology.

Why CPA’s Need Cloud Services To Survive

Cloud Services For Accountants is More Important Than Ever

As a CPA firm you’re going to have to adjust to this new remote reality. No one expected the lock-down, however, firms operating on the cloud had an advantage over those who hadn’t yet or only did so partially.

Many accounting firms learned to understand how the right technology could help them access and review financial information, create reports, manage accounts and more.

There is no telling how or when businesses will open up. Moreover, reopening A CPA firm to its full capacity requires much more than opening the doors, turning the lights on and wiping off the dust from your desk.

It is a gradual process that requires much planning and the transition itself depends on many factors.

That is why cloud technology has become so pivotal in the last few months. The lock-down put many accounting systems to the test, forcing everyone from individual practitioners to larger firms to operate continually outside of the office.

Firms that migrated to the cloud prior to the lock-down are doing well. Their client data secured in a data center and their applications on a cloud network ready to use. The Accounting industry has been discussing the impacts that would occur as a result of the cloud. Now, it’s no longer a theoretical discussion.

Experts predict cloud accounting to be a permanent feature of any CPA firm. Firms that didn’t migrate to the cloud previously might be asking if it’s too late for them. The answer is a definitive no.

Video Conferencing

Firms that use Microsoft 365 might be familiar with Teams. Teams is one of the many video conferencing applications firms are using to communicate while working remotely.  There are also applications like Zoom, Google hang outs, and Skype. These video tools facilitate collaboration and, with the right cloud service provider, can create an effective remote environment.

Financial services experts and CPA’s are discussing the possibility of permanent remote advising. Remote advisory services was always the direction technology was heading in. However, the lock-down that preceded the COVID-19 pandemic only sped this transition.

These remote services will only be afforded to firms willing to migrate and adopt the virtual tools necessary to perform these roles efficiently.  That means finding a managed services provider with cloud hosting capabilities that are designed to meet your firm’s needs.

 Remote Advising Through The Cloud

Remote advising is the future of the financial services industry. Technology was already in the processes of changing the role of CPA’s towards more advisory positions. With software automating much of the compliance work once handled by an accountant or bookkeeper.

James C. Bourke, a CPA and accountancy technology expert, predicts that if CPA’s are not spending on technology solutions that are accessible remotely, they will be revisited.

“Priorities are going to change on technology spending, once we are all back in the office,” he said in a recent podcast.

Migrating  Your Firm to The Cloud

Can you migrate mission critical applications to the cloud now? Specifically can you migrate Document, tax, engagement, and practice management to the cloud?

According to Bourke, currently, migrating to the cloud will be difficult but CPA’s should do everything they can to prepare themselves for a cloud migration when we return to normalcy.

That requires firms to research the best cloud providers, checking to see if they have the right security and compliance tools to provide your firm with the proper IT support without failing to meet regulation standards.

Technology disruption and the shifting to more advisory services are creating a professional environment where accountants must offer more valued and diverse skill sets.  However, this also means shifting focus to the client’s specific needs and away from other aspects of your practice like software, cyber security and IT services.

Leveraging the Cloud

If you plan on working as a trusted advisor you need to understand the implications of these shifts and what these tools mean for your firm. It’s not only adopting a cloud solution but adopting one that has the services that benefit your firm the most. Migrating to the cloud is like purchasing a car. Just because it has four wheels and an engine doesn’t mean it will be the vehicle you.

There are many types of cloud providers and every cloud provider has different assets, strengths and weaknesses. There are public, private and hybrid cloud. Different cloud companies like Azure have cloud services but require you to pay an extra fee for support services. Nerds Support’s accounting cloud services utilizes software that complies with SOX and FINRA standards, for example.

Other cloud providers like AWS are public clouds with thousands of clients. Their service would be less personal and contacting support is difficult.

Cloud Accounting is The Future

A Survey The New Jersey Society of CPAs, revealed that 40 percent of participants expected a decrease in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The development of cloud technology and remote services will work to mitigate revenue loss once properly implemented.

The abrupt switch from in-person accounting services to remote focused work was jarring. Firms were unprepared for the demands of a remote work environment. However, now that industries, not just Accounting, have seen the results of a shut-in, firms will work to eliminate this vulnerability by revisiting cloud technologies and focusing on remote tools.

Managed Service Providers expect an increase in demand for public cloud services. Specifically, a an increase in SaaS, industry- focused apps. These include collaboration and other productivity and business continuity tools.

The social shift towards online platforms (VOD, social media platform, and cloud gaming) shift focus towards cloud infrastructure automation/management software.

In other words, cloud environment reliability, optimizing online platforms and the performance of your infrastructure determine the success of your firm in the future. Clients now and in the future will require and request online services.

Make sure your firm stays protected and ready for this new shift.

Accountant working remotely from home accessing QuickBooks on his laptop

QuickBooks Hosting is The Solution For Remote Businesses

QuickBooks Is Perfect For Remote Work

As a result of the Lock-down in 2020, many industries, including financial services, are undergoing massive changes. The focus on executing virtual strategies and remote consulting has transformed the landscape of accounting possibly forever.

That  being said, there is a software tool that streamlines accounting processes and facilitates the transition to more permanently remote operations and that is QuickBooks.

QuickBooks is considered one of the most powerful accounting software for businesses across industries. Saving money, time and effort it introduces features that help track and report company finances.

Here are 9 Reasons why QuickBooks Hosting is Right for Your Business

1. Saving Time

Save time on bookkeeping and paperwork because many of simple bookkeeping tasks are handled automatically making it easier to run your business.

Bookkeeping paperwork has always been a hassle but with the emergence of remote advising, filing, sending and managing the appropriate documentation is more difficult and time consuming. QuickBooks automates simple bookkeeping tasks that would otherwise make running your business remotely more challenging.

2. Reports and Data are Easy to Access

Generate reports with the information you need, so you always know where your business stands. You instantly know whether you’re making money and whether your business is healthy.

You can generate reports that would require gathering resources and information not readily on hand. QuickBooks software contains assets that let you know where your business is in terms of finance. You’ll find information that tells you how much money your business is making and organize your financial strategy.

3. Cost Efficiency

Remote working could be seen as an opportunity to cut costs, or at the very least, reallocate resources. QuickBooks is an affordable application that runs at scale. Whether it’s a $6 million or a $46 million business, you can use this tool for a few hundred dollars. Achieving the most for the least.

4. Promotes Business Growth while Staying Complaint

Growth Is imperative and working remotely doesn’t change that. QuickBooks gives you the right tools and data to use when designing a business plan. Maybe you want to secure a small loan or open a credit line for your small business. You’re able to create a balance sheet, statements of profits and losses, and cash flow charts, all of which follow theU.S. Small Business Administration’s compliance guidelines.

5. Customization and Scalability

As I alluded to above, QuickBooks is designed for scalability. The tool is flexible enough to work for a large variety of small businesses across multiple industries. Furthermore, it has custom accounting packages for CPA’s, Health Care professionals, Retailers and more.

6. Broad Range of Tools for Almost Every Business

QuickBooks is expanding their services and plans to get to over ten million users by the decades end. There are currently 2.55 million subscribers to QuickBooks. Those are 2.55 million customers that leverage the tools and features QuickBooks offers to improve their businesses.

7. Automated Backups

QuickBooks hosted solutions has an automated backup service. This keeps important financial data safe. Partnered with the right cloud provider, data is guaranteed to stay secure and accessible.

8. Invoicing is Easier

Working remotely forces you to work with the digital tools you have in hand. When processing payments through QuickBooks, all that’s required is a simple email transaction. E-mail a statement or invoice, you’re able to process payments with credit card or bank account transfers digitally and in one central hub.

9. No additional hardware or Software Needed

Remote work is requiring businesses to restructure how they accept payment. Your clients will have to complete transactions digitally rather than in person and QuickBooks Merchant Account Services integrates with software to retain client data. In other words, returning clients won’t have to input the same information more than once. Card Scanning machines, or payment squares ineffective in a remote setting. QuickBooks allows for remote operations to continue without issue.

I.T. Doesn’t Stop There…

QuickBooks is an invaluable resource for a business looking to thrive in a remote environment. If you want a solution that protects your business infrastructure and Computer devices, I recommend looking for a Managed services provider that has QuickBooks integration. Nerds Support is a QuickBooks hosting partner and includes QuickBooks with all its other IT services and cyber-protection software.

Finding a managed IT provider that comes with QuickBooks hosting will save your business even more money. Instead of having QuickBooks separate from your IT and cyber security needs, you’ll have everything set up in one place. And with the amount of phishing and cyber attacks targeting remote businesses it’s a good idea to focus on your IT infrastructure as well.

Cyber criminal breaching federal emergency loan site for access to money.

8,000 Emergency Loan Applicants Affected by Data Breach

The SBA Was Breached

8,000 small business owners who applied for loans from the Small Business Administration potentially had their personal information exposed last month, admits the agency.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL) offers up to $10,000 to owners currently struggling with their businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who Is Affected?

The breach affects people who applied for the EIDL. Traditionally, it was used to aid owner whose businesses were impacted by tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Congress expanded it in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act.

Notification letters were sent to 7,913 applicants possibly impacted by the breach and then the letters were posted online. The letters revealed that personal data could have been exposed to other applicants. This data included phone numbers, addresses, dates of birth, income and financial information, and social security numbers.

What’s In the Loan Program?

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL) offers up to $10,000 to owners currently struggling with their businesses due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

A Trump administration official described the issue to CNBC saying that an error occurred when some owners would hit the back button on a page they would see the information of someone else’s businesses rather than their own.

How Did The SBA Find Out?

According to reports by the Washington Post, the SBA was initially silent on the duration of the breach or about details of its discovery. Businesses that may have been affected were notified by the SBA and offered one free year of credit monitoring.

The Agency said it discovered the vulnerability on March 25 and notified those affected with letters. A copy of the letter was posted by a victim after the breach. The letter itself mentioned that there is no sign of data misuse as of last week.

What’s The SBA’s Track Record?

Business owners have had issues with the disaster loan website before. The site was taken down for maintenance for several hours on March 16, and owners could not apply during that time. On March 29, the SBA revised its application process for the disaster loans and owners had to reapply. Many learned days or weeks later that they needed to reapply.

Business owners experienced issues with the loan website previously. In fact, the site was taken down for maintenance for hours on March 16. This meant owners couldn’t apply for a loan in that time. About two weeks later on March 29, the SBA updated the application process for the loans and owners were required to reapply.

How Much Money Was Allocated?

As of April 19, SBA had approved almost 27,000 EIDL loans valued at $5.6 billion. Another 755,000 businesses received EIDL grants worth a total of $3.3 billion. The Trump administration official told CNBC that 4 million business owners had applied for assistance worth $383 billion—far more than the $17 billion allocated for the program.

Even before the breach the agency website was strained by a flood of applications for the loan that overburdened funding, keeping businesses waiting for weeks to receive money.

Before the COVID-19 crisis small businesses should have been eligible for up to $2 million in disaster loans. Unfortunately, because millions of companies are now seeking assistance,  the SBA had to limit the loans to the previously mentioned $10,000

What are the Risks Now That There Was a Breach?

That being said, the SBA approved nearly 27,000 EIDL loans since April 19. However, the breach raises a problem for anyone looking to exploit personal information on the website for social engineering scams. IBM Securities published research revealing it had seen a 6000% increase in email campaigns impersonating the SMB.

For more information on cyber security, cloud, remote work and more, visit Nerds Support’s blog.

 

FINRA updates with a cybersecurity alert COVID-19

FINRA Announces Security Measures for Financial Firms

Like other businesses, firms have taken measures to mitigate COVID-19 related risks. These include,  employees and associates working remotely or video conferencing to maintain efficiency while social distancing policies are in place.

Although focusing on the health of members and associate is important, it is also imperative to be aware of the cyber security vulnerabilities that are manifesting as well.

As workers accustom themselves to remote processes, financial firms should take steps to protect themselves and their clients from an influx cyber-attacks on home networks.

FINRA Alert

In March 2020 FINRA released a notice that firms should take appropriate measures to protect client information on business and home networks as well as mobile devices and tablets.

Cyber Attacks On The Rise

Cyber attacks related to financial relief checks went up in the last few weeks, while hackers continue to target vulnerable individuals.

Cyber security firm Check Point reported an average of 14,000 coronavirus-related cyberattacks per day in the past week, six times the average daily attacks in the second half of March. Additionally, this recorded number shot up to 20,000 daily attacks since April 7.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) related scams are growing exponentially as job loss, social distancing and unsecure home networks provide the conditions for hackers. Phishing scams, investment fraud, and fraudulent CDC emails are just a few ways cyber attackers are leveraging the virus.

According to a recent article by The Hill, the FBI saw a spike in reported cyber crimes on its Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), as hackers and cyber criminals take advantage of Americans’ move towards primarily online activity.

Home and Office Networks

Establish a secure connection when accessing your firm’s work environment. This can be done by setting up a VPN Virtual (Private Network) or partnering up with a Managed Services Company that can secure your network.

When using a Wi-Fi connection, secure it with security measures like WPA2 or HTTP strict transport security. These measures prevent hackers from accessing your network or infiltrate your site with man-in-the middle cyber-attacks.

Update software and patches regularly. Cloud security and compliance platforms like Workplace, which is used and integrated by Nerds Support as well, automatically run a diagnostics on potential security vulnerabilities on work devices.

Make changes to the user names and passwords of home Wi-Fi routers if they use default user names and passwords.

Always lock your screen when leaving your devices. Whether you are in a shared work environment or alone, it is never a good idea to leave your devices open when unattended and out of sight.

File and back-up your data frequently. For example, Nerds Support backs up all of our client data and store it in an offsite data center that can be accessed through our cloud network. This means that data can never be lost and guarantees all personally identifiable information (PPII) is safe and accessible by the firm.

Common Attacks

Although we’ve gone over COVID-19 related cyber attacks in another blog, we’ll briefly review them here.

  • Phishing scams that reference COVID-19, the coronavirus or related information.
  • COVID-19 phishing scams that ask for personal information.
  • Phone calls that request personal information like a password or payment card information. This is known as Vishing.
  • Strange or suspicious emails that come with a link or attachment and request you to open them for “special offers” or deals.

Continuity Planning

Understand your firms policies and establish a business continuity plan. In the event of a security breach, an outage, a stolen or lost device, or phishing attack, what steps is your firm taking to remediate the issues?

Contact Information

When using a video conferencing app or service, ensure the appropriate security measures are included in their policies.

Develop a structure for access to sensitive data and systems.

Provide staff with all the necessary contact information. Establish a plan for communication (where and how). Are you communicating through a VoIP system or Video conferencing application?

Assess and Verify

Do not hesitate to alert your IT department or team when confronted with any of the issues we’ve discussed. It is not uncommon for remote workers to overlook these points. Keep constant communication with everyone in your IT team to ensure all protocols are being followed and your systems remain aligned within regulation standards.

If you want a free IT Assessment to verify your systems are secure you can always contact us here.

Now is the perfect time to assess your technology. Check if your existing IT is up to standard or consider c0-managed services to strengthen your IT capabilities.

Do you know if the computer you use to access client data is safe? Don’t compromise your firm by leaving security vulnerabilities unchecked.

The cloud connects you to your team and devices

What’s Better: Google Cloud or Nerds Support Cloud ?

These days, cloud services have become more than a corporate luxury, it has become a necessity for every business. Commercial clouds, like Google Cloud, seem like a great way to run your business. But once you do the research, you might find that having cloud computing, mixed with a great IT consulting team can increase your business productivity and help you grow in the long run. Our Miami IT Service Providers have listed key differences between running your business on Google Cloud and running your business with a reliable IT consulting team.

 

CloudServices_ITservices_Miami

Hosted Solutions

To have hosted exchange services in Miami means to have support with software systems and application support. Nerds Support offers Hosted Solutions for just about any business application you need to have a full-functioning business. As a proud partner of Microsoft, our cloud services include Office 365 for your business’ fundamental needs. We also include other great services, like Quickbooks hosting and even Adobe, to help your business become more efficient.  Hosting solutions are not included with Google Cloud. This means you will have to pay an additional charge for Google’s email option, G-Suite. Eventually, you will have to pay more money to have space saved in Google Drive. Contrary to popular belief, Google Drive and Google Cloud are two separate things. Google Drive carries all the tools needed to keep a business organized. However, after filling up the free space, you must begin paying for Google Drive for space. Google does not keep all its business applications in one place, so organization can be difficult, especially for a business.

Client Support

Did you know that when you purchase cloud services from Google, some plans will have you wait up to four business hours to receive support for a critical issue? That means that if your business network is down at 3pm, your business might as well just close for the entire day, because according to Google’s 9-5 business hour wait, the earliest time you might receive help will be at 11am, the next business day. If you choose not to wait, then you may attempt to figure out the solution to your issue by yourself. As a business owner, you know that finding a solution can cause downtime, which is bad for business. But waiting for support to help you can cause a complete business shut down, which is worse for business. When faced with a critical issue that can slow down your business, Nerds Support’s IT help desk is a 24/7 immediate IT support service that will always answer your call and have your business issues handled within the hour. When you hire an IT services team, you get professionals that are committed to keeping your business running. Having Managed IT services in Miami means that your business will always have the help and support that builds successful, long-lasting businesses.

Data Recovery

Data Recovery is undisputedly one of the most important factors to look for when looking for an IT consulting team. As the term implies, data recovery is a service that saves a backup copy of your data. So if some type of disaster happens, you will have another copy of your information so you can keep working. Our IT support experts backup your company’s data at a recommended rate of once a day. Should your business be caught in a horrible situation where your company information becomes lost, you can count on Nerds Support to have backups your systems and data in multiple locations so that your business can get up and running again as soon as possible. When you run your business through Google Cloud, you don’t get the constant monitoring that an IT services team provides. Rather, you would have to do the data backup yourself. Your only guidance would be a webpage with directions that you could only hope you would do right. If you do not follow those instructions carefully, you could end up losing all of your business information. Losing all your data would known as a business owner’s worst nightmare. At Nerds Support, we understand that these things can be nerve wracking and our Miami-based IT experts are well-versed in small things like backing up data and files, so you would not have to worry about completing that task.

Finding Cloud Services in Miami

When you start out on business, you are most likely one person, or a team of people, with one idea. You may still be looking for a solid marketing plan and you might not have a clear execution in place. For that moment of time, keeping your business in Google Cloud seems like a great idea. However, as your business grows, so will your ambitions and your business model will mature with your business. When that time comes, your business is ready to seek out an IT service provider. With IT consulting by your side, your business will have everything it needs in order to become efficient and successful. From Data protection to Hosting Solutions, if you are looking to build a better business by gaining an experienced, reliable IT support team in Miami, FL, then call Nerds Support today at 305-551-2009 or simply fill out a contact form here.