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Internet banking functionality

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We download transactions from a number of different Banks for our clients. Quality varies - RBS Group is favourite, former LloydsTSB second. Some business accounts allow a 'delegate' to have look-and-see only access.

The key issue for us is being able to easily download transactions to use in Excel.

Has anyone experience of this with Metrobank please?

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By Charlie Carne
02nd Mar 2017 10:46

Yes they do and they allow a delegate (eg accountant) to be set up as an additional user with read-only access. To download statements, go to:

View your accounts and then click "Search your transactions" which brings up a window into which you can set your date parameters and hit the blue "Search transactions" button. This will generate the report on screen. Whilst the screen report will be split across numerous pages, if you then click the "download transactions" link at the foot of the report, it will spit them all out into a single CSV file. It may cap it at 500 transactions at a time per CSV but there appears to be no time limit, so you could get 3 years' transactions at once if there are fewer than 500 transactions in those 3 years. If there are more, then run the report twice for different date ranges encompassing no more than 500 in each.

I have lots of clients with HSBC and, whilst i like their internet banking system's ability for me to have a single login to access all clients at once with read-only access, i get frustrated that HSBC limit the number of transactions that can be downloaded into a CSV to no more than a month at a time and, if there are too many transactions in a single month, it further limits the CSV download to the number of transactions that would print out onto a typical paper statement (approx 20-30 transactions at a time)! So, if I want a year's worth of transactions, I have to download a minimum of 12 CSV files and possibly many more and then knit them all together and run a check calculation to check that none are missing. Oh and the CSV includes blank space characters in what should be empty cells, so a "sum" calculation in Excel won't work until you go into all of the apparently blank cells and hit "delete" to remove the "space" character which Excel interprets as text. HSBC really could make life a lot easier if they allowed many more transactions to be downloaded at once (at least a year at a time, perhaps capped at 1,000 transactions to prevent overload of their systems for clients with huge transactional volume).

RBS/NatWest get Brownie points for allowing large numbers of transactions over a lengthy time period to be downloaded at once, but you need a separate login for each client (why can't they allow multiple companies to be linked to a single login user ID as HSBC and Metro do?) and, much worse, the delegate user cannot be limited to read-only access! Why don't they offer that? They must know that accountants need to read the data but not make payments.

Barclays have a nice system called eSync which is specifically designed for accountants to have all of their clients in a single login with read-only access. But their Achilles heel is that you can only view transactions as far back as 40 days prior to setting up eSync! So, if the client has traded for years with Barclays but you set up eSync today, you cannot see transactions from 2 months ago! Why can't they allow access to as much data in eSync as is available to the client in their main Barclays login?

If the banks looked at each other's systems, they could all offer all of the benefits required by accountants:
- delegate users with read-only access
- ability to see transactions back to the start of the account (or at least back 2-3 years)
- ability to download at least a year (or more) in a single CSV, perhaps only capped if the transactional volume for that lengthy period is so huge (eg > 1,000) that it might overload the bank's systems)
- ensure that empty cells in the CSV are truly empty and not filled with "space" characters that prevent the ability to add up a column of figures.

Is that too much to ask of the major banks? And sorry, David Ross, if I used your post as an excuse to rant at the incompetence of the banks!

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Replying to charliecarne:
David Ross
By davidross
02nd Mar 2017 13:00

Thanks for this - you have reported experiences very similar to mine, and I agree with every bit of criticism of the Banks.

I used to say how wonderful their IT systems were but it turns out they have been patching over legacy systems for years. They should have got together like IATA for the airlines to deliver a common standard.

Barclays are pants but I think I detect a recent improvement

The old Lloyds TSB group are not too bad. It does mean stitching together batches of 25 lines and reversing the sort order, which is tedious, but way better than the average of 1 minute per line to create a spreadsheet from a printed statement.

We are told that 'customer demand' is behind listing latest transactions at the top - I don't believe it. As for NatWest printing paper statements on A5, that was supposed to be a customer request (I'd like to find that customer and throttle them)

But then, can we expect the clever clogs at the top of companies to notice the obvious, when most cafes including Marks and Spencer have teapots that pee all over the table? Debenhams are an exception in that regard.

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By Ian_mcdonald
03rd Mar 2017 11:18

For anyone reading this and considering using HSBC, I confirm HSBC transaction download is a dreadful and frustrating experience.

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Replying to Ian_mcdonald:
David Ross
By davidross
03rd Mar 2017 12:07

My experience of HSBC (business) may be different from Charlie and Ian.

I click on "Statements", then on the Account, then on the little red statement numbers. At the bottom of the screen you have to select spreadsheet format and tick the box (every time!) then download. One has to watch out in case there is more than one set of statements for each month, and click on the appropriate red numbers at the top.

You get transactions in a series of spreadsheets which you need to stitch together, and then do quote a lot of find and replace to clean up - but that seems to be an issue with all banks. Then again I would rather have more information than less. If would be good if the put "-" instead of "DR" to indicate overdrafts.

On the subject of downgrading, Lloyds now send out CSV files without the .csv on the end - and they know it because they warn that you have to add the tag yourself! Are these systems really run by IT experts?

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