Following the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) new regulation regarding Third-Party-Managed Accounts (TPMAs) which came into effect November 2019, there’s been much discussion around the interpretation of how law firms will meet compliance, the effect on PII, as well as the usefulness of TPMAs in general.
As we look at different ways of working and evaluate what functions really are core to the operation of a business in this Coronavirus time, TPMAs may well come up higher on people’s agendas. It’s a great opportunity to make changes, cut costs, reduce risk and explore alternatives you may not have had the time to do up to now.
Along with many businesses that are finding ways support others during this time, Shieldpay is doing our best to do our part too.
We are offering the use of Shieldpay, without the usual monthly management fees, until end of June 2020, so that you can evaluate how TPMA could work for you.
Issues that your practice may be facing during this time that Shieldpay can help with:
Reliance on E-chits and internal sign off
In most cases legal cashiers will tend to work on-site and will not have the systems access and firms will not have the procedures in place to handle remote working, in particular when it comes to getting partner authorisation for payments. Cashiers using Shieldpay are able to get fully audited digital authorisations from fee earners and partners to execute payment instructions through one simple platform.
Account Rules requirement of paying client funds and returning funds “promptly”
As staff are not in the office, there may be delays due to the complications of receiving and scanning post. Funds held with and by Shieldpay are not consider client monies under the Accounts Rules, and so this requirement to move funds promptly falls away. By encouraging the adoption and the use of Shieldpay by clients, you are able to move away from the acceptance of cheques (although Shieldpay does accept cheques where essential).
IT, Security & Access issues
Many firms won’t be set up to facilitate remote working. In particular around the access to the firm’s bank accounts and to ability to make payments remotely. This is generally locked down as a security measure, but firms are now having to deviate from their own policies and procedures to continue business operations. With that, comes an added level of risk, and firms need to remain vigilant. Shieldpay’s systems and security will allow firms to operate freely from any location and with the same level of control and supervision around payments, as they would with the team in the office. Another option to allow for more secure remote working is to use hosted desktop solutions. At Shieldpay, we use Nasstar to ensure that we can manage the access and security of our systems. They also count a number of other law firms as clients.
Many firms already use electronic KYC tools to help with onboarding clients. For those that don’t, this is a great opportunity to start implementing these tools. Shieldpay offers KYC and AML checks, including source of funds checks, as part of the payment processing.