Online Business Banking: Making Sense of All the Services

by Elizabeth Sherman 2. June 2016

Are you still using paper checks to pay vendors? If so, you’re taking a big risk with your security.

Thieves who get hold of one of your checks can do more than just cash it and pocket the funds; they also have your account number and routing number. With that information in hand, they can easily print counterfeit checks in your name or make online purchases with your money.

If you’re not one of those people who look at your account balance every day, it could be a long time before you realize what’s happened. And your bank may or may not be able to get the money back.

Fortunately, there is a simple yet effective service called Positive Pay that can help business owners prevent such check fraud before it happens. Yet many businesses neglect using this service until it’s too late.

Here’s how Positive Pay works. Each day, you tell your bank which checks you’ve issued. As those checks are presented for payment, your bank reconciles the information you’ve entered and makes sure everything matches. If it does, the bank pays the check. If it doesn’t, an exception is created and the bank lets you know about it. You can then go online and determine whether or not you want to pay the check.

It takes just a few minutes a day and costs a fraction of what you might lose to fraud.

Positive Pay is just one way that the age of internet banking has made life easier and money safer for business owners. Yet for so many businesses, banking services exist that remain a mystery. Here’s a guide to some of the most common online business-banking options.

1. Information Reporting

The cornerstone to your online business banking, information reporting makes access to your account and its entire history from your computer and mobile devices easy. Anything related to your account is available: copies of checks, deposit tickets, what’s coming into your account tonight, any debits that are posting. 

With this (usually) free basic service, you can also manage your checks, transfer funds between your accounts, and check the status of any commercial loans you have through the bank.

2. Automated Clearing House (ACH)

This network for financial transactions makes electronically transferring funds between banks a breeze. With ACH, you can instruct the bank to pay a certain amount of money to a vendor, an insurance company, or your employees on a regular basis. You’ll be able to view these “standing orders” and then change or cancel them as needed.

Using ACH will save you time and make it easier to track funds transfers. It’s not for everyone, but most businesses who have employees, or who make a significant number of regular large payments should consider it.  

3. Bill Pay

For smaller onetime payments, look to Bill Pay services, which are usually free with basic online business banking. Using Bill Pay rather than cutting a physical check has several advantages. It’s quicker and almost fraud-proof, and you can set the day you want the bill to be paid. And don’t worry if the entity you’re paying doesn’t accept online payments. If they’re not in the network, your bank will cut them a check – you don’t need to do anything else.

4. Wire Transfer

The business world has operated at “real time” speed for some time now.  As such, you’re likely to find yourself needing to make real-time payments frequently. In these instances, Wire Transfer is your best bet. You can use it to set up a onetime payment or regular payments. And it provides the convenience of initiating transfers from your office rather than making a trip to the branch.

5. Remote Deposit

Depositing your checks at the closest branch probably sounds easy… until it isn’t. And think about this. It may take an hour to drive to a branch and then back to the office or to home. It takes 30 seconds to scan a check at your desk and another minute to deposit it remotely.

Talk It Over

The most important thing to remember when it comes to making the most of your online banking is to leverage the advice of your banker. I’ve noticed that many business owners may know the services available but may not understand them or think they are only for larger companies. While it can be said that certain services are better for some kinds of businesses more than others, the core business banking services will help businesses of any size. However, I’ve seen many businesses that pay for services they have little use for, while ignoring those they could benefit from.  The irony of making the most of your online business banking services is that it requires that occasional live conversation with a trusted advisor. For a conversation about what’s right for your business, let’s talk.

 

They've Left but Are They Gone?

by Elizabeth Sherman 25. March 2015

My friend, whom I worked with for several years, recently announced she was leaving our company for greener pastures. She really hadn’t been looking, but an opportunity presented itself and it was too good to pass up. While with our company she had access to multiple systems as part of her job. This included banking information, customer databases and back office applications.

Replacing her was difficult enough; however, the real work began after she left when we had to remove her name and access from all of those systems and applications.

An employee leaving is common. Remembering to remove them completely from everything they had access to while in your employ – not so much. In this modern era of technology and security consciousness, it is imperative that you do everything possible to protect your business information. This includes your banking information as well.

When a user with access to banking information leaves your company, remember to contact your bank and have that user’s access deleted. This will eliminate any chance of that employee logging in and seeing information they shouldn’t.

Additionally, DO NOT pass on that log in information to another employee or a new hire. Thinking this may be the easiest route will in fact increase your security risk because now two employees have access to your banking information, and one of them doesn’t even work for the company anymore.

In most business online banking platforms, there is no limit to the number of users, so don’t think that you can’t delete users, change users, or add 1,000 users if that’s what you need to do.

Always remember, you are the first line of defense regarding fraudulent activity. By logging into your bank’s website each day, you can monitor transactions and see if anything is amiss.

Finally, access to your account information is at your discretion. We are here to make it happen for you.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

The Life of the Business

It's 11:00 p.m. Do You Know where Your Money Is?

It's Fraud Season: Protect Yourself

The Life of the Business

by Elizabeth Sherman 15. May 2013

Business Insurance

A few years ago the air conditioner in my car started making very ominous groaning sounds which I was a little slow to hear on account of the fact I cannot drive without the radio blasting at ear splitting decibels. By the time the groaning turned to sickening grinding and hot air began spewing out of the vents, I knew things were beyond hope. Not having air conditioning in August was bad enough, but the thought of taking my car to the dealer and paying to replace the entire system made me break out into a real sweat. I began asking around at work to see if anyone knew of a local mechanic who would look at the situation and not charge me 3 months’ worth of mortgage payments. A coworker gave me the name of a mechanic who diagnosed the problem (I did not need to replace the whole system!!) and only fixed what was wrong. I was able to escape the whole episode for the cost of my normal monthly cable bill – quite a relief.

From that day forward, I have taken my car to the same mechanic. His shop is not conveniently located near my house or my office; as a matter of fact I have to rent a car every time I go in for service. However, Rick knows my name; knows my car; doesn’t fix what’s not broken and never goes by the standard hourly charge. I trust him and have referred many friends to him.

The economy has taken a toll on his business but his doors remain open. But every once in a while, I wonder what will happen to the business if something were to happen to him. Does he have a plan to cover the expenses of the business should he be injured (on the job or off)? What if he dies unexpectedly? Will his family have enough money to survive without his income? Is there someone to take over business?

While all of these questions should be asked, they are frequently not addressed. Whether it’s because the topic is too morbid or no one ever thinks something bad is going to happen, planning for the continuation of a business is not glamorous, but it is necessary. If you get injured on the job, how are you going to make sure the day-to-day expenses of running your business are covered? How is your company going to survive if the person who brings in the most business suddenly dies? What happens to the business if you, as the owner, suddenly die?

It's for these situations that life insurance products such as Business Overhead Insurance, Key Man Life Insurance, and Buy Sell Agreements were invented. All of these products provide protection for the business itself and the family members left behind should something happen to the heart and soul of the business – YOU!

Waiting until something happens is too late. Take a look at your business now and see what plan you have in place for the future.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

One Size Fits for Life: Is Your Business in the Right Checking Account?

I do, I do, I do...Believe in My Business

How to Successfully Navigate the Networking World

 



© 2008- 1st Mariner Bank