In a move to improve and round out its cash management services offerings, Chicago's Continental Bank is in the first stages of installing a new account reconciliation system.

The system is called the Account Reconciliation Plan. It is being developed in-house in coordination with Information Software Solutions Corp., a White Plains, N.Y.-based subsidiary of International Business Machines Corp.

The system conversion is slated to start in September and will be completed by January. The reconciliation system will run on a local area network serving 25 internal workstations.

"Corporate treasurers and controllers are under increasing pressure to close their books quickly," said Rod Francis, a vice president and product manager at $22.7 billionasset Continental. "They want tighter controls and faster reports. This new system is designed to meet their needs."

Continental provides cash management services to more than 3,000 corporate customers.

Mr. Francis said most banks deliver account reports five to 10 days after a request. The new system will cut that to one to five days, he said.

The system will also record automated clearing house transactions, wire transfers, and other activity and accommodate a wide range of customer input and output requirements.

"Nothing irritates a customer more than when they are forced to provide information to a bank 'the bank's way,'" said Mr. Francis. "We can receive their uploads on magnetic tape, disk, or in electronic format."

The system will also have the capacity to accept and store a client's customer information - making it easier for the bank to generate a wider range of reports.

"Historically, customers would send us check numbers and dates, and we would perform account reconciliation," said Mr. Francis. "Now, we'll accept information like Social Security number, address, and name. With additional data, we can 'slice and dice' report information any number of ways."

The new reconciliation system will support a range of Continental cash management offerings, including the Positive Pay service that enables corporate customers to give Continental copies of their check registers. That way, the bank can check draft entries against checks that are presented for payment.

The system will also support Continental's ThruCheck program in which the bank transmits check microline information from the Federal Reserve to bank corporate customers. Ms. Sullivan is a freelance writer based in New York.

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