Paperless statements are great ... BUT only if you download them on a regular basis. It's getting more difficult to have your paperless statements automatically fetched from a document manager such as Hubdoc.
Sometimes when I'm doing backwork for a client, I request some paperwork that is missing. The client signs into their online account to obtain the data I need only to find the eStatement or eBill for two or three years back is no longer available. This could have been avoided if only they had made an effort to download the paperless statements on a periodic basis.
Mr. Paperless wrote a great blog about whether it is okay to leave your bank or vendor statements on the third party website. I found myself nodding my head in agreement as I read through the blog post.
As Mr. Duncan points out, "you are responsible for your own data. Even if you entrust it to a third party, you are still responsible for your own data. You would be well served to take that responsibility seriously."
Each company and financial institution has their own online data retention policies. While often times the statements are available for as long as you have an open account, other times that is just not the case.
A recent example I experienced was when I closed a bank account recently. I had other active accounts with the institution so I didn't think too much about my eStatement(s) for that account. When I went to do my downloads ... okay I'll admit I was a few months behind on this task for that particular account ... access to the eStatements was gone!
I had to phone the bank (which I did immediately while they still had easy access to the data) and request a printed copy of the transactions since my last download. Lesson learned the hard way.
For me this is the big drawback of online banking. If you leave the institution, you lose access to your data.
If you are not using an app like Hubdoc to fetch your statements, please make your life easier and modify your "to do" task list by adding the following ...
During an audit, you will be grateful
you took the time to perform this task. The preferred filing format is
PDF. The task should be done monthly but really quarterly works too!
Since I first wrote this article, your options have changed. There are a lot of apps out there that will help you collect your documents and store them in the cloud ... reducing your pain point significantly.
LedgerDocs is great if you like to "keep it simple". Bookkeepers raved about Hubdoc's ability to fetch statements. However due to changing technology and industry standards, connections are now often blocked by banks and online supplies. Hubdoc has made the difficult decision discontinuing fetching on April 27, 2022 due to the changing protocols. They will work on obtaining direct connections with banks ... so keep your eye out for that. Other fetching apps will likely be following suit or switching to direct bank connections like Hubdoc and QBO have.
There are a lot of options out there now. You owe it to yourself to research them and pick one that suits you.