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The #1 way social housing providers can future-proof their finance function

Liquidity management is one of the biggest challenges faced by registered providers of social housing today.

Finance teams are forced to walk the tight-rope between providing a high-level service for tenants in supported accommodation (which requires lots of resource) while ensuring there’s enough cash in the bank at the end of each day.

Believe it or not, a core part of this comes down to the way you manage your payments and collections process.

Bacs say that over half (58%) of tenants are still paying rent by methods other than Direct Debit, which can make rent collections difficult; requiring a lot of resource and a lot of disparate technologies to work.

But more and more Housing Associations are turning to automation to help solve that problem.

Automating payments and collections takes the pressure off of staff by unlocking huge time savings for Housing Associations making rent collections, supplier payments, payroll….the lot.

But the biggest advantage lies in the potential cost savings that those changes can make, which comes down to:

  • Less technology automation gets rid of banking portals and other disparate systems
  • Fewer overheads as a result of the above, manual file upload and transformation processes become automated.
  • Lower processing fees providing you choose the right solution vendor (some will charge transaction fees, whereas others won’t – like us)

Every penny saved with automation is more cash in the bank for social housing providers at the end of each day.

Implementing the right software to help you achieve that can be highly rewarding in making more cash available, whilst significantly lightening the workload for your staff.

How could a Payments Automation solution help you in your role?

Accounts Payable

Automate supplier payments by integrating a payments automation platform like AccessPay with your back-office systems. This will automatically pull through your payment files and automatically transform them to ensure payments are bank-ready.

So all you need to worry about is checking and approving your transactions. Approvals are secured by rigorous workflow and approvals process is in place which you can control exactly who does what and when in your team.

Payroll

Integrate payroll software like Northgate and Cascade with a payments automation platform to cut out file upload and transformation processes from your workload.

Custom approvals processes can also ensure the process can be determined for payroll to include 4 eyes approval assigned to payroll or treasury staff of your choice.

If security AND privacy within your organisation are equally important, we can hide sensitive payroll information with our advanced data masking tool, which acts as a second line of defence against internal fraud and data breaches.

Collections / Accounts Receivable

Thanks to recent advances in cloud technologies, many social housing providers are starting to move collections away from Bacs Approved Bureaus and reap the rewards of bringing collections in-house using a payments automation platform like ours to cut costs and take back control of their processes.

Third Party Bacs Bureaus and Facility Managers can be known to hold funds longer than necessary, which can ultimately lead to cash flow problems.

By submitting Direct Debit requests directly to Bacs, you can ensure that funds arrive into your account as soon as possible. Using a unified payments platform like AccessPay, you can even automate downloads of your Bacs reports, making reconciliation as quick and painless as possible, whilst giving your treasury team a more accurate view over live cash flow.

CFOs & CIOs

Payments automation isn’t just about efficiency and cost savings, it’s about adding an extra layer of security to your finance function.

If your organisation uses online banking portals to process Accounts Payable and payroll at the moment, the payment file generated from your back-office system will likely be stored on your server.

This can expose vulnerabilities and present an opportunity for sensitive data to be seen, accessed and potentially manipulated. Which can then lead to internal fraud.

Automation tools will offer a wide range of security tools to help combat this; including PGP encryption, 2-factor authentication (2FA) and data masking to protect your business, your staff and your tenants. As part of the file upload process, we would always advise transferring data in a secure manner using sFTP.

A secure payment process ultimately means that getting data from the originating system to the payment platform and on to Bacs is seamless and secure.

Treasury

BankSense is a real-time cash management and analytics platform which can help your Treasury team do the following:

  • Daily & intra-day cash forecasting
  • Have visibility across your entire banking estate
  • Set custom KPIs for your accounts to ensure that you don’t go into your overdraft and receive bank charges.
  • Replace manually collating cash positions from bank statements and presenting in excel with automated reporting delivered to your email inbox before you’ve even started work!
  • Use historical data and upload payment data into BankSense to create Forecasting.

If you’d like to find out more about payments automation for housing associations, connect with our social housing specialist, Craig Watson on LinkedIn or ask us a question here.

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