As Australian law firms have transitioned to operate in a different environment, there are opportunities to improve cashflow, reduce errors, and increase efficiency, as well as mitigate some cybersecurity risks. Streamlining banking and administrative processes can also result in better client and employee experiences, as well as increased profitability.

With a reputation as a leader in industry expertise, Macquarie Business Banking’s investment in integration with industry software providers can reduce administration burden and error, and allow lawyers to focus on activities that drive better client outcomes.

Law firms in Australia face a number of challenges. Among them include the need to improve business efficiency in an increasingly competitive market, tackle more intelligent and persistent cybersecurity threats, improve the experience of being an employee and client, and facilitate the administration of client payments at a greater scale. The reasons for this are to optimise processes and efficiency, allowing greater time to invest in activities that add genuine value to clients and business.

Enter the world of software integration. This is where various types of software, including Macquarie’s online banking and transactions capability, are integrated with firm practice management software, to optimise back office and finance team workflows. For a firm, days and weeks of time and effort can be saved that can be instead used to pursue more value-added activities. In addition, as Australia deals with lockdowns and looks to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, digital integration of service delivery has never been more key.

Macquarie’s banking software integrates with most legal practice management software, to help improve efficiency, reduce errors, assist with cashflow measures, and mitigate cybersecurity risks.

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.”

An example

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.

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Unless stated otherwise, this material has been prepared by Macquarie Bank Limited ABN 46 008 583 542 AFSL & Australian Credit Licence 237502 ("Macquarie") for general discussion purposes only, without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this general information, you must consider its appropriateness having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. The information provided is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for any accounting, tax or other professional advice, consultation or service.