With a client base numbering close to 3,000 and offices across Sussex and Kent, Manningtons have become one of south-east England’s best-established accounting practices. From their head office in Heathfield, East Sussex, they offer a wide range of accounting, taxation, and financial management services. Like all professional practitioners, they have had to respond to the challenge of GDPR.
Manningtons relationship with Safe4 began in 2010, shortly after the secure document delivery and storage service was launched. Alan Staples, Managing Partner at Manningtons, recognised that the application of technology to the running of an accountancy practice was gathering pace, and was determined to explore better and more secure ways to communicate with the firm’s clients. Traditional methods of communication such as hard copy post and email were still in everyday use, as indeed they were in much of the UK business community. However, these methods were often costly and inefficient, and in recent years have become increasingly unsafe as online fraud and theft have emerged as significant threats.
GDPR is driving change
The adoption of the Safe4 service by Manningtons has gathered momentum with the arrival of the General Data Protection Regulation across Europe. Alan Staples is extremely conscious that protecting Manningtons clients from misuse or loss of personal information is not only best practice, but is also demanded by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales. Thus combining a high standard of service to clients with a high level of compliance has triggered a significant increase in the use of Safe4 as a means of getting confidential information to and from clients.
Alan’s view on this matter is very clear: “We can no longer send confidential information to clients by email. That is the clear directive to our staff, and we are now putting Safe4 to greater use in order to ensure that we are taking the best possible care of our clients’ interests. Manningtons serves a very varied client base across a range of different sectors. Not all of our clients have been quick to adopt the use of modern technology, but they are now increasingly aware of the risks that they run by sticking with email as a way of transferring their confidential information. We cannot run the risk of email intrusion, and must ensure that client information is kept confidential at all times. The Technical Helpsheet from the ICAEW makes it clear that even if clients ask us to use email, this should not be an option that we choose.”
In areas such as payroll management, for example, the need for security is paramount. The application of Safe4 to the transfer of key personal and financial information has increased significantly, and is not only providing heightened security but is also aiding efficiency. Above all, Manningtons is able to offer GDPR-compliant services to its clients, thereby ensuring that their clients’ businesses and reputations are not damaged by costly and avoidable breaches or leaks of information.
Ben Martin, director of Safe4, is delighted with the progress that Manningtons have made in their adoption of Safe4. “We have enjoyed a close relationship with Manningtons since 2010, and they were one of the first professional practitioners to adopt Safe4 in their business. The advent of GDPR has led to important changes in the way that the Safe4 system works, giving greater control to our customers and increased security to their clients” claims Martin. “We are in the process of making some significant enhancements to Safe4, including several that will be of value to Manningtons – such as the ability to sign documents within Safe4 – and it is of great value to have their feedback and input as we go forward.”
Safe4 has adapted to address the requirements of GDPR
GDPR has provided a catalyst for many businesses to overhaul the way that they manage their communication with their clients, and the recent changes in the Safe4 system have supported this. The ability for a complete client vault to be deleted permanently is clearly an essential requirement, and this has been handled within the Safe4 system not just by the irrevocable deletion of data, but the maintenance of an audit trail record of the deletion and the “stub” of data that recorded the activity within the vault while it was live. This audit trail will protect Safe4 customers by providing an evidential record should a former client have been engaged in illegal or improper activity, and is fully compliant with the GDPR requirement for data retention by contract.
Safe4 also allows a Subject Access Request report to be generated at the touch of a button, should a client ask for all of the personal information to which they have had access.
By increasing the adoption of the Safe4 system across its business, Manningtons is building a strongly compliant platform for further growth in the south east of England. Safe4 is also enjoying the benefit of a close relationship with a professional customer whose real-world experience is proving to be a valuable reference point for the functional development of the system.
If you would like more information on how the use of Safe4 can support your GDPR compliance programme, please contact us.