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Banking on Business

16 Aug

I’m in the market for a business bank account. My own business is in the process of being registered but thanks to a recent change in legislation it is no longer possible to register new Closed Corporations in South Africa. One has to register a Pty (Ltd). This in itself is not a big deal but with the changes made there is an enormous backlog at the CIPC offices and I have been told that the registration process can take up to 10 weeks to be finalized.

I still need to conduct business. Normally, without a company registration number one cannot open a business account. However, I went to see what three of our banks are doing to help customers under these unusual circumstances.

Nedbank Epsom Downs Branch: Can open a Sole Proprietor account for me in the company’s name IF I HAVE DOCUMENTATION STATING THAT THE NAME HAS BEEN REGISTERED.  Once the PTY(Ltd) registration comes through they open a new account in the company’s name. The new account will have a new number. When I explained that my account number cannot be changed because most payments into my account will be via EFT and the account details will be posted on my website, the response was that there was nothing else they could do.

FNB: Can open a Sole Proprieter’s account in the company’s name and when the registration goes through this is added to the company’s profile. The account number does not need to change. I also get an accounting software program, earn e-bucks on my account, and the bank has services catering to businesses that run online shopping sites. This all sounds perfect and rosy but my South African instincts tell me that this is too good to be true. I will investigate the authenticity of these claims and keep you posted.

ABSA: Can open a Sole Proprietor account, but again the account number has to change when my business registration comes through. The strange thing about going to their Small Business centre at their Fourways branch is that there was a person sitting at the help desk who couldn’t answer any of my questions ,but dialed the call centre and handed the phone to me to so I could speak to a consultant. I’m not even going to comment on that.

The FNB offer sounds the best but I need to reconfirm if the information I was given is correct. The consultant at FNB who attended to my queries seemed to be playing solitaire or something on his computer while attending to me. I was having one of my ‘let it slide’ days so I didn’t make a big point of the fact that I did not have his full attention. In fact, I behaved quite admirably. I didn’t even roll my eyes when he couldn’t finish his sentences because he was distracted by what was happening on his computer screen.

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