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Jennings Group utilizes latest technology to meet clients' needs

November 21st, 2011 9:51 am by Staff Report

Jennings Group utilizes latest technology to meet clients' needs

After taking a "16-year" maternity leave from college, Christe Jennings earned her degree in accounting last year and has now opened her own business.

Christe Jennings has combined her love of technology and accounting into a new business that provides clients with real-time access to all their personal bookkeeping and tax information.


After taking a "16-year" maternity leave from college, Jennings earned her degree in accounting from East Tennessee State University last year. She completed three years of classes in 22 months, going straight through and often driving back and forth from four different college campuses to take the classes she needed to finish her degree.


Once she obtained her degree, Jennings felt she "could conquer the world" and decided to open her own business at 1567 N. Eastman Rd., Suite 1, Kingsport.


"I wanted to provide a good accounting firm that could help clients, believe in them and stand behind them," Jennings said.


She also knew the area needed a firm that offered real-time access to a client’s bookkeeping and tax information. To accomplish this, Jennings uses "cloud computing," in which all of her company’s information is stored in a secure, off-site location that clients access via a portal on her company’s website, http://www.jenningsgroupea.com/.


To ensure access to a client’s information, Jennings scans all of the pertinent information and loads the documents into the client’s file on her company’s website. Using cloud-computing, information is securely stored off-site to protect loss of information from computer crashes and natural disasters. The site uses the same SSL-encryption as banks and other financial institutions.


Clients check into Jennings Group on an iPad touchscreen that alerts Jennings and her associates to a client visit. When the client returns to Jennings Group the next year, she will have immediate access to all of the client’s previous information plus any prior discussions.


"This technology saves time and enables us to move forward more efficiently with our client’s needs," she explained. Both Jennings and her clients can access client information 24/7 from anywhere there is an Internet connection. "For example, when you apply for a loan at a bank, credit union or for college admissions, they all require earnings documentation. My client can use the institution’s computer to pull up their individual W-2 forms or access their actual tax return."


Jennings is a certified Enrolled Agent (EA) with the IRS which allows her to practice in front of the IRS. To receive this designation, she had to pass a series of specialized tests, as well as complete required hours of continuing professional education annually. There are a limited number of about 46,000 accountants in the U.S. to have earned this title. In addition, Carl Knox, one of her team members, has over 35 years of accounting experience.


The firm specializes in taxes and prepares tax returns for individuals, Partnerships, Limited Liability Corporations, Corporations and state returns. In addition, Jennings Group offers accounting services for individuals or small businesses.


"Our goal is to help small businesses maximize their business by relieving some of the stress associated with maintaining books, doing payroll and all accounting-related chores," she said.


The company works with owners of rental property as well. Jennings Group has a secure, drop box where renters can leave their payments. The company will, in turn, record and deposit the payments for the landlord and track all of their expenses associated with the rental properties.


Jennings Group also offers Visa Prepaid Cards for clients in certain categories. "Even though we keep our rates reasonable and affordable, there are some people who cannot pay upfront to have their taxes prepared," she explained. "We are one of the few tax preparation companies in the area approved to have a client’s tax preparation fee deducted from their IRS refund. For a small fee, the remainder of the refund is placed on the debit card that the client can use anywhere that takes Visa, even online."


Jennings is excited about her new endeavor. "I’m totally enthralled with what I do. I love it. I’m so excited to open up a company on the leading edge of technology. Even the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms are just now going to cloud computing."


And her enthusiasm is evident when you meet her. "I’m here to prove you don’t have to be a nerd to like taxes."


Jennings is more than willing to share her enthusiasm with free seminars geared to specific groups. She has an interactive PowerPoint presentation that even non-accountants can understand and enjoy. In addition, she provides up-to-date information about changes in IRS rules.


All tax and accounting services are provided at a reasonable cost. Jennings Group is open year-round with off-season hours, from May through December, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. During tax season, the hours will be extended to accommodate their clients. To schedule an appointment or for more information, call 423-408-2106 or visit their website at: http://www.jenningsgroupea.com/.

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