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The age of Transparency

3 March 2012 No Comment

There have been a few discussions recently in the press, about this sector or that sector aiming for greater transparency. We were introduced to the idea of transparency, properly, during a visit to Oxford University in 2009. Until then, we only had a fledgling idea on an in-house project which we were calling “openness”.

The transparency report on the Proactive web site http://www.proactive.uk.net

Although businesses are generally slow to take up this new concept (and to date the initiative has been discussed mainly amongst central and local government) we are aiming to roll out our own version of transparency and we have already started with a few select clients. If it works well, then on 1 Jan 2013 we hope to do it across the board.

The idea is that we will share documents on a specified client, with that specified client and nobody else. By careful use of DropBox we can allow a client to see everything that we do on their file. That includes direct correspondence with them, hitherto unseen correspondence between us and the tax office, notes of meetings, backing schedules, just about anything that is a document will make its way into the cloud. A secure, safe, encrypted bit of the cloud!

This is a warts and all exercise. If there’s a colourful description of a note of meeting in 2008 (before “transparency” was under consideration) it’s going into the cloud and the client can see it. There is nothing desperately shameful in our records for us worry about, and we know that the vast majority of clients will welcome the opportunity to see what we did and when. Or to see how much we did, or how little.

It works both ways, which is why we’re going for it. Sometimes many months of reminders lead to no response. We can now demonstrate not only what we did and when but also who did what when and who did nothing. We can already detect one or two people groaning in despair!

Anyway, the whole idea may be subject to a few teething troubles, but in the long run it will make the accountant and client relationship better for both of us. If your accountant is a bit too opaque, how about giving us a call? Transparency has arrived!

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