Conveyancers urged to commit to open banking

The era of open banking is here to stay and it’s time for conveyancers to commit to using it, says X-Press Legal Services.

At The Law Society’s National Conference in October, Peter Rodd, chief assessor for the Conveyancing Quality Scheme, told the 11% of firms who said they have not undergone a recent audit of practice-wide risk assessment for anti-money laundering, to get an audit done.

He also called on the 29% of firms who are not Cyber Essentials – or Cyber Essentials Plus-certified to reconsider.

Peter Todd, stated:

“The risk [of cyber-crime] is substantial.”

A change is on the horizon and The Law Society is now emphasising the message X-Press has been passing out to law firms through its Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes for many years.

A prime example is Source of Funds at the beginning of every conveyancing transaction. It is still believed by many law firms that verbal or written statements accompanied by printed bank statements are sufficient forms of evidence. X-Press is resolute that they are not.

Scott Reece, Head of IT Services at X-Press Legal Services, commented:

“In today’s highly digital professional landscape it is vital that the legal sector becomes familiar with open banking for Source of Funds checks.

Not only does this prevent money-laundering but it also helps establish the provenance of the particular funds for use in a transaction. Using a blended approach and utilising this new technology is proven to reduce the amount of time that is spent compiling this information.

There are numerous suppliers in the market who can provide legal firms with a choice of Source of Funds products to suit transactions of varying complexities and property types.  These tools are simple to use, secure and incredibly accurate in the evidence they provide.  I would recommend conveyancers whether they are sole traders or part of nationwide firms, make a resolution to switch to open banking in 2024, as the safest means of protecting their firm and their clients throughout every property transaction.”

Source of Funds tools have become incredibly sophisticated over recent years and can be worked into firm’s existing workflows.  The latest products are all incredibly easy to use, helping conveyancers streamline documentation collection by swiftly providing data, answers and evidence through open banking.  Such tools are transforming the convoluted process of conducting manual checks and provide conveyancers with the armour they need to protect themselves against money laundering and non-compliance.

Scott added:

“Alongside helping conveyancers meet and prove their compliance responsibilities, Source of Funds products also save a lot of time and money.

The use of open banking enables faster, accurate decisions that contribute to speeding up the transaction process.  If your firm isn’t using a Source of Funds tool, it may be the right time to reassess your current process. It could be the difference between passing that SRA audit or not.

As we reach the end of 2023, I highly recommend conveyancers book their firms in for an annual compliance audit and start the New Year with a renewed confidence in compliance and open banking.  Think of Cyber Essentials and practice wide AML assessments as an annual MOT that will enable you to keep the conveyancing engine running smoothly.  And open banking is the upgrade your Sat Nav needs to ensure you are always heading in the right direction!”

Read more about this over on X Press Legal’s Compl:ex Report and the full report here.

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