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Manageability

Trust accounts vs individual accounts: How to optimise efficiency while meeting your clients’ needs

By 6th Sep 2019 No Comments

Property Management companies have two options when it comes to managing their communities’ accounts: a series of individual bank accounts for each community, or a single, central trust account in the name of the managing agent.

“Trust accounts are the preferred option for most larger property management businesses because of the processing efficiencies that they provide,” says Danie van der Merwe, community management software specialist and Director of WeconnectU. “By using a central trust account for all communities within their portfolio, managing agents can streamline their monthly processing using existing tools and pass those efficiencies on to their clients.”

Modern trends, however, have seen increasing numbers of trustees unwilling to accept a trust account solution, prompted by perceived fears of fraud and a lack of control in a trust account environment.

“More and more trustees are demonstrating a strong preference for individual accounts over a trust environment, as they’re seen as more transparent and secure,” says van der Merwe. “Unfortunately, when you’re managing more than a hundred communities, downloading and processing that number of bank statements and payments manually and/or individually is prohibitively time intensive.”

Managing agents have also been forced to open individual investment bank accounts for all sectional title schemes as of 7 October 2016 under the STSMA (Act No 8 of 2011).

“This has presented a huge challenge for large property management businesses, because running multiple accounts individually is so inefficient, and bulk administration tools have not been available,” says van der Merwe. “Even banks have been unable to handle bulk payments, processing or statement retrieval for the industry until recently. As a result, a lot of property managers have been caught between a rock and a hard place – disappoint their trustees or clients by declining to offer individual bank accounts, or find a way to somehow shoulder the massive additional workload.”

While the shift in market preferences from centralised trust accounts to individual bank accounts has created many challenges for property managers, all is not lost in the quest for processing efficiencies. In an industry first, the team at WeconnectU has created a solution that effortlessly solves this challenge as part of their Community Management Software solution.

“Our goal at WeconnectU has always been to enable property managers to meet and exceed the needs of today’s trustees in the most efficient and effective manner possible,” says van der Merwe. “In this case, that meant creating a solution that allows managing agents using our platform to administer as many separate bank accounts as they need to with the same level of ease and efficiency as a central trust environment.”

The result is that WeconnectU users are now able to run an unlimited number of individual bank accounts from a single, central, consolidated platform. Individual statements are downloaded in a single bulk file and are automatically allocated to the appropriate communities, providing the same level of efficiency as the previous central trust account environment.

“This also provides trustees with full transparency and removes any potential or imagined risks posed by shared financial infrastructure,” says van der Merwe.

Payments are equally simple, with approvals generated for each community by the managing agent and then compiled into a single file by WeconnectU. This file can be uploaded directly to the bank, which uses it to trigger the appropriate payments from each account – again mirroring the efficiencies of a trust account environment within an individual account scenario.

These are not the only bulk processing efficiencies WeconnectU offers its users, however. Their Community Management Software solution also provides several other industry firsts in this area. These include:

  • Bulk trustee reporting
  • Bulk arrear notices & debt collecting
  • Bulk accrual of interest
  • Bulk billing
  • Bulk supplier invoice processing & approvals
  • Bulk communication

“It really is a solution that combines the best of both worlds, enabling property managers to align their services with industry demands” says van der Merwe. “Trustees get all the separation, transparency and perceived security of an exclusive community bank account, and managing agents get all the processing efficiencies of working with a consolidated, portfolio-wide financial environment. We’re proud to offer the first solution enabling property managers to effectively fulfil the needs of today’s – and tomorrow’s – clients.”

For more information on WeconnectU’s intelligent property management software solutions, including its Community Management and Rental Asset Management Platforms, visit https://weconnectu.co.za/.