5 tips for best money handing practices and SRA compliance by legal accounts software and outsourced cashiering experts

21/09/21

Have you ever fallen victim to cyber fraud, losing money in the process?

If you answered ‘yes’, you’ll know that attempting to recover these stolen funds takes time, is stressful and reimbursement is in no way guaranteed.

As a law firm, the onus is on you to ensure your legal practice doesn’t breach any of the SRA Accounts Rules, but there are easy ways to slip up.  So here are our best five tips for best money handling practices and SRA compliance to help you out, based on our recent chat with Karen Heggie, legal technical lead at Quill from our ‘MoneyChain: 5 steps to secure money transfers’ webinar.

1. Recognise a scam when you see one.

As cybercriminals devise ever-complicated ways to trick you, this task is easier said than done.

A few examples of suspicious activity could be: one of your firm’s partners emailing to ask for transfer of funds into a different bank account; your bank demanding sensitive account credentials over the phone; a supposed client or supplier requesting bank account payee details to be changed for future payments; links in emails directing you to a spoofed bank website nearly identical to its legitimate counterpart whereby you’re expected to divulge your financial data; etc.

If you receive an unusual request or if something just doesn’t feel right, trust your gut instinct and investigate further.

2. Perform anti-money laundering (AML) checks

Get into the routine of undertaking AML checks so that it becomes part of your new client take-on process.

AML checking is a way of entering personal identification information – such as date of birth, National Insurance number, driving licence number and passport number – to confirm a person is who they say they are. This gives you confidence right from the outset of a new matter that your client’s identity is correct.

Similarly, credit screening will validate the availability of funds to pay for your services for money that’s not ill-gotten.

In Quill, you can activate the AML option to have a fool-proof way of getting your house in order before any money starts exchanging hands. You’ll be prompted if any data is entered incorrectly with ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ results on AML and credit checks returned in seconds, thereafter saved to your case history for as long as needed or as dictated by data protection legislation. It’s charged on a pay-as-you-go basis monthly in arrears.

3. Replace email with echits

We’ve already touched upon the vulnerability of email which are more open to fraudulent activity by hackers and cybercriminals.

You must be alert to scams in their multiple, sophisticated forms. However, in our opinion, the best strategy is to bypass email altogether for money management purposes and use echit functionality instead.

Echits are encrypted data transfers from fee earner to cashier regarding monetary transactions. In the Quill infrastructure, echits are robust, secure and stored forever. Echits are an integrated tool within our legal accounts software used by in-house cashiers or our Pinpoint outsourced legal accounting service cashiers.

4. Validate bank accounts and sort codes

Another handy tool in your armoury should be software that checks bank account numbers with sort codes when entered into echit payment requests. By doing so, any discrepancies are ironed out quickly and early on in the payment chain.

Within Quill, we offer another add-on service or “boost” called MoneyChain for a small charge. MoneyChain checks bank accounts and sort codes against a global directory, confirming data is present and correct, as denoted by a green flag, before moving your echit into the queue for processing.*

MoneyChain ensures you get the right money to the right client at the right time, giving you greater peace of mind that your money’s protected.

5. Integrate your payment system with your bank

As a final step in strengthening money management, why not upload payment files straight from your echits system into your banking platform?

Quill’s MoneyChain allows you to export payments from your Quill accounts package for import directly into your banking system.** To save time, you can action multiple uploads as a batch simultaneously.

One caveat here: We recommend that you fully post your echits and check the status of your ledger in Quill before clicking ‘go’ for your banking application to make the payments. This is simply to ensure you have ample funds to pay.

MoneyChain is priced at £50 per month across the entire practice for clients of our Quill legal accounts software employing their own cashiers. The cost for clients of our Pinpoint outsourced legal accounting service is £2.75 per transaction by our cashiers.

Coming soon: We’re busy working on the new facility to embed pre-populated client payment request links into invoices for tighter still online payments. Multi-factor authentication is also in the pipeline to cater for this growing additional security requirement. Watch this space!

Learn about Quill’s legal accounting software (including echits), and AML and MoneyChain boosts. Contact us to subscribe.

* MoneyChain matches bank accounts and sort codes only; not names too as this information isn’t available to us.

** MoneyChain integrates with most major banks. If your bank isn’t currently supported, we can add more as long as there’s sufficient demand. There are also some banks which don’t support the import of payment files. Check that we cover your particular ‘flavour’ of bank before signing up by emailing support@quill.co.uk.

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