By Legal Futures’ Associate Quill
With the COVID-19 lockdown, we’re living and working in difficult times. Solicitors, particularly, are finding themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, law firms have ongoing regulatory obligations to attend to. On the other, enforced restrictions make ‘business as usual’ nigh on impossible.
Add into the mixing pot increased opportunities for fraud, as cybercriminals exploit the abundance of publicity around coronavirus to target individuals or organisations with fraudulent messages, and the current environment becomes a recipe for compliance and crime disaster.
Not for Quill clients. More on this in a moment.
Cast your mind back to 25th November 2019 and the introduction of the revised SRA Accounts Rules. No doubt you conducted an internal audit, and updated your office manual and procedures in order to prepare for the simplified version of the rules. (Remember Quill’s guidance?) But, did you plan what to do in the event of a pandemic? Highly unlikely. And yet here we are now living through one.
The SRA acknowledges that some financial management processes will inevitably not be completed on time due to disrupted working patterns. Month and year end accounting, and annual accountant reporting, for example. However, as industry regulator, the SRA has a responsibility to maintain its absolute focus on protection of client monies.
What this means in real terms is that whilst your business is afforded a level of leniency around submission deadlines, if you are going to be late, you must document the challenges faced and how you attempted to overcome them. By doing so, no subsequent disciplinary action should befall you.
It’s also advised that you draft an addendum about future pandemics and how you’ll respond. This content can sit at the end of your aforementioned office manual, as opposed to the entire document being re-written, setting out your approach to potential repeat episodes of the COVID-19 situation.
Cashiering tasks themselves, however, still need to be done, albeit possibly slightly later rather than sooner (but remember to record good reasons why you’re late!). For legal practices unable to visit their own offices, let alone permit admission to third parties such as accountants, and with no alternative method of undertaking these activities on a remote basis, the delay could be significant.
Many organisations face this distinct possibility, with as yet unknown ramifications, as lockdown continues and no defined end date to quarantine and social distancing measures is in sight. Progressive companies utilising cloud-hosted accounting systems comprising in-built document management functionality can circumnavigate hurdles caused by coronavirus as their employees can do their work uninterrupted by simply accessing financials and related documentation from home. Even better if their accountant can do the same.
That’s exactly what Quill offers – a cloud-based complete practice management system provided with free accountant’s licence. Clients using Interactive empower both their staff and accountant to work anytime, anyplace, any device with a straightforward online login thereby eliminating any impact from unforeseeable disaster, coronavirus or whatever.
That’s regulatory compliance sorted.
Even better, Quill supplies outsourced legal cashiering services whereby its UK-largest cashiering team manage the entire accounting function for clients with the option to use Interactive – called Pinpoint – or legacy legal accounts software – called Precision – according to preference. Its ‘always-available’ guarantee becomes its clients’ business continuity plan. There are no gaps in cover. Ever.
Should clients have an in-house cashiering structure but suffer from short staffing during the coronavirus outbreak, its cashiering support can be instructed on a temporary basis only. Their back office administrative set up is made reliable and robust by Quill until operations return to normal post-coronavirus.
That’s avoidance of delays sorted.
Addressing cybersecurity risks, more prevalent at the moment, Quill’s full portfolio is reinforced by ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials certification. For end users, these industry-recognised accreditations give assurance that sufficient safeguards are in place to protect their business from even the most devious cybercriminals. Let’s face it, everyone’s got enough on their minds right now without cybercrime to worry about too.
That’s cyber resilience sorted.