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Minnesota based Ideal Credit Union wanted to automate and enhance its financial reporting. By aligning with BankBI Ideal managed to harness new technology to both automate & improve financial reporting whilst reducing risks in the process.
Dennis R. Bauer, EVP and Chief Financial Officer at Ideal explains: “We have about US$700 million in assets with around 50,000 members. What we really wanted to do was move away from Excel-based reporting and move instead to something more automated. We were finding that if someone had left the office, for example, then we may not be able to run a report we required. We also needed to do away with manual adjustments which are complicated, high risk and just not operationally efficient.”
“We’d been chatting to OnApproach about how we needed to change things; eliminate risk and add efficiency via automation. They introduced us to BankBI - one of their partners. It was good to find a partner via someone we already worked with – the data warehouse – it meant that change was minimal. We had a trustworthy recommendation when it came to using BankBI and it meant that the three of us were more closely aligned when it came to actually getting down to business,” says Bauer.
Once the introductions were done the decision was taken to first try BankBI to see how things went. “We needed to know that BankBI could achieve our objectives by streamlining our processes and provide us with the accuracy and automation that we needed,” says Bauer.
“We basically provided the information and the data – maybe two months’ worth - and they took that and returned it to us in a format that was easy to understand as it used our own terminology and organisational structure. We knew instantly what we were looking at when it came back.”
Dennis R. Bauer
"Indeed during this process BankBI worked to map and mimic our chart of accounts exactly as we would produce in-house and then present it back in dashboards and reports that were easy to consume in terms of both its appearance and content. The fact that BankBI was able to replicate what we needed rather than having to change everything was a major plus."
Once that was done then robust foundations were in place to support the transformation of daily data.
“What was striking about initial setup was that we found it so easy to organise it on either a top level, trend-based appearance or in a more granular way where we could dig down and see loan portfolios and subsets of those portfolios. We also really liked both the professional way it looked and felt. BankBI had mapped and recorded our data and come back with something that looked and felt much better format wise but that we could still consume and understand,” says Bauer.
BankBI received a resounding ‘yes’ from the board members and the asset & liability committee and from there the real work began.
Once Ideal and BankBI got into the actual production environment there was closer alignment with the teams to make sure that the correct data - from balance sheet to yields to margins and budget forecasting - was collected correctly in the first place before it went into BankBI’s systems.
“We also worked to make sure that our daily dashboard could be customised for us so that each user can see what is relevant and at the level that they need- be that top line trend to granular and in depth,” Bauer says.
“Again we were very happy with what came back- it wasn’t just the functions that pleased us it was the way in which the data is presented. It’s so easy to consume no matter how granular the detail is – this is the real value add we think,”
Dennis R. Bauer
The KPI analysis has been singled out for special praise.
Bauer comments: “With this we can click on the asset of choice and the system breaks it down into various categories within that asset such as loans, investments etc. The great thing about this is that we can drill down as far as we like but no matter how far down you go the format is still very easy on the eye and instantly consumable.
“For example when we are comparing different time periods within our financials or looking at things like ratios, yields or margins- then those things can get quite complicated. But the way the system is set up means that the presentation is impeccable. Drilling below that level when we look at cash positions we need to know quickly how things look - the format is always easy to consume – we know just by looking at the screen where we are up to no matter what the level of granularity.”
On the basis of this successful transformation for financial reporting Ideal also decided to revamp its board pack using BankBI.
“This is a 30 page document that we present to the board each month and it has various levels of detail. We need to meet the needs of the various board members and be able to go from at a glance oversight to in-depth detail within our various portfolios. The look and feel of it is very important too – it needs to be easy to consume,” says Bauer.
“We were using another provider to do this but as we had already replaced our financial package decided to run BankBI and the previous provider together for a while to see which people preferred,” says Bauer.
This was largely a case of fine tuning an automated feed but again, the look and feel of the end product needs to be bespoke in order to meet the needs of the board as a collective and as individuals.
“The can-do attitude of BankBI stood out here. We were open to ideas and they really worked with us to make sure that the end product was the best it can be. We are very happy with the result.”
Dennis R. Bauer
Bauer says that the next step in Ideal’s technological transformation will be to look at the BankBI loan and deposit reporting. “This is something that is currently carried out using Excel. But there’s just no room for the errors that Excel can throw up. It’s on its way out.”
Consequently the aim is to do something similar to that done with the financial reporting. “We know with BankBI that we will be able to get to a point where we have both financial and loan & deposit analysis delivered in an automated, efficient way with various levels of granularity in an easy to consume and attractive format,” he says.