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In order to understand how to speed up exams, it’s important to first acknowledge how tedious and outdated the current process can be.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Why are banks still following this outdated process?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.
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.