A Bureau is a Bacs user who can submit payment instructions on behalf of their clients.
Why do companies use Bureaus?
There are several reasons why organisations may want to use a Bacs Approved Bureau (BAB) to manage their payments:
- They may only deal with a small number of Bacs transactions each month.
- They may not have the infrastructure or the time to devote a whole department to Bacs payments.
Why become a Bacs Approved Bureau?
Becoming a BAB can present some big opportunities to accountancy and payroll firms, who can essentially offer ‘Bureau as a service’ to their clients. This is a fantastic way of increasing your revenue and improving client loyalty.
Let’s say you own an accounting firm with around 200 clients, 40 of those are quite large. With a bureau, you have an opportunity to process their payroll and charge a monthly fee for doing so, say £40.
If you’re doing that for 40 clients, you’ll be making £19,200 per year, just by offering Bureau as a service. So there’s plenty of potential to increase client stickiness and add an additional revenue stream for your business.
What’s the process for Bacs Bureau accreditation?
Bacs must approve any organisation looking to become a bureau and submit Direct Debit, Direct Credit or Faster Payments transactions on behalf of a 3rd party. Once the organisation is approved, they’re known as a Bacs Approved Bureau; here’s what’s involved:
1. Apply to your sponsor bank
The first thing to do is contact your bank. They will outline the conditions of being a BAB before providing you with an initial application form. They will then issue you with a Bureau User Number (BUN).
Once you’ve got your BUN, your bank will forward your details on to the Commercial Bureau Support Group within Bacs.
2. Contact with Bacs
Every potential BAB is reviewed via a thorough inspection process. Bacs will contact you to discuss next steps and send you a questionnaire to complete, they will also require that you sign a Bacs Bureau Accreditation Agreement.
3. BAB Inspection Questionnaire
The questionnaire is designed to help the inspectors understand, at length, an organisation’s processes, the intentions of its Bacs related operations, as well as the security controls and procedures in place. The inspectors will use the information provided as initial analysis prior to an on-site visit.
4. BAB registration fee
Upon receipt of your questionnaire, Bacs will require you to pay a one-off registration fee of £4500 to cover set-up and admin costs. They will then arrange a date with you for an on-site inspection, this is often months in advance of the agreed inspection date.
5. On-site inspection
Once Bacs inspectors have reviewed your questionnaire, they will carry out an on-site inspection to check how your questionnaire responses match-up to your real-life processes. Though this can take months to arrange.
6. Wait for Bacs confirmation
You’ll then await confirmation from the Bacs Member that you can proceed with using the live Bacs facilities and service.
Upon successful completion of the inspection review, you will be issued a Bacs Approved Bureau certificate and a copy of the Final Inspection Report.
If you’re approved as a BAB, you will also be charged an annual membership fee; that figure is tiered by transactions per annum and ranges from £340 – £1500.
The set-up process doesn’t end as soon as you’re approved as a BAB, either.
You’ll still need to find the right platform to manage your Bureau services from, which is why many financial services companies operating their own Bureau use AccessPay.
What are the alternatives?
If you want to offer Bureau services to your clients, but don’t have the time or resources to devote to the lengthy application process, there are a couple of alternatives:
- By processing client payments under your SUN – one option is to process your clients’ payments via your own SUN which is linked to a client bank account. So they fund the bank account each month with their monthly payroll sum, you process the payment using Bacs approved software and the money is taken out of that account.
- Use someone else’s Bureau; like AccessPay’s. By doing it this way, you’re effectively linking your client’s SUN’s with our BUN and then just processing your Bureau payments through AccessPay. With no transaction fees and automated workflows, this is the faster, cheaper alternative. Not all Bureaus are made equal, so be mindful of hidden costs and transaction fees if you’re looking at alternative providers.
Becoming a BAB can be a great option for companies offering financial professional services. But the process is long, expensive and there are alternatives available which could effectively enable you to reap the same rewards.
With AccessPay’s Bacs Approved Bureau, you can be set up, ready to offer Bureau services to your own clients in a matter of days, not months. What’s more, there are no transaction fees, leaving you free to unlock a completely new revenue stream for your business. Simply get in touch with us to find out more about our Bacs Approved Bureau services.
This article was about: payments