Wolters Kluwer, Tax & Accounting UK has announced survey findings which show that accountancy firms need additional education and support around the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into force on 25th May 2018.
The regulation intends to strengthen data protection for all individuals within the European Union and, when it comes into force, will replace the data protection directive of 1995.
Wolters Kluwer surveyed over 100 individuals from UK accountancy practices to establish levels of understanding and to explore the practical steps that are being put in place to prepare for the GDPR.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, 87 per cent of respondents stated that they understand the basic principles of existing data protection legislation and that they can understand what constitutes personal data.
When probed as to the extent of their knowledge about the GDPR specifically, a worrying 64 per cent of survey respondents commented that they have only conducted basic research and appreciate the most rudimentary changes that the GDPR will bring. An additional 22 per cent know what GDPR stands for but have little broader understanding of the impact and potential consequences of the regulation. This leaves just 14 per cent who would classify themselves as knowledgeable about the GDPR.
When asked to detail who is responsible for data protection compliance, it was encouraging to see that respondents overwhelmingly stated that it should be an undertaking for all employees (86 per cent). This resonates with the guidance issued by the Information Commission which counsels that organisations must have documented policies in place, employees who are trained on those policies and a mechanism for enforcement.
However, some of those surveyed took a different line with 11 per cent saying that it is purely the responsibility of senior management and just 1 per cent indicating that, within their organisation, they are solely accountable.
Respondents cited a range of concerns regarding the GDPR (in no particular order of priority). These included the burden of compliance, resourcing, and of course the risk of and fines associated with a breach.
Paul Brace, Head of Partnerships & Acquisitions at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK said,
“As accountancy practices gear up for the ramifications of GDPR, there is an opportunity for them to enhance the way they organise and process their data. With that in mind, Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK is providing various resources to our customers including seminars, checklists, infographics and webinars. In addition, we are planning to create a GDPR e-learning series which will provide the training and guidance to ensure they put the appropriate steps in place to ensure GDPR compliance.”