Mobile electronic signatures for audit reports
Business law firm PKF WMS has begun to replace handwritten signatures with end-to-end digital signature workflows. The selected cloud-based solution from d.velop and D-Trust also allows documents to be signed remotely – for instance, using a laptop and tablet, while ensuring a high degree of legal validity.
Experts in auditing
For more than 90 years, the PKF WMS Group has been serving family-run businesses, companies and freelance professionals with statutory and voluntary audits, be it in the form of annual financial statements, consolidated financial statements or company valuations.
Much valuable time was lost with handwritten signatures
Every audit conducted by a PKF WMS expert is only completed when the audit report is signed. Before this can take place, the documents must be carefully audited. In the past, it frequently happened that the audit report lay waiting to be signed in the office, but the auditor was already on site with the next client. “Staff sometimes had to come by the office just to sign the report, and this cost so much valuable time. We wanted to get away from paper in order to make our work more efficient, ecological and flexible,“ says department head Michael Strack, describing the initial situation.
Remote signature with a high degree of legal certainty
PKF WMS opted for the d.velop sign cloud solution with the integrated sign-me remote signature from D-Trust, a Bundesdruckerei Group company. The partnership has been in place since 2020. The electronic signature feature can now be accessed via the standard browser and also using mobile devices. Qualified electronic signatures can be generated with the cloud-based signature workflow solution. In terms of their legal validity, these signatures are equivalent to handwritten signatures throughout Europe. In order to create a qualified electronic signature, the auditors first require a qualified signature certificate, which they receive after registration and identification with the sign-me remote signature service. This can be carried out conveniently and directly using d.velop sign.
Several methods can be used to establish identity, such as video identification, the online ID function of the German ID card or identification on the basis of an existing German online bank account.
More efficient, more flexible and at a lower cost
Shortly after the solution was introduced, employees noticed the advantages of the electronic signature:
- Improved efficiency: Mobile electronic signatures save time; clients and customers receive their reports and documents much faster. What’s more, digital records can be accessed much faster than documents stored in filing cabinets.
- Greater flexibility: Employees can now sign audit reports and certificates electronically and in a legally secure manner from any location. This boosts productivity and creates more freedom.
- Lower costs: PKF WMS saves printing, paper and postage costs. At the same time, digital documents improve the environmental balance.
With this joint d.velop sign and sign-me solution, PKF WMS has simplified and shortened the entire contract conclusion process. Instead of waiting several days for the auditor’s final signature, this can now be carried out in a matter of minutes, even if the signatory has to be identified first. The combined solution is also convincing in terms of security. The identification procedures comply with the requirements of the European eIDAS Regulation and the German Trusted Services Act, they have been certified by TÜV and, when it comes to trustworthiness and security, they are regulated by the Federal Network Agency.
PKF WMS continues to roll out the signature solution
More and more employees are using the signature solution for their daily work. The audit department was followed by the financial reporting department. “Because our experience has been good,” Michael Strack points out, “and because we want to deliver more audit reports or reports on the preparation of annual financial statements to clients in electronic form.“
Positive feedback from clients
PKF WMS now delivers up to 100 reports in electronic form each month. And the response by clients? “They see this as a positive feature,” says Strack, “because it means that they too can pass the digital documents on to others, for instance, to banks. Clients are happy to have these electronically signed reports, which saves them filing and paper costs.”
The PKF WMS Group has a long tradition in auditing as well as tax and legal consulting. For 90 years, the firm has been serving family-run businesses, companies and freelancers. Today, with over 300 employees, the PKF WMS Group is one of the most important law firms in the district of the Osnabrück-Emsland Chamber of Industry and Commerce.