Business client accounts can enable professional practices to ring-fence clients’ money from other business activities and can be used to handle and pay deposits and rents. Here’s how they work.
What is a client account?
A client account is a bank account that enables businesses to hold their clients’ funds in separate accounts. It can be suitable for professional practices or other businesses that hold clients’ money. This can include solicitors, accountants, insurance brokers and estate agents or property managers.
Property managers can use client accounts to hold tenants’ service charges and security deposits, for example, while solicitors might use them to manage financial and property transactions.
A client account is legally required for any company that handles investments on a client’s behalf. It protects that money in the event the company becomes insolvent.
How does a client account work?
There are 2 main types of client accounts – designated and undesignated accounts.
Designated accounts let businesses hold their clients’ individual funds in separate accounts. This is suitable for auditors, accountants and tax advisers. The money in the account can be accessed easily and might earn interest, depending on the account.
Alternatively, undesignated (or pooled) accounts enable businesses to hold multiple clients’ funds in a shared account with 1 account number. This can be suitable for accountants, solicitors or insurance brokers. Again, money can be accessed easily, and interest might be paid on the account.
You might be able to open a client account online, in your nearest bank branch or over the phone. The account can only hold money on behalf of your clients and can’t be used to make payments for your own business.
Are client accounts protected by the FSCS?
Yes, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protects deposits held in client accounts the same way it protects individual deposits. That means up to £85,000 per person per financial institution is covered.
On top of this, there is a provision for temporary high balances of up to £1 million per person, per banking group for 6 months. This protection is important for law firms that often hold large amounts of client money for short periods – for example, if they are carrying out a conveyancing transaction. Each claim is considered on a case-by-case basis. You can find out more on the FSCS website.
Business client accounts can help professional firms hold client money safely and securely, but as with any other type of account, it pays to compare options carefully. Make sure you check whether there is a minimum deposit requirement, whether the account pays interest and whether there are any monthly or transaction charges.
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