Nick Cray is deputy director of finance at Lovells.
As an international firm, Lovell White Durrant has bank accounts with 20 different banks around the world. In the UK, banking is split between two banks, which provide us with almost all services. This allows the firm to pick the provider of each service, choosing whether we benefit from the method used to provide the service or through using the cheapest one.
Increasingly, services are provided electronically. We have had an in-house CHAPS system (Clearing house automated payments system) for several years.
Prompt notification of incoming funds can be as important as the ability to send funds at short notice. Security and controls must obviously be strict with a system which sends out irrevocable funds, but our system is efficient, cost effective and reliable.
We can also obtain details of our account balances, transfer funds between accounts and send BACS (Bulk automated clearance system) payments (three-day clearance) through terminals in our offices. The systems in this area are not as as user-friendly as they might be, but they are improving.
Systems to send payments overseas are less advanced and are more difficult to obtain. We have yet to get our international wire transfer system operational in-house and so rely on our bankers to initiate payments.
We produce bank drafts in-house and can draw these in more than 25 currencies. This service is provided by the London branch of a US bank.
As for the future, technology should continue to make life easier. We are planning to produce cheques using laser technology in the near future, allowing us to use almost blank paper. This means never again having the stationery and accounting system disagreeing over the cheque numbers used, since the system will not only print all the details but also carry out the micro-coding at the bottom of the cheques.