It was back in the 1600s when Edward Lloyd began to provide shipping news and services from a coffee house in the City of London for captains and merchants wishing to insure ships and their cargoes. These wealthy individuals would each agree to cover a proportion of the insurance risk by signing their names to a policy document. By the turn of the last century this club of marine 'underwriters' had become an international centre for all types of insurance risk, and today Lloyd's is the world's foremost insurance market.
Managing members' funds and processing payments remains at the core of Lloyd's daily activities, even though the transaction volumes involved would be unimaginable to those early traders. Now Lloyd's has implemented Bankrec from Accurate Software to ensure that these complex transactions are reconciled as quickly and accurately as possible.
Improving speed of reconciliation and reporting
The 122 syndicates competing in the Lloyd's marketplace today underwrite over half of all London's international insurance premiums, and around 3% of the world's reinsurance. As well as traditional insurance such as motor, marine, aviation and professional indemnity these syndicates also undertake less conventional risks - it was Lloyd's underwriters, for example, that insured gourmet and food critic Egon Ronay's taste buds for Â£250,000.
The Corporation's Members Funds' department (MFD), based at its offices in Chatham, Kent, handles the funds administration and securities custody on behalf of Lloyd's members and corporate investors. This department receives funds and liquid assets from underwriting members as deposited cheques as well as electronically. It also sends payments to members, their agents and syndicates as cheques and via SWIFT, CHAPS and BACS.
MFD is committed to using the most advanced, robust technologies to support these business requirements, and had consequently decided to implement a new HP Unix platform together with Tarot, a flexible PC-based General Ledger system from TCA Synergo. At the same time the department wanted to automate its reconciliation function with a solution that would improve the speed of reconciliation and accuracy of its management reporting.
Alan Cook, Reconciliation Accountant at the Members Funds' department, explained, "Manual reconciliation is time-consuming and vulnerable to human error, so we wanted to automate the process as much as possible. We also need to provide detailed information to enable analysis of our business performance. We therefore wanted a solution that would enable the department's staff to create reports and present data flexibly, quickly and without specialist IT support."
TCA Synergo recommended Bankrec from Accurate Software as an advanced reconciliation and exception management solution that would automate the entire reconciliation process for the Lloyd's department as well as providing flexible and customisable management reporting.
Cook said, "We looked at the product in action at a customer site and what impressed us most was its speed and flexibility. It also reconciles numbers rather than specific units, so even though we needed it initially for monetary reconciliation we could use it in the future to streamline other functions, such as stock management."
Professional ongoing support
Supported by Accurate Software, MFD have now implemented Bankrec to reconcile statements to cashbooks for its three main accounts, Sterling, US Dollar and Euro. These accounts record up to approximately 300 transactions a day, with daily volumes periodically hitting 5,000 in the Sterling account.
Accurate also conducted individual training sessions with all the department's users to ensure they were fully conversant with the new software before it went live. Accurate also provides a dedicated helpline number for additional software support.
Cook said, "The service and support we have received from Accurate sets them apart from other suppliers. The staff that operate the dedicated helpline are all highly experienced, which means our queries are answered quickly."
He continued, "That said, Bankrec is very easy to use, and Accurate's training was of a high standard. Staff with no previous knowledge of reconciliation work have been able to start using the system within minutes."
Enhancing business agility
With the system now in place the Members' Funds department has found that Bankrec is delivering a number of important benefits.
Cook said, "With Bankrec we have gained immediate, high visibility of our reconciliation data. We can view the processing of every transaction, and Bankrec also provides a complete audit trail to track any movement or amendment. You can't remove a full stop from a name without Bankrec recording the change, which gives you enormous confidence that you will be able to pinpoint any query quickly and easily."
One feature of the Bankrec solution that MFD have found particularly useful is its ability to roll back to the previous situation when a reconciliation query arises. The department has set regular daily checkpoints within Bankrec, so if it encounters a reconciliation problem it can compare the situation to the status at the last checkpoint of that day. At most, this means tracking back through just three hours of processed transactions, enabling any errors to be identified and resolved much more quickly than in the past.
The solution is also enabling the department to generate detailed and customised reports itself, without any need for IT support, within a matter of hours. Cook said, "If you want to create a new report you simply specify the criteria and the software generates exactly what you need. It's a flexibility that runs throughout the entire Bankrec solution."
He concluded, "We set out to implement technology that would give our department functional and business agility - and that is what we have with Bankrec. It is giving us flexibility and speed - speed of processing, speed of reporting, speed of results and speed at which we perform our fundamental business tasks."