This article will focus on Cloud-based Call Report Automation for Banks.
Why does going to the dentist always seem stressful? I have been going to the same dentist for over twenty years. He has seen my children grow up. He has seen me change jobs a couple of times. My wife has even joined his team in a fund raiser or two. You would think that every time I see him, a warm fuzzy feeling would overcome my emotions.
The problem is that each time I see him, my palms get sweaty, my sinuses swell up, and my blood pressure elevates. Yes, he has drilled a few holes, replaced a crown or two, and taken expensive x-rays in the past. But for the most part, our visits have gone smoothly. It just seems that every time I see my dentist, I always get stressed out for no real reason.
Let’s face it, filling out the quarterly Call Reports for the FDIC can be just as stressful if not more. It has to be done periodically so the FDIC can monitor results. Every once in a while, some corrective behavior needs to take place. But for the most part, the filings are a non-event other than just taking up your precious time.
The purpose of the Call Reports – Investopedia defines the Call Report as follows:
A report that must be filed by all regulated financial institutions in the U.S. on a quarterly basis and contains financial information about the banks. Banks are required to file no later than 30 days after the end of each quarter. The report is officially known as the Report of Condition and Income for banks and Thrift Financial Report for Thrifts.
The Call Report collects such basic financial information as the bank’s balance sheet and income statement. Reports are required to be submitted to the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC). The FFIEC is an inter-agency entity and coordinates between the Federal Reserve, the FDIC and the Office of Thrift Supervision. Banks and Thrifts must use the standardized forms provided by the FFIEC to submit their data and each Call Report is audited by an FDIC analyst for errors and audit flags. These reports are available to the public on the FDIC website.
A sampling of the Report of Income (RI) schedules include:
- RI—Income statement
- RI-A—Changes in bank equity capital
- RI-B—Charge-offs and recoveries on loans and leases and changes in allowance for loan and lease losses
Some of the Report of Condition (RC) schedules are:
- RC—Balance sheet
- RC-A—Cash and balances due from depository institutions
- RC-C, Part I—Loans and leases
- RC-E—Deposit liabilities
Schedules, schedules, and more schedules! – Each report taken by itself is pretty straightforward. Using the RI-1 report from above as an example, we are to analyze the interest income of the bank in certain categories. Most of this data will come from your general ledger. If your general ledger does not provide the proper categories, you will need to get data from you loan application.
Therein lies the heartache! While each schedule is fairly simple, data may come from several different sources. Finding the data is very time consuming. The stress comes from having to have all the schedules filled out within 30 days of quarter-end. That is on top of all the board and management reports that have to be worked on as well.
You can always tell when quarter-end is approaching for your accountants when they start walking around the office with wet hands, clogged noses, and short tempers. They best way to com them down and make life easy for them is to invest in a Cloud-based Call Report automation for Banks solution.
Why is Cloud part of the solution? – Cloud-based solutions are making lives so much easier for so many people. Salesforce.com published an article that lists many of the benefits for going Cloud as follows:
- Flexibility – Cloud services are there when you need them. Whether it is for daily reporting or once a quarter, it there and ready when you are and gives you the flexibility to scale up or down very quickly.
- Disaster recovery – Losing all of your work due to a hard drive crash is the quickest way to give your accountants a cardiac arrest. Cloud services routinely back up everything so your accountant can sleep well at night.
- Automatic software updates – Do you want your accountants worrying about software updates? Your Cloud provider keeps your reporting tools current for you.
- Capital-expenditure Free – With Cloud, there are no bug upfront expenditures. You simply rent as you go (SaaS).
- Increased collaboration – Many of the RI and RC schedules require input from multiple departments such as credit administration, collections, and accounting. Cloud allows for all of them to collaborate on the same documents without having to e-mail everybody and worrying about version control.
- Work from anywhere – With Cloud, you can even work from home in your pajamas! Al you need is internet access.
- Security – Losing laptops and data breaches cost companies huge sums of money. Cloud providers already spend mass amounts money on the latest and greatest data security tools. Much more than what any one bank can afford. If your accountant loses their laptop, who cares. All their work is still safe and secure on the Cloud.
Okay, what else is needed for success? – In addition to Cloud, you will need a few more components to make life easier for your accountants. The key pieces they will need are:
- Excel-based report writer – I have been implementing Microsoft Excel automation tools for several years now and occasionally I will run into an organization where the IT department is on a mission to eliminate Excel. What is funny is that I will talk to the accountants separately and they always tell me that after IT leaves the room, they will go into a closet and pull out Excel to prepare their reports. Accountants love Excel and that is not going to change anytime soon. So the solution better use an Excel add-in as its report writer or the accountants will not use it.
- Data warehouse – Data for the Call Reports comes from applications that include General Ledger, Loans, Deposits, Collections, Securities, and others. Putting all the data into one location will drastically cut down on the time needed for data gathering and analysis. Using a data warehouse to accomplish goal is a must.
- Ability to store multiple charts of accounts – One of the nice things about the RI and RC schedules is that they label each of the row inputs with quasi account numbers. Using the RI schedule above, you can see the RAID numbers used for each of the line items. In order to automate your schedules, your solution will need the ability to create multiple charts of accounts on the same data. For example, you GL account numbers for interest income will need the alternate RAID account ID’s for effective reporting. Same thing would apply for category codes in your loan trial having the alternate Call Reports codes.
Who can help – It terms of providing Data Warehouses, Cognos by IBM, OBIEE by Oracle, BusinessObjects by SAP, and BI360 by Solver are all excellent solutions. All of these solutions come in on-premise or Cloud options. They each have report writers that will export to Excel or better; they have Excel add-ins connecting Excel directly to their databases. As far as using Excel as the front-end report writer, BI360 is probably the easiest to use.
For multiple charts of accounts, each of the solutions allow for customized cross-walk tables that can be added to the data warehouse. If you want this to be done seamlessly, you would probably have to invest in the GL specific solutions offered by IBM, Oracle, and SAP such as TM1, Hyperion, and BPC respectively. The alternate chart of accounts option, however, is native to BI360.
If you want a modern, fairly inexpensive solution be up and running quickly, BI360 might be your best bet. BI360 is tool that many companies are using to enable world-class decision-making by providing a complete Excel- and web-based suite, comprised of Reporting and Budgeting, Dashboards and a pre-configured Data Warehouse. Help lower your accountants’ stress levels by making their Call Reporting process much simpler and easier by investing in a Cloud-based Call Report automation for Banks solution today. Solver, Inc. is happy to answer any questions and review BI360’s easy-to-use, Excel-based budgeting and reporting solution for banking users. If you are looking to take your love affair with Excel to the Cloud, choose the right tool that will meet your bank’s needs today.