Data in a Dash

Article excerpt

Dashboards integrated within business intelligence software give community bankers facts and figures at their fingertips

The demand for data keeps growing-as does the necessity for getting such information, putting it in a standard format and distributing it quickly. Dashboard data-display software provides daily online access to a community bank's total financial picture and gives the entire management team, from the CEO to branch managers, an easy and fast method for obtaining the information needed to make critical decisions affecting profitability and growth.

"It used to be that no one outside the senior management team at community banks saw the reports typically generated for board meetings," says Chris Bledsoe, CEO of Banker's Dashboard, a business intelligence (BI) software provider in Stockbridge, Ga. "Today these institutions recognize the importance of delivering information in a way that everyone at the bank can see and understand."

Rebecca Mollet, Advanced Commercial Banking System, or ACBS, Business Intelligence product manager at financial services technology provider FIS in Jacksonville, Fla., agrees that community banks haven't always given bank managers direct access to the information they need to operate most effectively and efficiently, but says they will have to do so. "Their entire business model is going to change based on regulatory form," Mollet says. "Information management is becoming more and more critical every day as a way to centralize and control key metrics."

According to Chris Braccia, director of product management for software provider Harland Financial Solutions in Lake Mary, Fla., using BI software with a dashboard component will be critical for community banks as they execute their business strategy. "When you're entrenched in your day-to-day business, that's all you see," Braccia says. "If you're using BI tools, in an hour or two, you can identify opportunities for organic growth, crossselling and acquisition."

The reporting functions of most BI software tools offer a seemingly endless combination of reports that community banks can run at the individual, product and household level. To use these tools most effectively, you need to know which reports you need most, which staff will use them and how often they will be generated, representatives with service providers say.

Take it from the top: While it often gets relegated to the marketing department, BI is an executive management tool, Braccia says. "Too often banks focus solely on planning at the product level, and they do it in a vacuum," he says. "They need to use BI tools to validate their planning by building in benchmarks for measuring success and reassessing goals."

The executive summary reports that can be generated using Touché Analyzer, the BI solution offered by Harland Financial Solutions, address the growing need and desire for CEOs and CFOs to have data metrics readily available. Most banks have set up their reports to track data over a time period, whether that is month to month or week to week, he says.

The Banker's Dashboard solution was designed for bank CEOs. One of its core functions is providing CEOs with an easy way to obtain high-level information about the bank in critical areas including liquidity, core deposits and loan growth. Another type of report is a net interest margin report, which helps bankers understand their bank's margin performance to date as well as where it's headed. The software breaks the margin down into several components for daily tracking and analysis of key indicators such as cost of funds by branch and core deposit growth by branch.

Most important, Bledsoe notes, these reports are "point-and-click and super simple to use." They have to be or CEOs won't use them. "If CEOs don't embrace and use business intelligence regularly themselves, it will only be used by select folks in the financial and accounting departments," he adds. …