J. McILwee & Associates Leaps Ahead With Automated Processing of Royalties and Residuals

Situational Overview

A leading-edge solution for a top-ranked client

Repeatedly named as a top Hollywood business manager by major entertainment trade publications, John McILwee focuses on the financial well-being of his clients. So it’s not surprising that one of John’s highest priorities is getting earnings into his clients’ bank accounts as quickly and securely as possible.

With that outcome in mind, City National Bank® worked with this prestigious business manager to implement a first-of-its-kind, straight-through processing system for royalty and residual payments.

Client Needs

Payments that are faster, easier and more secure

Film and television residual payments can be a lifeline for entertainment talent, whose earnings tend to fluctuate. Residuals are calculated per showing, per season, resulting in multiple payments over time. For instance, a cable TV series may pay per season, per episode, per run, resulting in dozens to hundreds of payments over time. When payments are made via paper check and sent via the mail, processing them takes hours, and there is always the chance of a payment getting lost. 

As McILwee explained, “Our clients can receive dozens of paper checks each quarter.” These may come from multiple sources, including guilds, unions and studios. Someone at his firm is required to open, scan, record and finally deposit all of them into client accounts.

In addition, paper checks must be mailed to a physical address, which ties employees to an office location. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced offices to close, this became a pressing problem as employees had to make special arrangements to collect checks for processing. Naturally, all of this slows down the time between payments being issued and money being received in his clients’ accounts. For all these reasons and more, McILwee & Associates wanted an automated system that would make payments faster and more secure, while freeing up employee time to spend on bigger-picture needs.

“Even without factoring in lost checks, handling all those paper payments is time-consuming and susceptible to errors.”

John McILwee Founder & CEO J. McILwee & Associates, Inc.

City National's Approach

Entertainment ecosystem: An integration of AgilLink® and Exactuals®

City National was prepared to solve the problem with innovative thinking for the entertainment industry. We created a secure and scalable integration between the bank and two of our software solutions: Exactuals, our global payment solution, and AgilLink, our secure bill pay and accounting solution.

“City National’s AgilLink is designed to meet the specific needs of business managers, enabling firms to scale while adding better controls,” said Verna Grayce Chao, president, AgilLink, and executive vice president, Treasury Management Solutions, City National Bank.

Integration between AgilLink and Exactuals automates the flow of money among payers like entertainment guilds and unions, payment handlers like banks and business managers, and end-talent payees. The result is that clients get paid more quickly and securely than with paper checks, and less time is spent processing residual payments and related documents.

President at AgilLink and executive vice president for Treasury Management Solutions at City National Bank, Verna Grayce Chao explains how AgilLink meets the needs of their clients. “We can now increase the rate of innovation to allow our clients to better meet their rapidly changing business needs.”

With McILwee eager to move forward, City National set to work. One of the great benefits of migrating to cloud-based systems is that we can respond much more quickly to needs that arise during implementation. Our team was able to evaluate the work in progress and make agile adjustments as needed, enabling the integration to be completed smoothly and efficiently. 

Industry-Leading Benefits

Everything happens automatically

By replacing paper checks with AgilLink’s new Exactuals integration, McILwee & Associates immediately increased the efficiency of its payment processing. In addition, the all-digital, cloud-based solution allowed employees to begin working safely from remote locations during the pandemic.

“The new system is an absolute game changer,” said McILwee. “The time savings from direct deposits of checks and transaction recording with the integration has got to be 70% to 80% or more.”

These are some of the many benefits of the AgilLink and Exactuals/ PaymentHub integration:

  • Eliminates tracking down paper checks and invoices
  • Eliminates opening the mail and scanning documents
  • Creates automatic backups of payees’ guild/union e-statements
  • Sends direct deposits to AgilLink and into clients’ bank accounts
  • Streamlines payment flow and back office operations 

Now, McILwee’s clients get paid more quickly and securely. There is no longer a need to log in to each client’s guild, union or other payer account to download PDF statements, then re-upload and attach them to corresponding AgilLink transactions. Instead, statements automatically appear in AgilLink, eliminating manual errors and allowing client accounts to be reconciled far more efficiently.

Along with being paid faster, talent can view payments and statements as they are received. They can also choose to set up access to review all their payment information online, from wherever their busy lives take them.

 “We decided to lead the way with the next generation of cloud-based automation that would allow us to serve our clients better.”

Verna Grayce Chao Executive Vice President Commercial and Consumer Banking Products


Modernizing Business Management

City National works as a consultative ally, providing personalized attention and industry-leading solutions to our clients. The AgilLink and Exactuals/ PaymentHub integration delivers transformative results for business managers by automating a tedious manual process. A hugely significant amount of time is freed up for more value-added activities, such as managing client relationships and growing revenue.


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Exactuals is an RBC company and a wholly-owned subsidiary of City National Bank.

AgilLink is an RBC company and is an affiliate of City National Bank.