Kenneth A. Innocenzi, Managing Director
As part of prudent operating practices, financial institutions will engage in periodic reviews of top level priorities including product and service reviews, financial reviews, strategic planning, core system assessments and organizational changes. In addition, they will spend untold amounts of time on compliance-related issues, including responding to audit and regulatory findings, and numerous compliance policies, procedures and training.
An area of organizational development and staff training that can be overlooked, yet is critical to the overall performance of a financial institution is training offered by your core system provider. During a core conversion, we all emphasize core training, but then, our experience is that such core training is not prioritized or distributed consistently throughout the organization. Matter of fact, we have seen all too often knowledge and understanding of the core system capabilities isolated. This can be a devastating opportunity cost.
Core providers typically offer an on-going and robust training curriculum allowing users to take advantage of refresher training on a variety of subjects, and also will provide training on new topics, including system enhancements, upgrades and “super user” training so they can get the most out of the core system. Additionally, most all providers offer to spend time at the institution shadowing the staff in various areas to identify ways to achieve operational efficiencies and improve workflow by more effective use of existing core system features.
It has been our experience that when an institution takes advantage of training provided by their core system provider and makes the commitment to consistently train a wide audience, there is a greater level of proficiency and most often a greater level of organizational efficiency at those institutions. Not to mention a higher level of user satisfaction.
Our professionals have had the opportunity to see first-hand the effects of being committed to the training program of core system providers and also of the complete opposite. Consider the following experience of Ken Innocenzi, Managing Director at The NBS Group.
“Several years ago while working for a de novo bank in formation and following the selection of a core processor, we embarked on the installation process. Several months in advance of the initial opening day, we identified the staffing resource that would attend training and developed a curriculum and a schedule and ensured that all participated.
Opening day was very successful, and the front line staff was able to successfully open new accounts and process teller transactions. Of course, there were some questions, but we were able to work through them very easily. That was the good news.
And now, the not so good news. A complete system upgrade was scheduled the following year, and again, training tools were made available. One of the tools was a snapshot of the Bank’s database that could be used for front line and back office staff to practice conducting transactions. While the back office utilized this tool on a daily basis, one branch office did not, despite being reminded frequently. When conversion day arrived, the staff was not familiar with how to conduct simple transactions and could be heard blaming the system when speaking with the customer. Back office staff were asked to assist with the transactions in the interest of customer service and they spent time assisting with the customers’ transactions and then providing one-on-one training to the branch staff. To say the least, this was an embarrassment to the Bank and never occurred again.”
In other examples, The NBS Group has observed all too often while providing consulting services to institutions that staff had a limited understanding of the core systems. Being familiar with the provider, we offered assistance by instructing front and back office staff in areas where they were not familiar with the process. Improvements in workflows and operating performance were quite noticeable.
After resolving the immediate problems, typically we noted that training was offered by the system provider. It was quite clear that the organization did not buy into the training concept and it showed clearly in staff performance, and in the overall perception of the core provider.
Lastly, we have come upon the circumstance where staff may be getting training, but core provider knowledge, understanding and relationship is isolated with one key person or with a single functional unit. This can and has led to other business units in the organization being less positive or knowledgeable about the core provider.
At NBS we absolutely understand the complexities and challenges of a community based or regional financial institution and the continuing struggle to manage and partner with core system providers. This is often coupled with the issues associated with how to communicate internally and the time to commit to learning system capabilities. It is our finding that the growing importance of driving increased efficiency increases the partnership required with your core and other major technology providers. Continuing your investment of management and staff time in being fully knowledgeable of the core system’s capabilities has substantial benefits that will accrete to near term improved performance.
In summary, a well-trained staff is a crucial element for providing superior customer service. The better trained your staff, the more they will utilize the core system to its fullest. Your organization will be better connected with the core provider and there will be a greater understanding of the functionality and efficiencies of the core system, so you win, the core wins, and most importantly, the customer wins.
Ken Innocenzi is Managing Director at The NBS Group and has over 25 years of experience in the banking and financial services industry with a wide array of experience, including Compliance, Retail Banking, Operations, Technology Implementation and Vendor Management. If you would like more information or are interested in having The NBS Group assess your core vendor training, operating efficiency and overall performance, contact Ken at firstname.lastname@example.org.