Banking Systems

How banks can streamline regulatory exams

As all bankers know, bank exams are an unwelcome but necessary part of life. As a friend of mine who owned a bank once said, “It comes with the dinner.” When teams of regulators descend on your bank, it can create a serious disruption in your operation and cause no small amount of stress for all parties involved. Most bankers just want the regulators to leave as quickly as possible so they can get back to normal. By upgrading your technology, you may be able to do just that. Here’s how you can streamline the exam process and help your bank come through exams with flying colors. 

The challenge with exams 

In order to understand how to speed up exams, it’s important to first acknowledge how tedious and outdated the current process can be. In our experience, many banks are still putting regulators in a conference room full of paper documents. When an examiner can’t find what they need in those files, they turn to the bank with questions, sending bank employees scrambling. This Q&A process can take days or weeks, and the entire experience is not only stressful, but it costs your bank precious time and resources while simultaneously disrupting normal operations. 

Why are banks still following this outdated process? Partially because that’s how they’ve always done it, but also because they don’t see another option. Thankfully, there is a better answer. With the right software, you can speed up the exam process and limit headaches for both you and examiners. 

Streamlining exams 

To streamline the exam process, consider adding software like BankPoint to your organization. BankPoint integrates with your core banking system and includes a comprehensive set of tools that can speed up exams by making information more accessible to examiners. 

In one case study, FDIC examiners used BankPoint’s interface from their FDIC offices to review the bank’s loan portfolio and imaged documents, thereby eliminating paper files and making the entire process easier and more comfortable. Because regulators can’t access a bank’s network directly, any electronic review system must be accessible remotely. With BankPoint, examiners never have to leave their office and can log in using a user profile that limits them to the specific information they need. Instead of spending days preparing paper files for review, the bank can simply create an electronic portfolio within BankPoint that is ready for access by examiners. 

By bringing the exam process into the digital age, your employees can focus on their normal tasks and you can save valuable time and resources. We talked to one FDIC lead examiner-in-charge who used BankPoint to complete an exam, who said they did a week’s worth of work in a single day. 

“It’s the easiest system I’ve used in my 30 years of examining banks,” the examiner said. 

The benefits of faster exams 

The benefits of using software like BankPoint are twofold. First, it helps examiners do their jobs quicker, so they can be out of your hair faster. Second, being able to answer an examiner’s questions quickly and easily inspires confidence that your bank is being well managed. This may be the biggest benefit of all. Examiners are there to find problems. If you can’t answer their questions, that’s not good. If you don’t even know where to find the answers, that’s worse. By demonstrating your ability to quickly identify and respond to questions with a system like BankPoint, you can show examiners that you are on top of your game. 

Here’s another thing to consider: As much as you don’t want examiners in your office, they likely don’t want to be there any longer than they have to. Examiners are human after all, and nobody wants to spend weeks sitting in a conference room poring over paper documents. If you can minimize the pain and make their jobs easier, it may not shield you from criticism, but it can make the experience more pleasant for everyone involved. Considering the power that examiners have over your bank, it’s never a bad idea to make their lives a little more comfortable. 

Exams and audits are a necessary part of the banking industry. But with the right technology, you can shorten the process, limit risk, and get your banking operation back to business as usual. 

Tired of the burden the exam process puts on your bank? Contact BankPoint or schedule a demo today to see how our powerful software solution can limit risk and streamline exams for your organization. 

Why it’s important to invest in the employee user experience

banking software

With digital banking now a necessity, many banks have made large investments in their consumer-facing apps and websites. Along with enhanced security, the goal is almost always to improve the user experience, commonly referred to as UX. This emphasis on high-quality UX has led to intuitive designs, innovative features and pleasing aesthetics for digital banking platforms. Unfortunately, this is not the case with many legacy banking systems.

Over the last 20 years, we’ve consistently heard from bankers who are frustrated by the clunky, outdated nature of their software systems. The consensus is that they’re hard to use, aren’t intuitive and simply aren’t designed for the needs of modern banking. Here’s why you should start treating employees like customers and invest in better UX for your bank management systems.

Lost productivity

The biggest problem with bad UX in employee-facing systems is a loss of productivity. When you use a poorly designed system, something that should take two or three clicks can instead take 10 clicks and multiple screens. A 10-second process can now take more than a minute. If you add that up over days, weeks or even years, it’s easy to see how big of an impact bad UX can have on productivity. By upgrading your system to a platform with better UX, employees can work faster, accomplish more and ultimately produce better results for your bank.

Increased risk

Because core banking systems are often so difficult to use, bankers tend to avoid them or only use them as a last resort. Instead, they’ll often turn to spreadsheets or other manual processes to manage their work. But spreadsheets come with their own set of problems. Among other things, they aren’t automatically updated, can easily become corrupted or deleted, and are subject to copy/paste errors. This means stakeholders could be making decisions based on incomplete or outdated data, putting your bank’s future in jeopardy.

There are other problems that can increase risk as well. If credit administrators can’t easily see all pertinent information about a loan in one place, they are more likely to miss important risk indicators. In situations like these, high-quality UX becomes more than a trendy buzzword. It becomes a real solution for mitigating risk for your bank.

Frustrated employees

Poorly designed banking software can create real frustration for those employees who live in these systems every day. The slow, tedious processes can take a toll on an employee’s psyche and negatively impact their job satisfaction. More than once, we’ve heard from bankers who have left a bank due in part to their frustration with difficult systems. Higher turnover rates create disruption in your operation and will inevitably prove costly to your organization.

Good UX, on the other hand, leads to happy employees, and happy employees are more productive and more likely to remain loyal to the bank. This has a ripple effect on your company culture, helping you cultivate an environment where people actually want to work. Investing in better systems shows employees that you value their efforts and can help improve retention while making everyone’s job a little bit more enjoyable.

Great UX isn’t easy. It’s both art and science. It’s about simplicity, visual appeal and an intuitive process. And it’s not as simple as adding new screens on top of a legacy core. To truly make a system user friendly, you need to consider UX from the earliest stages of the system’s design. The architects of these systems need to understand how bankers work, what they need and what will make their lives easier. By using a software solution designed and built by people who have real experience in the banking industry, you can start delivering a better user experience for your employees and produce significant benefits for your organization.

Want to empower your employees with a system they’ll actually enjoy using? Contact BankPoint or schedule a demo to see how our powerful bank management software, designed by banking experts, can help your team do its best work.

Why credit administration shouldn’t be ignored

Not long ago, I was talking to the CEO of a mid-sized bank, and I asked him how he makes funding decisions when looking to add new technology or software systems. He told me that when it comes to spending money on software, he only listens to two people: 1) the CEOs of other banks, and 2) “Whatever my chief lending officer says.”

The question that immediately popped into my head was, “Why doesn’t the chief credit officer have a say?”

This situation is not unique. For a long time, credit administration has taken somewhat of a back seat when it comes to resource prioritization within banks. But this mindset can be dangerous; if you don’t give credit administrators the budget they need, it can come back to bite you in a number of ways. Here’s why bankers would be wise to take a second look at how they allocate resources and why credit administration deserves to be a bigger priority.

The resource disparity

It’s not hard to understand why credit administration can sometimes get overlooked. The lending side of the house gets the most investment because they are the ones bringing in the revenue. When push comes to shove, the money makers are the ones who will receive the most attention.

Bank CEOs usually understand the importance of managing the loan portfolio. So, it’s not as if credit administrators have been completely forgotten. They just don’t get the funding priority, while it often feels like the lending team has a blank check. In our view, credit administration is just as important as loan production, and closing the resource gap can help decrease risk and increase efficiency for your bank.

Limiting credit risk

What’s the biggest reason banks should invest more in their credit administration department? Risk mitigation. When credit administration systems are ignored, spreadsheets can run wild. This opens the door to numerous risks and errors, including criticism from auditors and examiners.

Additionally, outdated systems can open you up to risk because administrators are unable to gather and analyze data in a coherent way. They are left using multiple systems and spreadsheets to get a complete view of a loan, and this fragmented process makes it easier to miss important risk indicators. The nature of a credit administrator’s job requires them to have powerful tools that increase visibility, not limit it. To mitigate risk, banks should invest in systems that make it easier for credit administrators to see the complete picture in one place.

Increasing operational efficiency

Another reason to invest in your credit administration is to improve operational efficiency for your employees. When credit administrators are forced to use clunky, outdated systems, they can’t access important information in a succinct way. Fumbling through multiple systems and screens to find key data points increases the time it takes to perform even the most routine tasks. Performing a simple data extraction will often involve IT, and now you’ve got multiple employees wasting time. What could be a simple and straightforward loan review process is now a slow, cumbersome and ultimately expensive process.

Outdated software can also have a negative impact on your team’s overall job satisfaction. Poorly designed systems can be frustrating to use, and if credit administrators see other departments getting shiny new systems, they can feel like they aren’t valued by the organization. This hurts your company culture and could lead to costly turnover down the road. By investing in new software and giving credit administrators tools that make their jobs faster and easier, banks are demonstrating their support, keeping employees happy and improving the efficiency of their work, all of which leads to improved profitability for the bank.

Credit administration and loan production are two sides of the same coin. But for too long, resources have been weighted significantly toward the lenders. It’s time for a change. By reassessing how you support your credit administration team, you can mitigate risk, improve operations and ultimately save your bank money.

Want to empower your credit administration department to do their best work? Contact BankPoint or schedule a demo to see how our comprehensive bank management solution can drive efficiency and mitigate risk for your organization.

Why it’s so hard for banks to get answers from their systems

It starts with a simple question from a director or regulator about the bank’s loans, deposits or customers.  It should be easy to answer, but for some reason, it takes days or weeks to get the information.

The struggle of bank executives to pull answers from their core systems has been on my mind lately, so I asked a few how often they encounter this problem:

“Just recently, our examiners asked for a detailed listing showing applicable data around brokered, listing service and money desk deposits. I needed a way to get the answers quickly.”
– COO at a Texas bank, $4 billion in assets

“It’s definitely a pain point for us. We spend so much time assembling data to get basic intelligence about our business activities; those delays add up in terms of delayed decision making. We want to make faster, more informed decisions.”
CEO at a Missouri Bank, $2 billion in assets

It has always been surprising to me that it is so difficult for executives to answer basic questions using their systems. The process to extract this information is often manual and painfully slow, involving subordinates who push down the request to their subordinates and the manual aggregation of data from various systems and even paper files. The actual question can take days or weeks to get answered.

In our experience, bankers are hampered by three big problems. Here’s what they can do about them:

Core systems designed for processing, not questions

Banks in the US live and die with their core, but these systems were designed for processing, not reporting. While the core vendors often supply reporting and business intelligence tools, they may not include or store information from other systems or providers. Ease of use can also be a problem; many systems require someone with technical know-how to coax out the answers so they can be manually merged with results from other systems. To fix this, banks should consider implementing a simple enterprise reporting solution that consolidates information from multiple systems, including the core.

Disparate systems don’t talk to each other

One of our clients recently identified 72 different systems that were connected to their legacy core system during a conversion. These systems were not well integrated or configured so that executives could poll them for an answer. Banks often accumulate these systems as individual departments select solutions that fits their specific needs, such as loan review, credit administration or lending. But this creates massive information redundancy, which flourishes because no one is charged with addressing this holistically.

To help remedy this problem, banks should consider hiring a solution architect to analyze their existing systems for redundancies,  and then craft a roadmap for eliminating and consolidating systems. A smart workaround at banks where a full-time systems architect may not be practical might be to select and implement a system that has built-in best practices. These systems can’t eliminate all the redundancies but can address them by integrating different systems and clearly identifying the systems of record for critical business information.

Failed system implementations

Vendors are good at selling software with slick demonstrations that seem easy to use. But many bankers have experienced failed implementations, which can happen when vendors are more focused on setup and configuration and less on the adoption process. Vendors need to serve as true partners for clients, guiding them through the mine fields and providing solutions when issues arise.

That puts the onus on bank executives when it comes to vendor selection. Bankers need to consider a vendor’s willingness and ability to be a true consulting partner, and how they will work to understand a bank’s business and incorporate its unique needs into their system.

Implementing a solution that can seamlessly generate answers to bankers’ questions can be a sizable undertaking, but banks can make vast improvements by implementing a consolidated reporting solution, eliminating redundancies across systems and selecting vendors that are known for their ability to partner with clients.

Want to get more from your core banking system? Contact BankPoint today to schedule a demo of our powerful bank management solution.

How your core banking system is holding you back

Core systems are the backbone of the banking industry, as most banks simply couldn’t function without them. But as many bankers know, these systems are not without their flaws. When it comes to lending, core systems were largely designed for servicing activities, not for credit administration, portfolio management or other fundamental lending functions. Additionally, core systems are often difficult to use and lack the architecture to make data easily accessible. Ultimately, these deficiencies in your core mean your bank likely isn’t as efficient or as profitable as it could be. Here are just some of the ways your core system may be holding you back, and what you can do to improve operational efficiency at your bank.

Lack of visibility for credit administrators

Credit administrators are on the frontlines in protecting your bank against risk. But in order to do their jobs efficiently and effectively, they need strong visibility into loan data. Unfortunately, core banking systems weren’t designed for this purpose, and as such, the data that credit administrators need can be spread out across your organization’s digital landscape. Credit administrators may have to access multiple systems and navigate multiple core system screens to gather all the information they need. This slows down their processes and ultimately means they’re less productive than they could be.

But there’s perhaps a bigger concern. When credit administrators can’t easily see all loan information, they’re more likely to miss early warning signs of bad loans. This increases risk for your entire organization.

Hidden information for executives

For bank leadership to make smart decisions that will affect the future of the bank, they need strong visibility into their portfolios. But this is often easier said than done. Core systems are notoriously difficult to use, especially for those that are not working in the system on a daily basis. Because of this, it’s rare for senior executives to utilize the core to access information. Furthermore, in most banks, critical information is trapped within silos outside of the core, which can make it extremely difficult to assemble the types of reports executives need. In some cases, it can take days to compile reports, with employees spending a significant portion of their time just tracking down data. In situations like these, you’re not only experiencing delays, you’re wasting resources.

Bad UX slows productivity, creates frustration

Ask any frontline bank employee and they’ll likely tell you: core banking systems are difficult to use. Some of the most commonly used systems were originally built more than thirty years ago, and although they’ve been updated over the years, the updates are akin to throwing a new coat of paint on a 100-year-old house. It may technically be an improvement, but the underlying outdated architecture is still going to cause problems.

In short, most core banking systems simply weren’t designed with modern user experience or “UX” best practices. This means it takes longer for your employees to complete routine tasks, reducing your overall efficiency. Unintuitive systems can also lead to frustration for team members that may ultimately prove costly to your bank.

It’s safe to assume that the systems bankers use every day will have some bearing on their attitude toward their job. If the software is difficult and frustrating, they’ll be frustrated with their job as a whole and may be more likely to look for work elsewhere. Providing more intuitive, easier-to-use systems can increase job satisfaction and decrease turnover, saving your bank money.

Too many spreadsheets

What do you get when you combine poor system UX with cumbersome data silos? Spreadsheets.

For years, bankers have been using spreadsheets as a workaround to make up for deficiencies in their core systems. It’s not uncommon to see spreadsheets being used for foundational activities such as covenant trackingloan portfolio management, reporting and more. But while spreadsheets may offer temporary solutions, they also present new problems.

Spreadsheets aren’t dynamic and don’t connect directly to the core system, meaning the information they contain may not be complete or current. There’s no audit control to track changes, there can be formula errors, and they don’t serve as the single source of truth for your operation. And of course, spreadsheets can be easily deleted or corrupted, putting valuable company data at risk.

But perhaps the biggest danger is that executives could be making business decisions based on inaccurate information caused by copy/paste errors, bad formulas, or other problems common to spreadsheets. If your bank is relying heavily on spreadsheets, it may be a sign that you need to invest in an additional layer of functionality for your core system.

Disruptive FDIC audits

As unpleasant as they may be, FDIC audits are a necessary part of the banking industry. The process can be disruptive, and most bankers want audits finished as quickly as possible. But once again, your core system may be holding you back. That’s because the same issues that hamper efficiency for your employees can also create headaches for FDIC examiners.

Regulators typically ask to see a wide variety of information, particularly when reviewing your loan portfolio. But if you can’t quickly retrieve the information they need because of data silos and difficulty using your core, examiners will, by necessity, be in your offices longer. This creates additional disruption to your normal operations.

How to improve your banking operations

Now that we’ve outlined some of the problems with core banking systems, it’s time to talk solutions. Because core systems are so integrated into every aspect of your banking operations, we know they’re here to stay. But by overlaying the core with a more modern solution, you can hide many of the most frustrating aspects of your core.

Consider a solution like BankPoint that can help optimize processes throughout your entire banking operation. BankPoint is an intuitive platform that enhances your core system and provides a single point of entry for all loans, customers, deposits, documents and more. The enhanced user experience will improve productivity and can contribute to a culture change among your employees.

By addressing all areas of your banking processes, a powerful solution like BankPoint can help:

  • Improve efficiency for all employees by making key data more accessible
  • Streamline operations with easy-to-use workflows
  • Increase productivity and improve employee job satisfaction with a beautiful user experience
  • Eliminate spreadsheets and create a single source of truth throughout your organization
  • Reduce the time it takes for FDIC investigators to complete exams

Core banking systems are supposed to automate banks. But in reality, many banks are still managing operations in a very manual way. From problematic spreadsheets to the time it takes to produce actionable reports, the negative effects of aging core systems are likely evident throughout your organization.

To streamline operations, you need better technology. By implementing solutions like BankPoint, you can improve efficiency for both leadership and frontline employees, while reducing risk, increasing employee satisfaction, and ultimately improving profitability for your bank.

Want to get more from your core banking system? Contact BankPoint today to schedule a demo of our powerful bank management solution.

BankPoint announces release of new Treasury Pipeline solution for banks

Treasury pipeline solutions

MCKINNEY, TexasAug. 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — BankPoint, a leading provider of enterprise banking software, announces the release of a new Treasury Pipeline solution for banks.

“Today, we are excited to announce the release of the BankPoint Treasury Pipeline solution, the latest addition to the BankPoint Enterprise Bank Management System,” said Tom Heruska, CEO of BankPoint.

The BankPoint Treasury Pipeline solution streamlines the time-consuming process of selling, approving, and configuring new treasury services for business customers.

“It’s a real problem for many banks,” said Heruska. Fulfilling a new Treasury service request, such as a request for ACH or Remote Deposit services, typically requires the coordination of multiple people within the bank as well as the end customer. When people are spread across different departments or geographic areas, the time taken to close a new treasury sale can be significantly delayed, leading to lost sales and customer frustration.

“If you’ve got dozens or hundreds of services in the queue, it can quickly become overwhelming,” said Heruska.

BankPoint worked closely with TBK Bank in Dallas to design an intuitive and robust solution that met the bank’s growing Treasury department’s needs. “The system is very simple and easy for our team to use,” said Angela Duwe, SVP of Treasury Management at TBK Bank. “I have people across five states and it’s given them the ability to easily manage the new client on-boarding experience from wherever they are. It’s improving our time to revenue because we can on-board faster.”

The BankPoint Treasury Pipeline brings together a sophisticated workflow engine, electronic approvals, comprehensive task management, and document eSignatures. All of these features work together to remove friction points in the treasury fulfillment process, which allows the bank to close deals faster and keep everyone on the same page.

“The eSign feature has been a game-changer,” said Heruska. “We’ve integrated seamlessly with HelloSign, an award-winning eSign solution, to streamline the document signature process from BankPoint directly to the customer’s inbox. What used to take days can now take hours or minutes.”

Heruska said the solution is already making a big difference for BankPoint customers. “We’re seeing dramatic improvements in throughput for our clients and are excited about bringing the solution to the banking market nationwide.”

BankPoint provides fintech solutions for banks and non-bank lenders throughout the U.S, Europe, and Asia. The company is based in McKinney, Texas.

Want to empower your employees with a system they’ll actually enjoy using? Contact BankPoint or schedule a demo to see how our powerful bank management software, designed by banking experts, can help your team do its best work.

Source CISION PR Newswire