Issues : Strategy

Why It’s Hard for Banks to Get Answers From Their Systems


core-7-17-19.pngIt 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.” – Chief operating officer 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.

Systems Designed for Processing Only
Banks in the U.S. 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 Can’t Communicate
During a recent conversion, one of our clients discovered 72 different systems that were connected to their legacy core system. These systems were not well integrated or configured so executives could poll them for an answer. Banks often accumulate these systems as individual departments select solutions that fit 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 would 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 it 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.