Bank Account opening


An account in foreign banks is, of course, very convenient and provides ample opportunities for efficient use of modern payment instruments, investment funds, various projects from acquisition of real estate to payment salaries to employees.

Clients of many foreign banks may use different guarantees, including governmental in case of problems, the Bank (return of funds from accounts in full or with a restriction of the amount depending on jurisdiction). An account in a respectable foreign bank having high rating or in a bank of an economically developed country with a stable legislation is on general concepts also a part of positive business image.

In accordance with requirements of most banks, to open a corporate account in a foreign bank a recommendation shall be provided. It can be provided either by the client of the bank or a known to the bank attorney (a law firm, a partner bank) or another bank. Sometimes recommendation of Russian banks is not enough to open accounts in foreign banks.

We assist our clients in opening bank accounts, while it is initially assumed that the information received from clients and on the basis of which a recommendation to the bank is made, is complete and accurate.

We cooperate with many foreign banks for many years and our reputation allows us to recommend our clients to the Banks, even those without a considerable banking history. Asking our clients to provide us with information and documents, we are guided by common sense, the principles of necessity and sufficiency; consider the requirements of the bank. Although sometimes banks request additional documents and information, it is based on their internal rules and directives.

Our company can recommend our customers to a bank; however it is very important to us that after the account opening that the client should properly built its relations with the Bank to ensure a long-term and mutually beneficial cooperation.

We do everything possible to maintain the image of a client.

Obtained from the client information is strictly confidential and is disclosed to the Bank only and to the extent necessary to open account. Any documents and information received from the Client are stored in special vaults with a limited access to them equipped with modern security system.

Some basic principles of working with clients

Any foreign bank operates under a number of general principles. They are formed by their long history and experience, as well as local legislation. 

In accordance with these principles a Bank on the one hand, guarantees the secrecy of deposits and total confidentiality of any information obtained from customers. On the other hand, a Bank expects respectful attitude from its clients, like disclosure of certain information, availability of customers for contact, in careful and accurate filling in bank forms.

A wide known general principle “know your customer” (KYC) is applicable to all clients without exception, and is as follows:

  • A Bank requests information on the ultimate beneficiary - the true owner of income earned from operations of a client (a company or private person acting on behalf of another person) – it must be an individual. A Bank wants to have documentary proof of a client’s relation to the beneficiary through the shares ownership or trust agreement, as well as documentary proof of the contact details of the beneficiary. In most cases a Bank contacts with the beneficiary to obtain confirmation of the information provided.
  • A Bank needs to know about the client’s sphere of business, his experience in this sphere, number of employees in the company, about other bank accounts if any, as well as the planned turnover of the account and information about the main business partners. A Bank requires such information not for the purpose of incriminating a client in a prohibited business and refuse to open an account, but for the purpose of proper structuring of further cooperation and understanding of the essence of future transactions. Information about the beneficiary, as well as bank transactions is strictly confidential and protected by national and international law. This information is disclosed only in accordance with a court decision of the country under the laws of which the Bank operates.

Another important principle of banks is the fight for “clean” money.

The concept of money laundering, which means concealing shady sources of funds, entered into everyday life and is used in regulations. Many countries have adopted (or are considering) legislation to combat money laundering. These laws reflect the attitude of lawmakers and banks towards the payments not supported by documents or not executed properly.

In the event of a dangerous situation a Bank may resort to extreme actions, including freezing and closing accounts of all customers from particular jurisdictions. For example, in the case of disclosure of a transaction associated with illegal activities (weapons sale, drug trafficking, terrorist or extremist organizations, etc.).

Due to the fact that we know the precedents of counteractions by banks, as well as to maintain the clients’ business image, we advise them to be extremely careful in business and not abuse the opportunities obtained from cooperation with a Bank.

Peculiarities of the process of opening accounts for Russian clients

Requirements for Russian clients in opening bank accounts do not differ much from the requirements for other customers.

Of course, we must admit, that large and respectable foreign banks open accounts for residents of their countries more willingly, and verify foreigners more thoroughly. This is due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of a foreign client, as well as differences in legislation between countries and the language barrier.

Also, one should treat with understanding the fact that some banks require the filling in the declaration confirming that the owners and managers of the client and their family members are not officials (public employee). Otherwise a Bank can refuse to open an account, and this especially applies to residents of Russia and Eastern Europe.

There are a number of foreign banks that have additional requirements to Russian clients, this is due both to political relations between countries and direct instructions of the authorities on this matter, and with the Banks’ negative experience of work with dishonest clients.

In general, Banks have standard requirements in opening accounts for Russian clients and are guided by common principles. However, in some cases Russian clients need to be prepared for the fact that banks may ask for additional references and documents confirming financial condition of the client, beneficiaries and managers, as well as other information.

Additional facilities provided by banks

If a client fulfills all requirements for account opening and carefully conducts its business, the most banks are open for cooperation and are always ready to give any assistance and support to its clients, such as non-standard procedures of account management or urgent transactions and notifications of expected funds receipt, support in other matters, making a recommendation on a client's request.

As a rule, most banks offer tools for remote access to the client’s account and its management, that allow clients to follow how and when money is credited or debited, and sometimes speed up transactions. Fee for use of remote access is usually low and is compensated by convenience and speed of transactions.

Debit and credit payment cards are another facility provided by almost all banks. Using a prestigious and convenient corporate credit card is very important for a Russian company. A number of banks have “card projects. It is the release of a large number of corporate cards as part of specific programs, such as salary payment to employees. Clients of the largest banks, who must meet strict requirements to get a card, may be required to have a good banking history. Sometimes it is possible to obtain credit cards without banking history if some amount of additional deposit is credited to the card.

Transfer of assets via a bank to mutual or investment funds is another interesting possibility offered by Banks. The resulting yield obtained in this case may exceed the ordinary yield of bank deposits. It is especially necessary to note the possibility of placement of funds in specialized financial institutions which are inherently financial brokers. In this case, the client has an opportunity to manage his funds around the world using just a phone call to the broker.

In addition, when a client gradually builds his banking history by long-term positive relationship with a Bank, it is in itself the most important result of cooperation.

Several bank accounts opening

After a certain term a company may require several bank accounts. This may be due to the need for separation of cash flows on individual business lines, for example: for transactions related to the main current activity, for investment activity, for card projects, for dividend payment or receiving, etc. Accounts can be opened in different banks (if the company operates in several regions), or a client may have additional accounts in one bank.

Many banks open multi-currency accounts to make payments more convenient. However, it is sometimes advisable to open accounts in different currencies. Practice shows, that the interest earned from deposits in local currency is in some jurisdictions more profitable than, say, in dollars.

Corporate accounts in several banks support positive business image of a company and point to its cooperation with many financial organizations and their confidence in this company. It also gives an opportunity for a company to obtain, if necessary, bank references that might be useful.

Choosing a bank

The list of banks with which our company cooperates is very broad.

Not every company engaged in such business can provide a service of bank accounts opening. At the same time, such extensive list of banks as we have makes it difficult to choose.

When choosing a bank, above all, one must be guided by the purposes of the account opening.

  • Frequent movement of the account’s funds
    If the specific of your business assumes a large number of transactions in the account, you need to seek cooperation with a sufficiently large bank capable to transfer funds anywhere in the world within a short time. On the other hand, large banks as a rule request more detailed information from clients and have a number of other requirements such as a minimum account balance. This also should be considered when deciding on the bank.
  • Preserve money without controlling them
    If a company is established in order to gain and preserve assets, and frequent and urgent transactions in the accounts are not intended, then any bank will do. However, small and medium-sized banks are willing to contact more often and much more ready to consider wishes of their clients. They are much more loyal and easy to contact.
  • Self-management of funds in the account
    If the funds will be accumulated in the accounts for the purpose of their growth and investing, it is more appropriate to use a special financial broker. The client can manage his invested funds on his own giving direct instructions to the broker on the phone. Nevertheless, any time you can use the funds for commercial payments (for example, under contracts, for lending / repayment of loans) through the same financial tool. The main condition for this is that it should not happen very often, and investment should remain the main purpose for the assets.

We need to pay special attention to banks' requirements regarding the minimum balance in the account. This requirement is imposed by some banks oriented to major clients.

Minimum balance requirement does not mean that all of this amount shall be immediately credited to the account, nor does it mean that the money generally can not be used. On the contrary, the money can be credited to your account and used for payments under contracts as well as for other purposes.

In addition, the account balance can be placed in deposits and be used as a guaranty when issuing credit cards/ A Bank may also (on request) place these funds in investment and mutual funds.

In any case, Banks, making a demand of a minimum account balance, can always place these funds themselves and are not willing this money to be transferred by a client to another bank.

There are several basic criteria for a bank choosing:

  • reliability and prestige of the Bank
  • willingness of the bank to conduct a large number of transactions during short time intervals
  • controlling the Bank’s major transactions by the central bank of a country, other special requirements of national legislation
  • good customer service (providing remote access to your account)
  • cost of service
  • possibility of issuing payment cards (debit / credit)
  • interest on current and deposit accounts
  • location of the bank and its branches
  • availability of investment programs
  • personnel speaking different languages

Lack of experience of cooperation with foreign banks and lack of skills of communication with international banks can lead to misunderstanding of the essence some claims of foreign banks to their prospective customers. Not willing to offend a client, a Bank will never give direct instructions - how and what to do, how to fill in the forms correctly or describe your business, what phrases should not be used because they may cause the Bank's additional questions.

We are ready to explain to our clients the rights of a Bank which are to be observed for the successful start of cooperation.

The most valuable thing a bank has, as indeed any serious business structure, is its reputation. Therefore, a Bank is potentially ready to refuse opening account even to a client having large assets, if the client gives raise to doubt or the Bank thinks that such cooperation may damage its reputation. Such a decision can be made by the Bank to ensure reliability of its policies.

Therefore, we encourage our clients to understand and take into account the requirements of banks.

Basic rules of cooperation with foreign banks

  • the more a bank knows the customer, the better is for the customer
  • bank is always right, even if it is not always the case
  • A Bank must always know what business its client is engaged in.
    One should not regard it as an idle curiosity or excessive suspicion. When knows the sphere of your business a Bank can easily find a proper way for communication with a client; moreover, a bank feels more secure in deciding whether to continue cooperation.
    If a client is not indifferent to its future relations with the bank, he should provide as much information as possible about his company and its activities.
  • A Bank is always interested in direct communication with a client.
    One should not send documents to a Bank without specifying the phone number. Moreover, a client should be available to a Bank by the specified phone number even through secretaries or other persons, but with a reasonable time spent. A Bank should always be able to send you a message, even if it is Christmas card.
    The postal address specified by a client must be real. A Bank should have an opportunity to respond to a client’s requests as soon as possible. In case of change of the postal address one must notify the Bank.
    We can provide our clients with postal addresses in Europe for banking correspondence. This address will maintain confidentiality of correspondence and minimize the loss of correspondences.
  • Documents sent to a Bank, should be prepared very carefully and competently, including primary documents for account opening.
    Any strikeouts or corrections are not allowed.
    Documents should be filled in accordance with standards accepted in western countries. It is better not clutter up the documents with excessive number of seals, stamps, register numbers.
    The main thing is the signature similar to the sample.
  • A client should be ready to provide on demand bank documents confirming the account’s transaction.
    A Bank is always entitled to demand an explanation of any payment amount. Documentary support of transactions and payments is customary in western countries. A Bank generally explains details of payments. However, if a large amount is transferred, a Bank might ask for supporting contracts and in some cases documents identifying the payee.
  • An important advantage is the knowledge of English 
    Not all banks have Russian-speaking staff. Successful interaction requires that the language of communication was clear to both parties - bank and client. Banks which have Russian-speaking staff are: Baltic banks, many of Cypriot and Swiss banks, banks in other countries oriented to the Russian capital market.
    We also ask our clients to pay special attention to importance of bank specific terms. Wrong understanding of such terms might lead to wrong actions of a client or uncoordinated actions of a bank and, eventually, create distrust. If such cases would repeat, a Bank might terminate operation of the account and the money will be returned to the client without explanation the reason.