Cloud Document Retrieval and Storage

Jun 17th 2016
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I have been using FileThisPro, ReceiptBank and Hubdoc since last year, and wanted to share some thoughts and observations about these online tools. This month, we will start with FileThis. For those of you haven’t heard about it, here is how FileThis describes themselves on their own website:

“FileThis Pro is a fully automated document collection service that gathers your client’s online statements, invoices, receipts, bills, and tax documents from their online accounts and stores them in one central location for secure access. FileThis automates time consuming parts of your daily job!”

This description is not an idle boast. Here’s how it works.
1. If you are a bookkeeper or accounting firm, you set up your own Admin account first in FileThisPro.com.

2. Logged in to your firm’s Admin account, you go to the “Clients” tab and enter an email address to invite a client.

3. The client receives the email and clicks the link to respond, which prompts them to create their own User ID and Password. 

4. The client then logs in to FileThis.com and clicks on the “Connections” tab. This tab lists many mainstream national U.S. banking institutions (such as Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, etc.) and vendors (such as ADP, ADT, Amazon, Netflix, PG&E, etc. ). The list is extensive, but if you’re seeking a particular bank or vendor, you may want to check with FileThis first to see if it’s on their list. They are happy to work with you to add a missing institution, and are frequently growing the list.

5. The client enters their banking or vendor User ID and Password, and answers to any security questions, for the selected Connection. This is key: you never have to ask your clients to give you their credentials.

6. FileThis starts fetching documents. I have seen it fetch up to two years worth of bank statements. It creates a folder for each Connection and stores the documents there. 

Why is this cool or useful? Now you have single login to obtain the majority of the financial docs you need from your client, without waiting for them to send docs to you, AND without nagging your clients to send them, AND without asking for your client’s login credentials! As the Admin, you login to a single console, select the appropriate client, and view their fetched docs. 

You have more questions, right? Read on.

What is the difference between FileThis and FileThisPro?
FileThisPro.com is what a firm uses to set up multiple client accounts in the Admin console. You can then bill your clients for the cost, or not. FileThis.com is what the client uses to setup their account (after you invite them), and where they go to access their own documents. 

How secure is it?
FileThis has Bank-Level Security, 256-bit SSL Encryption. To me, it is as secure as the online banking services provided by my financial institutions. Protect yourself by creating a secure password with upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols, and suggest your clients do the same.

Where are my documents stored?
The default document storage location is on the FileThis platform, called FileThisCloud. The Starter Plan allows up to 10GB of storage per client. You also have the option for FileThis to send your documents to a third-party storage provider of your choice. Currently, FileThis supports: Box, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, and SmartVault. 

What if my client only wants me to see some of their docs? 
FileThis has you covered. Let’s say your client uses one financial institution for both their business and personal banking, but they only want you to have access to their business docs. No problem. FileThis will fetch all that institution’s docs, then the client can easily “Unshare” the personal accounts, meaning they won’t be visible to you in your Admin console.

Can I get my docs off of FileThisCloud?
Yes, you can download an individual document, or an entire folder. I have not yet found a way to download all folders with one click, although that feature may exist.

What if I cancel my FileThis subscription, or the client cancels theirs?
You can download all the document folders to a local drive before you cancel your subscription.

How much does it cost?
The Starter Plan costs $49 per month for one Admin; the Small Plan is $99 per month for 2 Admins. You save more if you pay for your plan annually. See more plans here

Do clients really use it?
My answer to this is Yes, and No. Clients seem excited about it and are helpful in the initial setup, with some prompting from you. Then I find clients forget about it, and that’s kinda okay. They feel like they don’t need to look at their statements and bills, because you are looking at them. Getting clients to look at their monthly bank statements is a whole different discussion! 

One downside is if a Connection has a glitch, the fetching ceases. FileThis notifies the client via email of problems, but I find I usually have to intervene and ask the client to login to their FileThis and “Fix It” when there are connection issues in need of resolution. 

Do you really use it?
Yes, I surely do! And I have FileThis fetch not only my business documents, but my personal documents as well. Yes, I invited myself (using my personal email, instead of my business email). The Starter Plan allows you to invite up to 50 clients, with 30 connections each, and the price doesn’t change if you invite 5 clients or 35 clients. So use it! You can decide if you pass through the cost to your clients, or roll the cost into your fees. Charging your clients for the FileThis subscription can even be cash-flow positive. Say you charge your client $5.00 a month for FileThis; if you have 10 clients using it, you’ve covered your cost. 

Things I Love About in FileThis

  • For my personal docs on FileThis.com, it automatically fetches documents, stores them in the cloud, and sends me an email that a doc has been fetched.
  • For my personal docs on FileThis.com, it sends me an email if there is a Connection problem.
  • For FileThisPro, I can access client docs whenever I want, and don’t have to hound my clients to send me docs.
  • For FileThisPro, I can brand my Admin account by uploading my logo, which my clients will see in the upper left corner after they login to their FileThis account.
  • The FileThisPro Admin console is easy to use and docs are easy to select and view. You can view them right on the screen (useful for performing a bank rec) and don’t need to download the doc unless you want or need to. In fact, I recommend not downloading documents – I don’t want my clients docs randomly stored or saved on various computers in a Downloads or other folder. For optimal security, keep documents in the Cloud, without local duplicates.

Things I’m Not Crazy About in FileThis

  • There is no Search box on the website, no FAQs, help videos or Support link. 
  • The “Contact Us” link opens an email in your own email program, so you can ask whatever question you want; it does not create a support ticket visible to the user. I’ve experienced same day replies, and up to two days before receiving a reply. 
  • The login credential boxes are not right on the homepage, you have to make another click to display the boxes. I know, it’s just one more click, but it bugs me. 
  • For the Admin user on FileThisPro.com, once you click on a Client, it lists all their folders, but in a seemingly random order. I can click on the word “Account” and it will sort all the folders alphabetically, but there is no way to save this preference. So after I view a doc and return to the Account view, I have to re-sort alphabetically once again.
  • It randomly duplicates a folder for some accounts, and I don’t know why. I’m guessing it has something to do with the banking connection, but as an example: at one financial institution I have two checking accounts, one savings account and two credit cards, so I would expect to see five folders for that bank. Instead, I have over 11 folders, and I can’t rename or merge the folders. 
  • I find the FileThis interface (the view from the client’s login) is more difficult to use than the FileThisPro interface. I often have problems searching for documents, or getting them to display on the screen. I admit I don’t use the Tags feature, which might help. For me, the FileThisPro interface is easier and more streamlined, but that may not be the case for everyone. 

Now you should have a better understanding of FileThis and FileThisPro and why you might want to incorporate its use into your practice. If you have tried it, please share your thoughts in the Comments box. Tune in next month for thoughts on ReceiptBank.

Jody Linick is an AIPB Certified Bookkeeper and a QuickBooks® Certified Pro Advisor.  Her company, Linick Consulting, specializes in remote bookkeeping services using hosted QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online. She runs a (mostly) paperless office, and helps other businesses to do the same. 

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