Survey Says Clients Reluctant to Move to Cloud, but Maybe Firm Message is Making It So

A survey last year by CBA2Biz found that 43% of CPAs, and their clients, are leery of security of cloud-based applications and are hesitant to move client data and firm management systems online.

cpa2bizCPA2Biz, the technology subsidiary of the AICPA, polled 312 CPAs in a range of firm sizes. The survey said the No. 1 obstacle to trying cloud services for the first time is information security concerns. “Client acceptance is the No. 2 barrier, but this may be more a reflection of how firms are positioning their service offerings than a reticence to switch to the cloud.”

CPA Practice Advisor reported on two “modern CPAs” who recently ran a webinar on the subject – Christ Fenster of Propeller Industries of San Francisco and Jody Padar of New Vision CPA Group of Arlington Heights, Ill., who both say they find the benefits outweigh the down sides. Both run firms that rely on cloud-based services.

Padar said it may be the CPA’s discomfort with change that’s holding their clients back. “Just because it’s your fear doesn’t mean it’s your clients’ fear,” she said. “I think a lot of times, CPAs think that their clients won’t want to do this, and that’s really not the case.”

Due diligence is needed, of course, and no option is perfectly secure. The CPAs advise others to ask how information is secured in the cloud, and get details about where the information is stored and how that physical space is protected.

“In my experience, I think that there’s actually a number of ways where security in the cloud is considerably better than it is offline,” Fenster says in CPA Practice Advisor. “Getting [sensitive information] out of the fax machine, off the desktop, out of the filing cabinet, and being able to actually protect it in a place where we have considerably more flexibility in terms of figuring out who has access to it – and controlling access for other people – I think we have a lot more tools that help safeguard security in the cloud.”