Changing your unit's bank account?

What happens if you need to change your unit bank account?

22 February 2022

Over the past few years, banks and building societies have changed how accounts are managed, with some closing accounts or charging fees.

Many units, some who’ve used the same bank for many years, have found themselves looking for a new bank account. We spoke to leaders who’ve been affected and asked them for their top tips on how to find a new account.

Talk to your commissioner and other leaders in your area

Last year Anne, a Brownie leader, was told by her building society that the treasurer account the unit held for over 40 years was closing: ‘I really panicked when I found out, especially when the letter arrived just before subs were due. After I calmed down, I rang my commissioner and found out she was in the same situation. We both spoke to other leaders about who they banked with and how they found setting it up – the result was that we both set up separate accounts with the same bank’.

Guide leader Liz’ advice is to ‘shop around and speak to other leaders to find out what they do. I spoke to another leader who was setting up an account with the same bank. She told me what not to do which meant I didn’t make the same mistakes and it made it all so easy’.

Shop around

Traditionally, units have held charity accounts but there are many others available that are free. Alex, from Scotland, explained that her unit ‘went for a club account rather than a charity account because although both were free the bank system didn’t have an easy way to explain the Girlguiding charity number system'.

Anne’s unit went for a business account which she says was really quick and easy to set up.

If possible, go for an online option

Marie’s Brownie unit recently opened an online bank account. This has made it easier for the leadership team to see when parents have paid subs or for an additional activity. It also allows the unit to pay by bank transfer for their hall hire.

She says: ‘There’s a second authorisation system in place so two leaders can sign. Definitely go for an account with online view access. I used to go into the bank on a regular basis and now I only go when I need to pay cash in. Also, try to get as many of your parents to pay via online banking as it makes keeping track of your unit accounts so much easier!’

Have all the information at your fingertips

When opening the account have all the information available of signatories (name, address for last five years, date of birth). This will make the process so much easier.

Use a bank account that’s different to your personal bank account

Rebecca’s unit also has an online account. She finds it ‘beneficial to be a different bank to my personal accounts, as it means there is no way I can get the cards mixed up, but I recognize that might be the opposite to what others might want'.

Don’t forget there’s other help available

Before looking around for your new bank account make sure you read the finance policy and our Setting up a bank account webpage for extra information.

If you need more help, speak to your commissioner or county or local treasurer. They’ll be able to support you.