Getting Confidential or Sensitive Information

I had a discussion yesterday with a few other business professionals.  They commented that I chose a couple of the hardest industries to work in; construction and cannabis.  Both are notoriously difficult to get straight answers from due to confidentiality concerns and lack of trust.

I think all clients have a right and expectation to privacy.  They want to know their information isn’t going to be shared with someone they don’t know.  But I think another fear is fear that the information will be used against them. 

When my father hired a consulting company, the first thing they did was look at his books to evaluate and target their services.  I felt they offered a worthwhile service.  My father didn’t like their suggestions, so he thought they used his books just to know what his bank balance was and drain it.  And I think a lot of others in the construction industry feel the same way.  They’re hesitant to open up about their bank information, how many credit cards they use, what their own paycheck or draw looks like for fear the price for services will somehow be tied to what the bank balance is.

I think cannabis has some of the same fears, but more importantly is having too many people know their business that the authorities can subpoena and target the business.  They also deal with people viewing the business as a ‘cash cow’ and jacking up the prices because there’s so much available cash.  Providers need to know that yes, there’s a lot of cash that can’t be deposited in the bank, but that margins are actually pretty low.  This industry has virtually no tax deductions like regular businesses, so they have a HEFTY bill to pay to the local, state & federal tax authorities.  That sucks up a lot of the cash that outsiders see just floating around.

I’m not going to blame this on being an Aquarius (although in this instance the shoe does fit), but I really don’t care what my client’s bank balance is in regard to what I charge.  My fee is based on the location and volume of work, not what the client can pay.  I logged into Xero this morning and it opened in one of my client’s files.  I didn’t notice the bank balance at all, I was confused how my Xero was balanced yesterday, and had 44 new items to reconcile this morning.  Then I saw it was the client’s file, and switched to mine.

I may share my client industries with others to give context to a problem I am seeking advice on, but I never disclose the company name, or contacts at the company.  It’s just not my business or place to share that information.

And as for banking, some of my clients have shared their passwords with me, and that’s fine.  I have a secure server those are stored on.  But I’ve started moving toward a file sharing system that will send my client a link to the system and allows them to log into their bank and credit card websites and automatically pulls the statements & information for me.  I don’t need banking access if I have that (and check images lol).  Now if only I could get the credit card processing sites to do the same with batch reports….