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Fintech

Seven signs you need a bank management system

The days of struggling with your core system are over. Modern banks are adopting comprehensive bank management systems to supplement the core and make it easier for all staff members to perform their daily functionsSimply put, a bank management system is an enterprise solution that consolidates information across the bank, then provides workflow and other vertical solutions in a single, intuitive platform. But how does a bank know if they truly need a bank management system? If your bank is guilty of one or more of the following, it’s a good indicator that it’s time to implement one. 

  1. Using Word or Excel to store critical information 

We all use word processors and spreadsheets in our daily jobs. But banks cross a dangerous line when they begin storing critical information in these tools. Examples include using Word or Excel for credit administration “linesheets or loan/asset reviews. Spreadsheets are tempting to use for capturing loan information and calculations that don’t have a home in the core or elsewhere, but they have serious drawbacks that can leave your bank struggling. Modern bank management systems like BankPoint are designed to eliminate the use of spreadsheets for storing critical information off-line. 

  1. Storing files in local drive or shared drive 

Is your bank storing sensitive files in a shared drive, or worse, a local hard drive? By sensitive files, we mean anything containing information on loans, deposits, customers, or transactions, as well as imaged documents. In our analysis of banks’ data storage architecture, it’s common for us to discover files containing sensitive information (especially imaged documents) on shared drives (sometimes labeled “s: drive,” etc.). Why are banks using shared drives to store sensitive data? Usually, because they don’t know where else to put it. That’s one reason bank management systems exist – to provide a home for data and documents that don’t have a natural home elsewhere. 

  1. Renaming files based on date 

When is the last time you opened a spreadsheet containing critical information, then saved it as a different name with the date? This common usage pattern is another warning sign that you are misusing spreadsheetsInformation that changes over time (such as an annual loan review or appraisals) should be managed in a system that is smart enough to manage versions. sound bank management system will have this capability built in. 

  1. Emailing documents for approval 

If your bank is still using email to approve documents, such as risk rating changes, it’s time to considering implementing a bank management system. While email is simple and straight forward, there’s no easy way to see the audit trail in a single location, and there’s no way to guarantee that your credit policy is being followed. By using a bank management system, you can automatically enforce the credit policy via configurable workflows that are repeatable and consistent, while showing the audit trail in a single screen.

  1. Having multiple systems open at once 

Ask yourself, in the course of a day, how many different systems you have open on your desktopIf you find yourself switching between three or more systems regularly, that’s a sign that information is scattered across various systemswell-designed bank management system can significantly minimize the number of systems you have open by consolidating data into a single, easy to read platform, reducing desktop clutter, and streamlining your daily workflow. 

  1. Lots of copy/pasting 

Do you find yourself copying information from one system to another regularly? Perhaps you are copying loan balances from the core system into a spreadsheet or another system. Manual copying and pasting is a reliable indicator that your systems are not well integrated, and a bank management system may be in order. 

  1. Unable to clearly identify the system of record 

Every critical data element should have a single system of record, even though it may appear in multiple systems. Does everyone in the bank know the system of record for appraisals? What about risk ratings? Often the answer is “the core system,” but if these values are being updated and managed outside of the core, there’s a good chance the core is a secondary home that is only updated after the proper signoffs have occurred. Bank management systems with approval workflows and audit trails may be a more appropriate system of record that is controlled and published for all to see (including auditors and examiners).  

While bank management systems are not a panacea for all problems in a bank, they can fill in critical gaps between the core system and other processes. If the warning signs above are prevalent in your bank, we strongly encourage you to explore the adoption of a bank management system like BankPoint. The benefits will far outweigh the associated time and expense for years to come. 

Challenging times, updated processes

In these days of the pandemic, most of us found ourselves working from home. For some this was nothing new – they already worked from home, had worked from home in the past, or occasionally switched between office and home. For others this was a sudden and change of infrastructure and the work culture.

Moving an entire financial institution to work remotely can be a challenge, even with modern technology at our disposal. Information Security plays an important part in daily activities, and one or more traditional brick and mortar environments can facilitate for an easier way to monitor and control sensitive data. Now, having all your staff working for home means additional locations to secure, VPN access to provide, and all the investment, both time and money, that comes with it.

There is also the human aspect, of course. Lending is a traditional industry, where decisions are usually made from personal interactions, in committees and board meetings, and then documented with ink on paper. You may have been forced to find band-aids and workarounds. These workarounds can be observed in the overuse of spreadsheets, e-mails, and imaging systems, which in general means the misuse of those applications.

As infrastructure and work culture changed, so did the processes. New ways to communicate and interact with colleagues, exchange files, make decisions, and store information came up.  More than ever we need to be prepared to access the information electronically and have a way to collaborate remotely. If your bank does not have a solution that allows you to efficiently work and produce from anywhere, it is now time to get one. You want to learn from this experience and be prepared for what comes next.

All systems have gaps – here’s what you can do about it

Every year, hundreds of banks choose new systems to help improve their business operations. Each of these banks typically goes to great lengths to evaluate the new system and vendor, hoping to minimize the risk of a bad implementation or a system that doesn’t fit the bill. But how do banks really know if their evaluation is accurate? How can they be sure the new system will meet their needs?

BankPoint started as a consulting company, and we’ve been putting in banking systems for more than 20 years. In our experience, we’ve never seen a system that didn’t have gaps (a material deficiency in the system that didn’t meet the stated requirements). Furthermore, it’s nearly impossible to fully test a system during vendor demos, or even in a lab environment. Until the system is up and running in production, you won’t know for sure whether it will meet all your needs. There are simply too many variables and too many requirements, some of which have yet to be discovered.

Choosing the Right Vendor

So, what can banks do? How can they choose a system and sign a multi-year contract if they know there will be gaps, and what can they do to close the gaps once identified? The answer lies with the vendor. The evaluation of the vendor is, in many ways, more important than the evaluation of the system itself. Because we know there will be gaps, the vendor must be willing and able to close those gaps. In other words, the vendor must be flexible enough to bend but not break.

When selecting a system, we recommend focusing on two things: requirements fit and vendor flexibility. First, look for 80-90% coverage of your must-have features when evaluating system functionality against your requirements. Why not 100%? Because it’s nearly impossible to find a system that fits 100% of your requirements. Instead, look for a system that largely meets your needs but may require a few alterations. Second, be sure the vendor is flexible enough to adapt the system to your needs. Here’s where you fill in the other 10-20% of the missing requirements. If you choose the right vendor, they will help you fill in those gaps during the implementation process. But how, exactly, will they do that?

Closing Requirements Gaps

Once you’ve identified functional gaps (assuming there is an 80-90% fit in other areas) you should work with your vendor to close those gaps during the implementation using one of the following methods:

  1. Process Change

Often, you may discover that a requirement is not actually a business requirement, but rather a holdover from legacy processes. Many banks suffer from “we’ve always done it this way” syndrome, leading to a list of requirements that are not business requirements, but requirements rooted in the old way of doing things. A good vendor should always ask, “Why?” If you peel the onion on a requirement by asking, “Why is it done that way?”, it should eventually lead to a business need. If one of the answers is “because we’ve always done it that way,” it’s time to re-examine your process. Modern, robust systems will contain a bevy of best practices that you should be looking to adopt. The bank’s processes should strive to adapt to the system’s processes, rather than the other way around. With a little analysis, you may find that some of your requirements are not needed.

  1. Workarounds

For some gaps, workarounds may be sufficient. Work with the vendor to look for ways of meeting your requirements without enhancements. This usually involves adding a few extra steps to a process or utilizing multiple areas of the system to achieve the desired result. In many cases, workarounds can be a valuable approach to resolving system gaps, especially gaps that are not as critical. A good vendor should be able to recommend several workarounds for each requirements gap.

  1. System enhancements

When all else fails, consider system enhancements. If you’ve discovered a critical gap in requirements that can’t be adequately resolved with process change or workarounds, ask the vendor if it would be possible to enhance the system to provide the missing functionality. Depending on the size of the gap, an agile vendor should be able to develop that functionality during the implementation, so the feature is tested and ready before your launch date. If the gap is critical and you’ve discovered it early enough, you can even bake the enhancement into the contract, requiring the vendor to deliver the feature to your satisfaction within some time period, or you can terminate the agreement. Don’t hesitate to hold the vendor accountable for critical system gaps.

Of the three options above, system enhancements are usually the most difficult, depending on the complexity of the enhancement. This is where vendor flexibility comes into play and why the selection of the vendor is so critical. If the vendor is a large company, you may find that they are more rigid. Software changes can be challenging with larger vendors, leading to costly, time-consuming enhancements, or worse, no enhancement at all. If the vendor is a smaller or newer company, they may not have the maturity to develop critical enhancements on the fly. Look for a vendor in the sweet spot: big enough and mature enough to deliver on system enhancements, and agile enough to deliver the enhancements quickly. Talk to the vendor’s references and ask if they were able to deliver on system enhancements.

All systems have gaps. Your goal should be to discover those gaps as quickly as possible during the system evaluation process, or even during the implementation. If you’ve chosen the right vendor, they can help you close those gaps quickly so you can enjoy the benefits of your new system sooner than later.

Five reasons to automate your loan review process

All banks perform loan review. It’s an important part of a bank’s credit risk strategy and is even more critical in times of economic downturn. While some banks outsource their loan review process, others have an internal Loan Review department that is responsible for sampling a portion of the loan portfolio and performing individual reviews on a regular basis. For those banks that choose to perform these reviews themselves, many are still using manual processes that rely on spreadsheets or Word documents to create “line sheets” or other loan review templates. Based on our experience, many banks are still approaching loan review in this cumbersome, outdated manner. Here are 5 reasons banks should consider automating their loan review process with a system like BankPoint:

  1. Integration with the core system

Because loan reviews are performed at a “point in time” for a specific loan, the reviewer needs a snapshot of the loan details for a specific date. Usually, reviews will be performed in batch as for a sampling of loans. Without a loan review system, there is no easy way to populate a review template with the specific data values for the loans under review. Instead, users must hunt for this information within the core system or look it up in older reports. Once the data is identified, it must be manually copy/pasted from the source report to the loan review template. This is a tedious, error prone process that dramatically increases the reviewer’s workload and introduces risk.

Modern loan review systems like BankPoint are integrated with the core system and will automatically populate a loan review template with values from the loan as of the effective date, thereby eliminating manual error and streamlining the loan review process.

  1. Better team collaboration

With a spreadsheet-based process, a single user manages the loan review by editing the spreadsheet and sharing the file when complete. This discourages collaboration and makes it harder for other team members to review their work. With a multi-user loan review system, everyone is singing from the same sheet of music. Modern loan review systems like BankPoint contain online review templates, which contain analysis, narrative, notes, documents, findings, and recommendations. These templates can be seen by the entire team and reviewed as appropriate (with the proper permissions). Furthermore, the loan review manager(s) can see all reviews in a single system with easy drill down capability, so they are better able to oversee the team’s work and ensure adequate progress is being made.

  1. Easier planning

With most loan review systems, all reviews are maintained as part of a plan for a specific period and purpose. For example, “2nd Quarter CRE Loans” could contain a sampling of all commercial real estate loans over a certain dollar value that need reviewed as of June 30th. By capturing all reviews into a single plan, management can review and manage the team workload, assignment, review status, consolidated findings, and more. This allows for better internal planning and executive reporting.

  1. Automated approval workflow

Loan reviews by their nature are subject to review and approval, so most banks will have one or more people that examine the completed review and look for errors or adjustments. Without an automated system, the review process is relegated to paper files with sign-off cover sheets, or some sort of manual email approval process that is difficult to manage and track. With automated solutions like BankPoint, the approval process is built into the system. Once a review is completed and submitted for review, the system automatically routes it to the appropriate person based on the bank’s policies. Everyone can easily see if a review has been approved, where it is in the approval process, and the audit trail of who has approved it along the way.

  1. Reporting

As mentioned in a previous article, spreadsheets have numerous limiting factors, including limiting reporting capabilities. With an automated loan review system, banks can easily report on statistics, trends, next review dates, findings, reviewer and officer performance, and other metrics. This allows the loan review department to identify areas of improvement and become more efficient.

Financial institutions with internal Loan Review departments that are still using a spreadsheet-based approach for loan review are missing an opportunity to improve their process and outcomes by not adopting a modern, streamlined loan review system like BankPoint. In this article we’ve listed just five reasons we think they should consider upgrading. Contact us today to learn more and see how BankPoint can transform the way your loan review team works.

The problem with spreadsheets

Never in human history has such advanced technology been available to so many. We unlock our phones using facial recognition technology, check the weather using our voice, and operate home appliances remotely. With so much incredible technology available to all of us, why are we still relying on old fashioned technology like spreadsheets at the office?

From loan portfolio management to covenant tracking, bankers everywhere are using spreadsheets to track, compile, and organize important data. In our view, this is a serious problem, as spreadsheets can represent a significant threat to your organization. Here are 8 reasons you should ditch spreadsheets and upgrade your software systems to mitigate risk at your bank.

  1. Poor security

Spreadsheets have limited security options, and files can easily be emailed outside the organization. This is a violation of GLBA/NPPI regulations, and we are routinely surprised to receive emails with GLBA data included in attached spreadsheets.

  1. Prone to manual error

Copy and paste issues are a common problem that can lead to material errors in board reports and call reports. And the opportunity for simple mistakes, like deleting partial rows, is extremely dangerous. We’ve seen at least one case where a user deleted information and “shifted cells up”, which then attributed the balances and addresses of accounts to the wrong customers. The bank only realized the problem when they started getting calls from customers complaining about incorrect statements. Not good!

  1. Risk of data loss

Spreadsheets are often stored on a shared drive, or worse, a local hard drive that may not be backed up or properly secured. Bank employees are risking data loss by choosing to store critical information in spreadsheets stored in unmanaged locations.

  1. No access control

Spreadsheets offer few controls on who can read, update, and delete data, compared to a multi-user software system where varying levels of user privileges can be established.

  1. No data versioning

Users can’t easily see prior versions of data without saving multiple dated copies of the same spreadsheet. There’s also no audit trail, so there’s no way to tell what was changed and by whom. This is a common criticism from examiners and auditors.

  1. Single user model

In most spreadsheets, only one user can edit the information at a time, leading to data locking or a “last one wins” model for data entry. This discourages collaboration and again risks data loss.

  1. Data is not easily reportable

It’s difficult to report on data that is buried in spreadsheets. If a spreadsheet is acting as the “system of record” for key data values across the bank, this can present real headaches for enterprise reporting. How many hours are wasted “rolling up” data in spreadsheets for monthly reports?

  1. Data is not easily integrated

Spreadsheets are static and can create “mini-silos” of information that it difficult to share across systems. Poor system integration is a key problem in today’s community banks, and the widespread use of spreadsheets is only compounding the problem.

How to minimize the use of spreadsheets

With all the problems listed above, it’s easy to see why spreadsheets are less than ideal and should be avoided if possible. So, why are they so prevalent in banking today?

For starters, it’s important to recognize that spreadsheets are probably not the first choice for most people. Their use is predicated on the fact that many banking systems are outdated and difficult to use. Because core banking systems can be frustrating and limiting, many bankers feel they have no other option than to use spreadsheets to track and report on critical information. It should be noted that this problem isn’t limited to smaller community banks. In working with larger banks across the country (over $10B), we’re always surprised to see a reliance on spreadsheets.

No matter the size of your organization, the key to avoiding spreadsheets and their related problems is to upgrade your technology stack with more modern solutions. Systems like BankPoint can provide unparalleled data visibility across your organization while providing an outstanding user experience through an intuitive user interface. The result is happy employees that are empowered to do their jobs better and faster.

Spreadsheets can be useful tools for organizing data. But relying on spreadsheets to manage critical data at your bank is a recipe for disaster. By upgrading your software systems, you can help eliminate spreadsheets, thereby minimizing risk and achieving better outcomes for your bank.

Ready to eliminate spreadsheets at your bank? Contact BankPoint or schedule a demo today of our revolutionary bank management system.

Is your banking software vendor truly your partner?

When you purchase a new banking system, you get more than a piece of software. Or at least you should. From training to ongoing support, there’s a tremendous difference between a vendor who sells you a system and a true partner who will work with you to enhance your banking operations. But how do you know which is which? Here are some questions to help you determine if a vendor is just that, a vendor, or if they might represent something more meaningful for your bank.

Do they have real banking expertise?

A software vendor that doesn’t have real-world banking experience will never have the institutional knowledge necessary to act as your true partner. The company may have been founded by a banker, and their salespeople may have some cursory knowledge of how their solution works in a banking environment. But for a real partner, you need to find a vendor that can offer expert insights based on experience. Ask any salespeople or other contacts about their banking background and what they can do to help improve your bank.

Do they want to understand your issues?

A vendor won’t be able to help solve your problems if they aren’t interested in learning what they are. You should be able to get a sense of this early on in the process, especially if you go through a software demonstration. Does the salesperson spend more time talking about features and system capabilities, or do they ask you about your needs first and foremost? A vendor looking to make a sale will talk about their program, while a true partner will take the time to find out what your challenges are and what you really want to know. Look for a vendor who puts your needs above their own and you’ll likely find one who is truly invested in your success.

How quickly do they respond?

If you have a question or need to troubleshoot a problem with your banking system, vendors will show you how much they care about you by the speed of their turnaround time. Any delays could prove costly, and a good partner is one who acts on that immediate need and moves quickly because they care about your business. It can take some companies weeks to fully resolve customer issues, while others respond and are actively working to solve the problem in only a few hours. Go with the software provider who is there for you when you need them most.

Do they go above and beyond?

Sometimes the only way to solve an issue is to go beyond the immediate problem to the underlying causes. For example, you might think you have a process problem when onboarding your treasury management services customers, but it could actually be an issue that requires system automation to fully resolve. A vendor that can identify those issues and give you insights on how to fix them, not merely put a Band-Aid on the problem with a quick workaround, is one worth keeping around. This may mean that the solution your vendor proposes isn’t the easiest or the cheapest one, but this is a good thing. When a vendor is willing to tell you something you may not want to hear, you can be sure they truly want what’s best for your organization.

Do they continue to be there for you?

Once they’ve made the sale, some banking software companies consider the engagement over. Sure, their helpline will be open if you have a problem. But their contact person will seemingly disappear, moving on to new targets as you struggle with implementation and the best way to utilize the software. Instead, find a vendor who will stick with you long after agreements have been signed. They should not only provide training to help facilitate a smooth transition to the new system, but they should also be there for you down the road. When a new software update becomes available, or they release a new version of the system, they should proactively reach out and educate you on the new features, not try to sell you the latest development. Although you won’t know how those interactions will go until after you’ve made your purchase, it pays to evaluate the service you’re getting from your vendors at every stage of your engagement.

Finding a software vendor that you trust enough to consider a partner isn’t always easy. But by looking for some of the characteristics discussed above, you can identify the vendors most likely to be worthy of your trust. From there, you can start building a relationship that will pay dividends now and into the future.

Ready to upgrade your banking systems with the help of a true industry expert? Contact BankPoint or schedule a demo of our powerful bank mangement system today.

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