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Paper bank statement bedlam

up to my ears in paper bank statements

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I try to get clients to provide excel-friendly bank statements (ie csv or the likes). The banks conspire to make this difficult because they limit how far you can go back (eg 1.5 months in one case).

I managed to talk a client though on the phone and he finally managed to download his csv files. Then I said just put the file as an attachment and email it.

"Where's the file?" he said. I had to give up finally.

Scanning plus OCR on the bank statements does not work with nifty programs like Nitro because statements are not tabular enough.

My current solution: I dictate then into the pc using Dragon (a windows software). Anyone have an even madder solution?

Replies (53)

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By SXGuy
10th Dec 2020 08:32

Easy solution. Able 2 Extract.

Scan the document, load in the program, it will let you create a table around the data, and you can add or delete rows and columns to your liking.

Once you check the preview has captured the data correctly, you can export to csv or xls

Thanks (1)
Routemaster image
By tom123
10th Dec 2020 08:47

Being naive I thought open banking was supposed to get rid of this type of hassle?

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Replying to tom123:
blue sheep
By NH
10th Dec 2020 09:05

tom123 wrote:

Being naive I thought open banking was supposed to get rid of this type of hassle?

Open banking has in many cases made things worse - the 90 day bank feed authorisation renewal for example is an absolute nightmare, it was hard enough to get clients to setup the bank feed in the first place, try getting them to redo it every 3 months!

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Replying to NH:
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By SXGuy
10th Dec 2020 10:00

Totally agree. Which is why I've given up on it. I'll either import csv or extract data from hard copies using software.

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Replying to tom123:
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By johnt27
10th Dec 2020 10:41

It has and does to a degree, but plenty of businesses still not using online banking, let alone being educated about openbanking. Plus plenty of banks, or specific types of accounts, (and apps) still not fully onboard with openbanking so it's certainly not a perfect, but developing, solution at present.

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By bernard michael
10th Dec 2020 09:02

Doesn't bode well for the 2023 MTD drive

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blue sheep
By NH
10th Dec 2020 09:02

Easy solution for us is to put them through AutoEntry, simply upload the PDFs and AE does the rest - very occasionally our Acrobat PDF converts them ok to excel but usually the formatting is all off

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RLI
By lionofludesch
10th Dec 2020 09:51

Never, ever cancel your paper bank statements.

They're your fall back.

Also useful if you need to prove identity.

I'm not against online banking but it makes me smile when folk come along complaining about it.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By johnt27
10th Dec 2020 11:29

I've not had a regular paper statement (business or personal) for 10 years + and never had an issue. Maybe I'm naiive but I don't need more paper to stuff into a drawer and never look at and therefore place no value in it.

I remember dealing with a few clients who, when I requested their bank statements, used to pass them on in the unopened envelopes.

If I've ever needed a paper statement (usually for ID purposes or proof of funds when dealing with lawyers for moving house) I've logged onto banking and downloaded or requested a copy and received it quickly in the post.

Thanks (1)
Replying to lionofludesch:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
10th Dec 2020 11:44

But starting to be annoying as some banks (talking to you Clydesdale and Bank of Scotland) now sometimes (depends on number of transactions in reporting period) print transactions on both sides of the sheet of paper used but sometimes do not, this means that if for whatever reason these need scanned one has to faff about either making a copy of the reverse side to get a batch to go through the sheet feed or I presume duplex scan them all giving one pages of small print- the electric companies (SSE) are also getting in on the act.

I appreciate it is to use less paper but do find scanning the documents a bit of a pain. (Do not get me started on leases printed on both sides of paper)

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Replying to DJKL:
RLI
By lionofludesch
10th Dec 2020 12:01

DJKL wrote:

But starting to be annoying as some banks (talking to you Clydesdale and Bank of Scotland) now sometimes (depends on number of transactions in reporting period) print transactions on both sides of the sheet of paper used but sometimes do not, this means that if for whatever reason these need scanned one has to faff about either making a copy of the reverse side to get a batch to go through the sheet feed or I presume duplex scan them all giving one pages of small print- the electric companies (SSE) are also getting in on the act.

I've had to change my entire bank statement filing system to cope with this. I used to file the most recent on top but that makes no sense if they're printed on both sides unless you punch holes in the right hand edge.

So now I file the most recent at the bottom.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
10th Dec 2020 12:54

I always file upwards be it bank statements or invoices, must be habit.

The time wasted and the wear on the lever arch prongs by opening the lever arch cover , shifting all paper to front, opening lever arch lever, inserting papers, closing lever, shifting everything to the back again, to me would negate your approach, I just punch through whatever side I need to to have the transactions in date order forward through the file.

Still think banks are inconsiderate, the month totals for each side were really useful in helping to isolate bank rec errors but a lot of banks no longer even have these or worse start doing monthly statements to stupid dates.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
blue sheep
By NH
10th Dec 2020 12:02

lionofludesch wrote:

Never, ever cancel your paper bank statements.

They're your fall back.

Also useful if you need to prove identity.

I'm not against online banking but it makes me smile when folk come along complaining about it.

paper? nah not for the last 10 years thank goodness, why the heck would anyone these days want paper? download PDF, store on cloud and PC if you are worried

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Replying to NH:
RLI
By lionofludesch
10th Dec 2020 12:37

NH wrote:

lionofludesch wrote:

Never, ever cancel your paper bank statements.

They're your fall back.

Also useful if you need to prove identity.

I'm not against online banking but it makes me smile when folk come along complaining about it.

paper? nah not for the last 10 years thank goodness, why the heck would anyone these days want paper? download PDF, store on cloud and PC if you are worried

And you can rely on your clients to do that ?

No, thanks.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
blue sheep
By NH
10th Dec 2020 12:42

lionofludesch wrote:

NH wrote:

lionofludesch wrote:

Never, ever cancel your paper bank statements.

They're your fall back.

Also useful if you need to prove identity.

I'm not against online banking but it makes me smile when folk come along complaining about it.

paper? nah not for the last 10 years thank goodness, why the heck would anyone these days want paper? download PDF, store on cloud and PC if you are worried

And you can rely on your clients to do that ?

No, thanks.

I dont give a rats behind what clients do with their paper as long as they dont give it to me when I already have a perfectly good electronic copy!

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Replying to NH:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
10th Dec 2020 12:55

You just wait until the power cuts happen, you will sit their shivering whilst I will be burning my old client files.

Thanks (8)
Replying to lionofludesch:
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By lh3f9764bg1g
17th Dec 2020 10:29

I agree with this completely. The problem is that the banks are constantly trying to trick their customers into opting out of paper statements and, in many cases, they manage to gull their poor customers.

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By OldParkAcct
10th Dec 2020 10:09

I find giving clients a cost incentive helps with the information provided. If from the outset you make it clear that the cost of producing the accounts and tax return is based on how the information is provided, and then give them a significant extra charge for providing data on paper or by pdf, most then manage to keep with the cheaper option.

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By New To Accountancy
10th Dec 2020 10:12

I have different methods with each client:

* Some keep the paper copies sent to them in the post from their bank and pass them to me, I scan them on (to AutoEntry or excel if less transactions) and give them back.

* Some download from their banks and email to me (the more techy clients)

* Some copy and paste from their online banking and put onto an excel spreadsheet, all my clients have not been restricted in how far back they can go, though.

* Most I have on a bank feed.

No matter how savvy software becomes, it'll never top excel for me.
I am thinking of AM or Senta because its the GDPR of getting the bank statements to me that concerns me most and I am hoping they can upload their statements or send their emails without needing to password protect each one and then forgetting the password or me not getting the code to unlock the email etc.

It's a work in progress.
Good luck.

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Replying to New To Accountancy:
blue sheep
By NH
10th Dec 2020 10:26

[quote=New To ansactions)

I am thinking of AM or Senta because its the GDPR of getting the bank statements to me that concerns me most and I am hoping they can upload their statements or send their emails without needing to password protect each one and then forgetting the password or me not getting the code to unlock the email etc.

It's a work in progress.
Good luck.

[/quote]

What makes you think your clients cannot email bank statements or that the pdfs have to be password protected ?
I agree a secure portal is a good idea but there is nothing stopping clients emailing them if they are happy to do so

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Replying to NH:
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By New To Accountancy
10th Dec 2020 10:34

Anything with personal /sensitive data I get concerned about, but if it is a case of the client being happy to do this, then that'll do me, I just never looked at it that way.

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Replying to New To Accountancy:
RLI
By lionofludesch
10th Dec 2020 10:46

New To Accountancy wrote:

Anything with personal /sensitive data I get concerned about, but if it is a case of the client being happy to do this, then that'll do me, I just never looked at it that way.

I agree that the client needs to be aware but you only need to be concerned with stuff you send out. Stuff you receive is someone else's problem.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By New To Accountancy
10th Dec 2020 10:58

Great, thank you.

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By johnt27
10th Dec 2020 10:36

Autoentry is excellent at bank statement extraction and will deal with the differing formats between the banks. Have used them since before they were Autoentry!!

ReceiptBank also good, but can be a bit fussy about writing on bank statements, ticks etc.

Both will push into cloud software or allow you to download into excel for import or additional analysis.

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
10th Dec 2020 13:12

Do you not just use autoentry + a ledger version of Xero and cash code the bad boys out, then Roberts your fathers brother.

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Replying to Glennzy:
blue sheep
By NH
10th Dec 2020 13:24

Glennzy wrote:

Do you not just use autoentry + a ledger version of Xero and cash code the bad boys out, then Roberts your fathers brother.

who needs Xero? - its quicker to download the csv and analyse in excel

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Replying to NH:
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By JD
10th Dec 2020 14:14

''who needs Xero? - its quicker to download the csv and analyse in excel''

Totally agree - the use of filters, sort, autofill, and subtotals in excel, leaving you with a clear overview of all the transactions is a lot quicker than trying to import into Xero and the the like

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Replying to NH:
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By johnt27
10th Dec 2020 14:18

NH wrote:

who needs Xero? - its quicker to download the csv and analyse in excel

As a pretty efficient user of both I'd question that premise

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Replying to johnt27:
Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
17th Dec 2020 14:40

I would disagree, depending on volume of transactions, level of excel skills and mistakes that creep into excel I still prefer to cash code, as I find it quicker and I would hope it would lead to client getting a bank feed in place and using Xero more fuller. Autoentry also has a feature I now have heard of which allows to produce a TB from the data extracted from bank statements

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Replying to Glennzy:
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By JD
17th Dec 2020 19:02

For your interest Glenn, I have set excel up with a macro, so that it is able to apply the same style rule based coding as you would in Xero, leaving you with the balance of transaction to code manually.

IMHO using xero (or any of the competitors) does not bless the user with skill and knowledge they do not have, and by some marvel reduce the level of mistakes, or do away with the need for skill. This for me is one of the basic level flaws within the whole of HMRC MTD thinking.

Your comment regarding Autoentry is interesting and something I will have a look at - Thank you

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Replying to Glennzy:
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By JD
17th Dec 2020 19:02

For your interest Glenn, I have set excel up with a macro, so that it is able to apply the same style rule based coding as you would in Xero, leaving you with the balance of transaction to code manually.

IMHO using xero (or any of the competitors) does not bless the user with skill and knowledge they do not have, and by some marvel reduce the level of mistakes, or do away with the need for skill. This for me is one of the basic level flaws within the whole of HMRC MTD thinking.

Your comment regarding Autoentry is interesting and something I will have a look at - Thank you

Thanks (0)
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By Jo Nokes
10th Dec 2020 14:00

HSBC works for me when clients can give you secondary viewing rights, and you can download the cvs, and it’s even more user friendly now. The very worst seems to be Barclays, my own bank, lucky I don’t need to do it, but you can only go back about 6 weeks for csvs

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Replying to Jo Nokes:
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By bettybobbymeggie
10th Dec 2020 14:43

Are you using Barclays business banking or private? I just downloaded 2+ year's worth of my Barclays business bank account transactions in a single csv file.

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Replying to bettybobbymeggie:
By Charlie Carne
17th Dec 2020 11:26

For me, Barclays is the worst as they don't offer any form of accountant access. They used to have eSync Direct (via their BBIZ) which was a read-only access to client bank accounts and was perfect. Now they offer nothing, so I have to wait for clients to send me bank statements when I want to reconcile to the transactions that arrive via bank feed.

All banks should offer three facilities:
- (i) retention of transaction data going back at least 6 years (and ideally longer)
- (ii) ability to add secondary users with read-only access
- (iii) ability to download transactions into a csv for any date range chosen (not just limited to download in batches based around statement dates)

HSBC used to be terrible at this, as you could only download as many transactions as would have fitted on a printed page of A4 paper, before you had to click "next" and then download the next few days/weeks worth of data. They updated their systems a year ago and now you can download any date range you want. They now offer all of (i) to (iii) above and are excellent.

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Replying to Jo Nokes:
By kenny achampong
10th Dec 2020 23:24

For Barclays, you need to scroll down and enter the dates, and can go back to whenever you want, just 'search transactions'. I find it one of the best apart from the fact they don't bother with the balance, which isn't great, but otherwise the downloads are fine.

Whereas HSBC personal accounts are easily the worst, you can only go back 12 months, which is is no use at all for us accountants. Why did they even bother with setting it up and making such a fundamental [***]-up ?

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Replying to kenny achampong:
By Duggimon
11th Dec 2020 09:52

Why are you analysing a personal account? Surely all you need is the total interest?

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Replying to Duggimon:
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By bettybobbymeggie
11th Dec 2020 11:38

Do none of your clients operate their businesses using a personal account?

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By Duggimon
11th Dec 2020 09:56

I have a number of clients who have grasped that online banking/electronic statements are the way to go, but who think the best way to provide these are through screenshots. Usually pasted directly into the body of an email as well, not even saved as attachments.

I mean, even the pdfs can usually be copy/pasted into a spreadsheet and jiggled about a bit, screenshots are terrible.

+1 from me for Able2Extract, it works mostly really well and it's nice to have a one off payment rather than horrendously expensive subscription. I recovered all of the cost of the software on the first job I used it for.

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By djn
17th Dec 2020 09:39

Autoentry will do the job brilliantly but the costs to quickly add up.

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Replying to djn:
blue sheep
By NH
17th Dec 2020 09:52

yes and don't forget to eliminate any none data pages - that annoys me no end!

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By Swabber
17th Dec 2020 10:28

Pay £20 a year to Adobe and convert PDF to Excel?

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Replying to Swabber:
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By lh3f9764bg1g
17th Dec 2020 10:33

Is this an option? It's something I've never thought about. Does it work? And work well?

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Replying to lh3f9764bg1g:
blue sheep
By NH
17th Dec 2020 10:46

No in a nutshell it does not work too well, takes longer to reformat everything than it would to type it all in depending on the original format of the pdf.
Works OK for some banks if you have plain formatting in regular columns

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Replying to NH:
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By Swabber
17th Dec 2020 11:04

You must be a fast typer!

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By LAMBERTCLERICAL
17th Dec 2020 11:00

Slightly off-topic, but still banking: my biggest beef is with Lloyds Credit Cards. Their monthly statements used to come with a 20 - 30 page summary of all transactions, sorted by Merchant Code. A perfect posting summary for Nominal entry, took maybe 15 minutes or so. Then they stopped providing it. Now a couple of hours (if you're lucky) to work through transaction by transaction, creating a spreadsheet summary to post from. And they call this progress . . . .

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Replying to LAMBERTCLERICAL:
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By johnhemming
17th Dec 2020 11:06

LAMBERTCLERICAL wrote:

Slightly off-topic, but still banking: my biggest beef is with Lloyds Credit Cards. Their monthly statements used to come with a 20 - 30 page summary of all transactions, sorted by Merchant Code. A perfect posting summary for Nominal entry, took maybe 15 minutes or so. Then they stopped providing it. Now a couple of hours (if you're lucky) to work through transaction by transaction, creating a spreadsheet summary to post from. And they call this progress . . . .

The Open Banking APIs provide merchant information for payment cards.

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By john hextall
17th Dec 2020 12:12

Barclays have a cunning system wherein, if you print a statement which goes to more than one page, there are always one or two transactions that get lost at the bottom...

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By North East Accountant
17th Dec 2020 14:02

Hopefully now we are out the EU the big boys (ICAEW, PWC, Sage, Xero, QB etc etc) can bend the ear of the powers that be and stop the crazy 90 bank feed renewal carry on.

Maybe something along the lines of once they authorise an agent for bank feeds they get an email every 3 months saying do they want to stop it. And if they do nothing it will continue as is.

Simple.

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Replying to North East Accountant:
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By johnt27
17th Dec 2020 14:28

I hope they do, since the UK regulators widened the scope of PSD 2 and brought in stricter rules, including the 90 days rule, which the EU had originally proposed to be 180 days...

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By CardiffAccountant
18th Dec 2020 20:49

I made the decision a few years ago to go totally paperless. One of my (very few) better decisions.

I use FreeAgent, Quickbooks and VT Transact+

I must be pretty lucky, as most of my clients do not seem to have many issues with sending me the bank statements; both PDF and CSV.

For the ones who do have difficulty, we arrange a Team Viewer remote session. I take over their PC and show them how to download the files. These are then sent via the AM portal.

This has now saved me so much time and helped reduced the potential for error.

I find the best banks to download the files are: NatWest, Lloyds and HSBC. Barclays is a bit fiddly, but still, files can be downloaded. The last time looked, the worst were Cooperative and Santander.

Finally (and as an aside), just invested in a new duplex scanner - the increased speed is life changing compared to an ‘All-In-One’ jobbie.

As and when the usual HMRC and/or Companies House letters arrive, straight into the scanner and saved on PC/cloud, followed closely with a bit of shredding.

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