Macquarie Business Banking’s Head of Integrated Solutions, Brad Hamilton, says the pandemic has really highlighted the benefits of software integration. “Typically, legal firms don't have bank integrations. Instead finance teams or back-office staff spend a great deal of time reviewing and printing bank statements and then checking it line-by-line and manually keying what can be hundreds of transactions into the practice management systems.” he says. This became challenging in remote environments where transactions can’t be identified readily, with accessibility to key people and resources making the task of trust allocations and bank reconciliation even more difficult. “Having an integration means a firm can improve efficiency, staff flexibility and work from home more effectively.”
Macquarie Business Banking has invested in software integrations with several industry providers, to improve practice efficiency, experience and profit for firms.
Three challenges law firms can address with software integration
Managing client payments at scale
In a world where there are a growing number of cybersecurity threats, law firms are under greater pressure to provide a seamless and secure payment system for clients. Ensuring such processes remain secure and trouble-free is vital to improving cash flow, as well as maintaining client trust and loyalty. Additionally, it reduces risk within your firm.
With clients having greater say in how they want to conduct their legal affairs, firms should provide a range of payment options for them. Providing convenient payment options removes friction from the payment process, and can improve cashflow.
Mitigating cyber security risks
Because legal firms are managing large sums of money, from a myriad of parties, usually in critical timeframes from third parties, they are typically attractive targets for fraudsters, according to Macquarie Business Banking’s Head of Insolvency, Andrew Knowles. “A lot of the details of the partners involved in such transactions are readily available on the internet,” Knowles says. This makes firms vulnerable to cyber security hacks, fraud, loss of client monies, and loss of trust and credibility from clients as a result.
“In an environment where fraudsters will often go to great lengths to intercept funds, automation of accounts payable through software integration can mitigate the risk of files being manipulated or payments being intercepted.”
Use of integrated banking in practice management software reduces risk, and delivers peace of mind, particularly to employees and clients under pressure.
Improving productivity and reducing administration
In an increasingly competitive legal market, law firms need to be more efficient when it comes to time management. Automated processes become an increasingly attractive option. However, many firms are encumbered with maintaining legacy, which stretches to administration, and a belief that the way that things have been done is adequate. As some firms seek an advantage over the firm next door, focusing on elements completely within your control, such as repetitive tasks and efficiency metrics, can make a genuine difference to profitability, capacity, freedom to consider new ways of working, and focus on client outcomes.
For example, property law firms need to open hundreds of new accounts whenever clients buy properties. This could mean that in any given day, firms could be handling hundreds of property transactions. This requires plenty of administration – which uses up the time and resources that could be better apportioned to more value-adding work.
Macquarie Business Banking’s National Head of Legal Services, Matt Bolle, says firms quite often underestimate how much time their staff put into administrative tasks, until they closely scrutinise it. “I have clients telling me that if staff can be removed from doing automated tasks, they can do more interesting work, add more value to the firm, and make their job more future-proof.”
Bolle tells the story of Macquarie Business Banking’s partnership with a national firm that was at capacity handling transactions relating to Sydney’s property boom. “Every time someone was buying an off-the-plan apartment, there were 10% deposits, and the firm had hundreds and hundreds of accounts opened. The lawyers were thrilled that they were getting all of this work, but the administration was huge”. Macquarie Business Banking saved them from having to put on three new staff with a software integration that allowed them to handle deposit collection at scale.
How Macquarie’s software integrations boost legal business
DEFT Payment Systems
By automating detail-sensitive transactions, such as payment collections, automated trust and controlled monies account allocations and bank reconciliations, Macquarie Business Banking’s integration with DEFT Payment Systems helps firms to make those allocation decisions with greater confidence and lower risk. Back-office staff will also have more time to do more value-added tasks.
Integration with practice management software, including controlled monies
Macquarie Business Banking’s integrated capabilities creates back-office efficiencies by automating account and payment receipt and reconciliation, reducing administration time.
Integration significantly reduces the cost of chasing arrears, tracing unknown payments, and holding and manually depositing cheques. These software platforms also automate receipting and reconciliation reduces the risk of keystroke error and the likelihood of internal fraud.
Through Macquarie’s integration, handling controlled monies accounts, transactional allocations (particularly end of month interest allocations) and bank reconciliation – a process that can take days up to a week to get done for some firms – can be reduced down to the simple click of a button. Especially for firms involved in property law, looking to effectively scale up and take on new property deals, Macquarie Business Banking’s integration capability for controlled monies, can really make a difference to the firm’s capability and bottom line.
For more information, please read more about software integrations, or request a call.