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Cost Reduction Guide Issue 2 Banking And Finance

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Cost Reduction Guide Issue 2 Banking And Finance

  1. 1. Is your business costing you?find extra profit A guide to reducing non-core operating costs in the economic downturn Issue 2: Banking and Finance Expense Reduction Analysts
  2. 2. Introduction Banking is never far from the front pages of the media at the moment and we are constantly being buffeted with new phenomena and phrases, from ‘credit crunch’ to ‘short selling’ and ‘quantitative easing’. But whilst we have to leave world leaders It includes tips and advice on the to try and guide us through the peaks and following areas: troughs of the global storm, there is much that individual businesses can do to give • Plastic card transactions – the major their financial systems and banking story of the modern financial world, arrangements a health check and ensure but is your business set up to manage they are in the best possible position to them to best effect weather the downturn. • Day-to-day service charges – are you This guide aims to provide a range of getting the best deal for the service practical advice and examples from experts your bank delivers in the field to help ensure your business is managing its finances effectively and • Finance processes – don’t let the way efficiently. you organise your business literally cost you money02 Introduction
  3. 3. Plastic card transactionsThe growth of plastic card transactions is huge in our modern"connected" world and the resulting overhead is now significantfor many businesses. Paul Davidson has facilitated large savingsfor many household name clients and here he highlights somesimple steps which may help your business save costs.1 Security, security, security 2 Check your statementsThere is a clear move in the industry In recent months there has been evidencetowards dual pricing whereby the retailer of some merchant acquirers increasing is effectively charged a penalty for all their fees through means that are easytransactions that fail to meet core security to challenge if identified, including:requirements. These penalties are typicallyas much as 0.5 per cent of the value of • Not refunding the percentage leviedcredit and commercial card transactions, on credit card transactions when a saleand 10p for each debit card transaction – is reversedand every penny is avoidable. • Charging commercial debit cards as aThe day is not far off when transactions percentage of sales value rather thanthat do not follow available security a flat transaction rateprocesses will simply be declined, sotry to ensure the following: Check statements regularly to make sure you’re not falling victim to this.• Protect face-to-face transactions with chip and pin 3 Take advantage of exchange rates If you regularly serve holders of foreign• Capture and use the required security cards, talk to your merchant acquirer about information for all ‘card not present’ Dynamic Currency Conversion. It can halve transactions (mail order, telephony or web) the effective cost to your business of credit card transactions. If the provider cannot• Utilise Mastercard Secure Code or Verified access this function for you, consider by Visa protocols for web transactions switching to one who can. Plastic card transactions 03
  4. 4. Service charges Historically, many discussions between banks and their clients are related to the need for credit and the subsequent interest rates, meaning day-to-day activity-related costs are then ignored or treated as an after-thought. Companies need to be questioning whether there are better ways of undertaking some activities, says Steve Whitlam. 1 Identify the large cost areas… tariffs are a negotiation start point as larger Under the banking industry’s code of businesses are more commonly charged on practice, all monthly or quarterly service a discretionary, bespoke basis. charges should be pre-advised before posting to accounts. Itemised calculations 4 Negotiate with your bank are generally sent out with bank statements Pre-warn your relationship manager that so examine these to identify the high- you want to discuss specific costs, based on volume, high-cost items. your analysis, but also make clear that you would like the bank’s advice on relevant 2 …but don’t forget other charges services that may change the way you Some items are charged as they are used. carry out some transactions. Typical examples include commissions for foreign payments, Letter of Credit issues or even indemnities. A simple example of reducing costs may be migrating payments 3 Compare unit prices with other away from cheques and towards businesses electronic alternatives like BACS. Whether this is through talking to your At a more complex level it may be network contacts or by obtaining tariffs the introduction of cost effective published by your own or other banks, online Treasury Management the aim here is to benchmark your costs tools that bring efficiencies in against what others enjoy. The former multi-currency, multi-national can be a better guide since published environments.04 Service charges
  5. 5. A client in Middlesex was happy for us to tender their bankingwhere costs totalled £282k a year. Working on some modestprocess changes, with a bank that we knew had a competitiveadvantage matching their specific needs, Expense ReductionAnalysts implemented a change that saves them £223k pa.5 Shop around asked to concede as much as 0.75%This doesn’t necessarily mean tendering your back to the bank.full banking service out to the other High Streetproviders, but simply considering whether Whilst recognising that capital is tight for thecertain aspects - such as cash processing, banks and not wanting to negotiate awayforeign payments outward and certain types borrowing lines, declining the full increaseof indemnities - could be handled by others. requested should nonetheless be a given for companies and there are three key pieces of6 Keep out of the “Good Customer” advice to consider when negotiating:blind spotA bank manager’s first priority is to control i If the reason given is “current” base rates,risk and this means that the clients who then obtain in writing a commitment to thedo not borrow, or who never breach their level of base rate that will see, all other thingsfacilities/covenants, often remain tucked being equal, a return to lower margins.away on the back burner where theirservice or pricing levels are not regularly ii Seek a reduction in, or even waiver of,reviewed. The majority of bank managers any arrangement fee. If the reason for thewill respond favourably to having pricing discussion is primarily the increased marginissues raised, rather than lose business the bank wants – rather than renewal –by default. what justifies such a fee?What about borrowing costs? iii Use the opportunity to tackle serviceBusiness has been used to many years charges, having prepared yourself based onof increasingly generous facilities at the points above. Bank managers who areincreasingly fine margins. Now, though, prepared to lose a “good” client for pricingit is not uncommon to hear of excellent reasons are few and far between.businesses, with long track records, being Service charges 05
  6. 6. Finance processes Expense Reduction Analysts has helped many clients reduce bank charges simply through changing the way some business processes are carried out. Stephen Whitlam shares some common ones here. 1 Factor in some savings Introducing company credit cards for Invoice Finance is an established source staff brings a number of tangible of working capital, particularly for benefits, including a reduction in the manufacturers. However the impact of number of cheques issued, cash flow service charges can often be forgotten benefit of up to 45 days and a clearer and – for an established facility – can means of monitoring expenses. have grown out of all proportion to the workload they ostensibly cover. It is still a competitive market and it’s not unusual 3 Become active not passive to undertake negotiations that result in If you receive many payments by Standing savings in excess of 40%. Order, not only is reconciliation a difficult task as your staff have to cross reference 2 Get smart! each receipt to establish any exceptions, Many businesses spend a lot of time settling but you will also be charged for each credit small invoices relating to the purchase of received by your bank. petty cash items and/or expenses claims when they would benefit tangibly from Direct Debits on the other hand see providing key staff with company credit exceptions automatically notified as part of cards. It’s not widely known that, if correctly the process. Not only that, the bank charge set up, business card statements can take the per direct debit is normally a fraction of the form of a single VAT invoice, combining the charge for each credit received as a result many individual documents that employees of a standing order. Many thousands of might otherwise submit. Such cards typically direct debits can be run per file submitted attract an annual fee of £15-£25 each and are and expect volume discounts as your easily arranged through clients’ own banks. business grows.06 Finance processes
  7. 7. One client with £650m turnover in three currencies had a memberof staff who spent half a day every day working out liquidity. Thiswas done in order to draw down to/from money market deposits tomaximise interest earnings. Expensive mistakes were often made.Expense Reduction Analysts arranged an automated daily sweepfor the sterling balances, and for interest to be earned on currencybalances, that not only freed up a significant amount of time, butensured a measurable cost benefit on the banking side as well.Expense Reduction Analysts is the world’s Expense Reduction Analysts has 150largest cost management consultancy and consultants across the UK, specialisingfocuses on reducing non-core operating in more than 100 non-core businesscosts for private, not-for-profit and public expenditure categories.sector organisations.Handling an annual supplier spend of Other topics covered in our seriesmillions of pounds on behalf of clients of cost reduction guides include:in all sectors, the consultants at ExpenseReduction Analysts use their significant Issue 1 – Property and Premisespurchasing influence to achieve optimum Issue 3 – Back Office Functionsvalue from suppliers, often successfullyretaining incumbents and using expert For more information contactanalysis and market intelligence to Expense Reduction Analystscombat ‘contract fatigue’. on: 02380 892 737 or visit our website at: www.erauk.net 07
  8. 8. find extra profitArgentina Australia Austria Belgium Brazil Canada Chile Columbia Ecuador FranceGermany Greece Hungary Jordan Italy Lebanon Luxembourg Mexico Morocco NetherlandsNew Zealand Panama Portugal Spain Taiwan United Kingdom United States Uruguay Expense Reduction Analysts www.erauk.net

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