I would like to know how accountants are onboarding their new clients during the pandemic with no face-to-face interaction.
Many accountants are using cloud software (quickbooks online) and a secure portal where documents can be securely transmitted and stored. In addition, using apps like docusign and eversign to have engagement letters signed.
Are you asking for photo ID’s?
What other measures are you taking through these times?
I always insist on a face-to-face meeting with any new clients (while observing businesses Covid-19 regulations for my area in Ontario) where they will have to produce government issued photo ID. This includes a deceased client’s estate’s executor/trix even if they verbally identify themselves as the deceased’s child/relative etc… (along with the rest of related documents).
The exception would be potential clients that I’ve already met and know. I would accept a .jpg/pdf image in those cases.
For the latter, I always create a guest-user account with e-courier. This will enable them to send me requested documents securely.
For documents’ e-signature I use Adobe sign.
Generally still meet clients face to face at least once. But, there were a few T1 clients last spring that I just talked to on the phone, as well as contacted via email or text message. I’m fairly sure that no-one was asking me to do a return for someone who didn’t exist, or that they were trying to steal someone else’s identity. Of course, I need to obtain all the usual details - name, address, phone number, SIN, dependant names, etc. But, signed forms were usually emailed or dropped off in my mailbox (paper copy).
I deal with most of my clients by phone and email and always have as they are mostly international and most don’t live close enough to come see me. They also tend to be fairly complicated Canadian and US returns done for professionals so I tend to trust that they are who they say they are. I don’t ask for things like driver’s licenses. I do ask for a complete copy of their prior year returns however and back up for all figures - scanned usually - actual receipts for things the CRA is likely to ask for such as donations and medical - rather than just figures to type in as totals. I get CRA authorization for all of them through represent a client. Signed forms are sent through my dropbox portal or by email. I will be switching to Verifyle for this year instead of dropbox and am just getting ready to introduce everybody to it for the up coming tax season. I have never had a problem with fraudulent taxpayers in 20+ years of doing business. I only have about 100 tax clients however as I am a sole proprietor with a part time practice and most of them are very long term clients so I know a fair bit about them.
My lawyers will not let me do anything without my clients signing in front of me. For my protection.
Tax preparers might consider, as a bare minimum, carrying out all steps necessary to COMPLY WITH CRA’S REQUIREMENTS.
“Special attention must be made to review your responsibilities as an electronic filer, which include verifying your clients’ identity”
We have to verify our clients identity to be allowed to file, but there are many ways to do that.
My clients all come from referrals, so I can check in with my existing client or friend that referred the new client. Contact with the prior accountant can be useful too.
I always check addresses with CRA online, and compare prior year filings to CRA records (these are the same verifications that CRA uses to verify they are talking to the right person, after all)
DocuSign also has a ‘verified user’ service, we we haven’t resorted to that yet.
I’m using Zoom to do the initial meeting (which gives me the visual), at which they show me their driver’s license and then send me a PDF picture of same for my files.
DocuSign for signatures as approved by CRA in this most unusual year.
@pugs1 - your lawyer is promoting overkill at the risk of your health. Follow CRA guidelines and you’re good to go.
Sorry for the past 35 + years of being an accountant i will follow my lawyers’ advice. You can do what you want when i am dealing with 4500 clients i do not need one new client to close my business. thanks anyway. Also my health is great !