Online banking tools that you should be using to run your business more efficiently Featured

2:13pm EDT June 7, 2011
Online banking tools that you should be using to run your business more efficiently

The continuing advances in technology have made visiting the bank on the corner obsolete.

Online banking with your financial institution has been available to business customers for the past few years and enhancements are continuous. Financial institutions have invested heavily in technology to provide safe and reliable access to your account information. Not only are banks required to annually engage outside consultants to audit their online policies and procedures, online banking activities are also part of a bank’s regulatory safety and soundness exam.

Business online banking offers the flexibility of customizing security for staff members, allowing  different employees access to your accounts, based on the parameters you set. Someone may be limited to viewing account activity, while others could have access to bill payment and wire transfers or transfers between accounts. Most systems offer a dual control on wire transfers, requiring one person to initiate the transfer and another to approve the transaction. Online banking is accessed with a personal user name, password and enhanced security.

“One of the primary advantages of online banking with your institution is convenience,” says Michael Gorman, Brecksville Regional President, Western Reserve Bank.

Smart Business spoke to Gorman about some of those banking products that can improve your company’s efficiency, resulting in cost savings.

Information

Online banking allows you access to your accounts from anywhere at any time. This allows your business to improve productivity, giving you quick access to balances, and allowing you to track checks that have cleared your account, make wire transfers and pay bills. You bank should have the ability to provide real-time balances throughout the day and allow you to see transactions before they hit your account. Most banks offer the online capability to see previous months’ transactions. Online banking also allows transfers between different deposit accounts and loan payments from deposit accounts.

Deposits and transfers

Your business no longer needs to be down the street from your financial institution. Banks now offer remote deposit capture. The remote capture device is approximately the size of a football. Attached to you computers, checks to be deposited to your account are scanned in and reviewed, and the image is electronically sent to your bank for credit to your account. The option gives you the ability to deposit checks any time of the day, into any number of accounts. Once scanned, the checks should be saved for 90 days or so and then destroyed. The real benefit is same-day credit of funds, subject to availability, and alleviating a trip to the bank or the mailbox.

Bill pay, ACH transactions, wire transfers and stop payments

Bill pay allows your business to pay bills online. Once the payees are established, it takes very little time to save time processing subsequent payments.

ACH transactions allow you to initiate ACH payrolls and vendor payments.

Wire transfers and stop payments can be electronically initiated, which lets businesses avoid having to contact the bank in person or on the phone, and typically reduces the cost of the transaction.

Electronic payments are safer, less expensive and faster than mailing checks and can easily be controlled. Encouraging your customers to make electronic deposits to your account also saves administrative time and results in immediate availability of deposited funds.

Cash management software

If you are not managing your business with cash management software (QuickBooks, Quicken, Microsoft Money, etc.), you should. Any bank extending credit to a business will require financial information on a regular basi,s and cash management software is the preferred source. The financial institution should be able to support exporting transactions either directly through Web connect or direct connect to your computer so that you can import the file into your software.

Finally it is important to have support with your on line banking product. Does your bank have someone you can contact, or do you only have the option of online support?

These products will help your business manage funds more efficiently whenever and wherever you are.

Michael Gorman is Brecksville Regional President, Western Reserve Bank. Reach him at (440) 746-9998 or mgorman@westernreservebank.com.