As an independent development professional, after I’ve completed a deliverable, or tied a contract in a nice bow, I like to get paid for the work I have performed. I’ve found this sentiment to hold for essentially all other independent consultants I’ve had the pleasure to know and work with around the world. [I say generally for two reasons: (1) there is a good deal of awesome volunteer work available in both development and aid arenas and (2) I’ve also met my fair share of people who, although employed or contracted as professionals, exude guilt, distaste, or other unpleasant emotion about receiving payment for their hard work helping others.]
So as someone who engages consultants on a regular basis, I’m still amazed at the number of times it is truly a difficult process to make a payment for completed work. While the company is responsible for paying you – it is very much in your interest as an independent professional to make sure there is no doubt about how you should get paid. More often than not, however, I see extended email trails asking for account numbers (really?), SWIFT codes, bank addresses, etc. And then, I’m flabbergasted when I see communications from consultants who either become combative about providing bank info (as if its my responsibility to figure out how to pay them) or those that respond with incomplete information (requiring so much back and forth to get it right).
As with (almost) all things, there is a very simple solution to this all-too-frequent issue: create and maintain an up-to-date document that has complete banking information for yourself.
Three quick tips on how to leverage this simple document to make your life easier:
- Keep this document in soft copy in an “administration” folder of some type that you can access at anytime. Then, whenever anyone asks for your banking information, you can just send them this document (or a link to it), saving everyone time and energy.
- Try to have the information from this document stated in your contract. This ensures this information is known to everyone involved and doesn’t get lost in the flurry of any other information exchanges you’ll have with your client.
- If you cannot get your banking info in the contract, because of a standardized contract or the like, then make sure one of your very first communications with your contract holder/manager contains this information as an attachment. This is not distasteful or unprofessional, especially if you’re working with a smaller company or NGO (governments, UN agencies and large IOs usually have separate processes for the technical and administrative), and, from my experience, they will thank you because this make their life easier when its time to push send on a payment.
Rather than starting from scratch, I’ve put together a template (as a public Google Doc) for you that contains an exhaustive list of potentially necessary banking information. If you fill this template out and keep it in your administration folder for easy access, you should be all set for the future: