These days, we’re accustomed to accessing anything we want exactly when we want it. And while that’s certainly a benefit if you’re looking to catch an Uber in an unfamiliar city or hunt for a last minute gift using Amazon Prime, the downside of the hyper-digital age that we live in is a growing concern about the security of our confidential information.
With stories of hacking scandals making headlines at an alarming rate, the need to find a safe way to share files is greater than ever.
This is especially true in the financial services industry.
For many financial advisors, the tried and true method of on-site storage is still the preferred way of maintaining important client files — no matter how inefficient or susceptible to security risks that may be.
Others, have utilized email as their preferred means for sharing important files.
Unfortunately, email attachments simply don’t afford the level of security required to protect clients’ sensitive information and comply with regulatory requirements.
That’s where cloud-based file sharing software comes in.
Unlike email attachments, the best file sharing providers incorporate sophisticated encryption technology that allows important documents to be shared without fear of them falling into the wrong hands.
In theory, this all sounds great — but can we be honest with each other?
When you think of the financial planning profession, “tech savvy” is probably not the first adjective that comes to mind, right?
And while that’s beginning to change with more financial advisors choosing to go the virtual route, both in the way they interact with clients and their internal teams, the fact still remains that a significant portion of the industry is reluctant to embrace new technology.
The same can be said for many clients.
For better or for worse, though, the sharing of important data (with clients and your team) is a necessary part of the financial planning process.
The key is finding a solution that makes the process easy for all parties while ensuring that those important documents don’t fall into the wrong hands.
Here are a few of the most popular file sharing applications available for financial planning firms.
Google Drive is arguably the most familiar cloud-based file sharing service, primarily due to the marketing genius of the Google brand. As the name implies, the Google Drive allows for documents to be easily shared among the other G-Suite products (Gmail, Docs, Sheets, etc).
- Works well with suite of other Google products,
- Since it’s Google, the search function is very powerful and incredibly useful if you have a lot of documents to manage
- Works with multiple file types (PDF, Word docs, Excel, jpg/png images and more
- Offers the ability to work on files offline
- Two-factor authentication
The Basic Google for Business plan starts at $5 per user, per month with 30 GB of storage and base-level security and administration controls. Their most popular plan, Business, increases to $10 per user, per month for additional features that include unlimited cloud storage and advanced security controls.
Want a discount on your first year? Use this link for 20% off of your first year on the G Suite Basic (promo code: WA3RQRKRJD7XCAV) or G Suite Business (promo code:Y7C4WGJX4J3D4NU) plans
DROPBOX FOR BUSINESS
Dropbox for Business is another familiar cloud-based tech company that provides a secure platform for financial advisors to create and/or share data with their team and clients. When it comes to cloud storage, practically everyone knows what Dropbox is. That name recognition has the potential of making clients much more comfortable when it comes to downloading and sharing files.
- Available via desktop apps, mobile apps, or on the web
- Easy and secure sharing or viewing of documents, photos, and videos
- Editing access allows your team to edit, comment on, and view files
- Anytime, anywhere access
- File recovery and version history of documents
For an individual user, $8.25 per month for 1 TB of data. For teams, the Standard Package starts at $12.50 per month for 2 TB of data or $20 per month for the Advanced package with unlimited data.
ShareFile offers industry-leading security that integrates with many of the tools that financial advisors already use. In addition, ShareFile makes e-signatures, feedback, and approvals a straight-forward and more cohesive process for clients.
- Bank-level encryption
- The ability to add controls to individual files and folders
- Remote wipe of lost devices
- No downloads or plugins required
- Compatibility with all iOS, Android, and Windows devices
The Personal package is $16 per month for one employee with 100 GB of storage, while the Team package is $60 per month for 5 employee accounts with 1 TB of storage.
No matter what cloud-based file sharing solution you decide, there are a few additional measures you can put in place to safeguard confidential information and block unauthorized access.
- Require individual logins (for both your team and clients) to gain access to shared information.
- Only permit a select few individuals the ability to share information with additional parties.
- If possible, activate a “notify when accessed” feature. Using this feature alerts you anytime important information has been accessed, and by whom. That way if there is unauthorized access, you’ll be aware of it immediately.
All considered, document sharing over the cloud can be a safe and seamless process as long as you’re aware of how data breaches can occur and take the proper precautions to avoid them.
Looking for more ways to efficiently manage your financial planning firm? Learn more about 4 Things to Consider Before Making Your First Hire and How to Successfully Manage A Virtual Team.