Does Your Overdraft Payment Program Have Exclusion Creep?

For the past 27 years Strunk has been the leading provider of formal overdraft payment programs to financial institutions across the country. Many of these programs were put in place in the early to mid 2000’s, well before Regulation E changed the overdraft landscape in 2010.

Some financial institutions have let their programs die and others have put them on the back shelf as fee income derived from the service has gone down. Others continue to wonder what they can do to revitalize their 10-20 year old program.

So, what has happened? In virtually all financial institutions, the number of consumers participating in the formal overdraft program has dropped significantly. For one reason or another, the account holder has been taken out of the formal overdraft payment program. Strunk calls this “Exclusion Creep”. Virtually all of our 1,800 clients had 90%+ participation when the program was implemented but many institutions have 65-75% of their accounts in the program today.

Managing this is paramount to providing a good service to all of your customers and to maximizing fee income. Take a look at your consumer checking accounts and see if they have an overdraft limit assigned to the account. If not, re-qualify them and put them back in the program. Consumers want the service and managing the overdraft program like a line of business benefits everyone.

Does your financial institution have Exclusion Creep?

Audits and Exams and ODP, Oh My!

An audit or exam is approaching? Use ODP Manager to help you gather the requested documentation!

Do you need to supply samples of each letter sent using ODP Manager? In Collection Letters and Custom Letters, you can generate a sample PDF of each active letter template.

For the specified review period, do you need to identify accounts with overdraft limits added or removed? Reg E opt ins or opt outs? Letters generated?  In Events, you can search for all events that occur during a specified timeframe. Use filters to narrow your results to a specific event or letter.  Not only can you identify the appropriate accounts, but you can also export the list.

Do you need a convenient summary of all the account’s information contained within ODP Manager? In Account Inquiry, export the Account Profile as a PDF – it’s a convenient way to compile the information for account officers, auditors, or examiners. It includes an overdraft summary, comments, reminders, repayment plans, and an event history. Also, the Events tab allows you to review all the account’s events and regenerate PDFs of any letters mailed to the customer.

For any Overdraft Privilege Program review, ODP Manager makes compiling the requested information easier.

 

Managing Fee Waivers and Refunds

As the end of the year approaches, we have seen more and more clients loose potential additional fee income by waiving or refunding customer OD/NSF fees.  This is often lost income potential that is unknown to the institution. Generally most systems are set up to charge fees after the pay/return decisions have been made, so if the fees are waived the income never shows up on the general ledger as either income or the subsequent reversal of income.  Besides the reduction of fee income, waiving or refunding OD/NSF fees can also be a compliance issue.  Regulators have become increasingly sensitive to which accounts are not being held accountable for the fees that their activity dictates should be charged. For instance, if a high net worth individual is not charged overdraft (or other) fees that other accounts are routinely charged, this may be viewed as disparate treatment with all the ramifications that allegations of that nature involve.

The best solution to help alleviate both of these issues is to charge the fee “the night before”, or when the overdraft transactions are presented rather than waiting until the resolution of all items to post the fee. This helps accomplish the reduction in fee income simply because it requires more than a “click” to waive a fee, but rather a refund would need to be run for the reversal of the fee. This also allows for easier tracking of what is being given back to your account holders. With the gross fees as well as the individual refunds posting to the general ledger you can see at any given time how much the institution is giving away in fee income. From a compliance standpoint the institution is charging everyone on an equal basis – if an item overdraws the account then the account is charged – but the officer still has the discretion to refund the fee after the fact. This method is much more trackable and provides much more accountability for fee refunds.

Many of our clients cannot tell how much income they are giving back to customers each month. Part of the issue is addressed above regarding how to account for your fees and the associated waives, but the other issue is simply employees refunding fees back to customers when they ask for it, or sometimes even without them asking for it. In addition, very few institutions take the time to build reports, examine those reports, and hold their employees accountable on a consistent basis.

To assist in managing fee refunds, Strunk recommends that you implement the use of a “Refund Request Form” for employees to provide customers when they request a refund. This accomplishes multiple things. First, it allows the employee to avoid the face-to-face confrontation and having to make a snap decision. Second, it puts the emphasis for refunds back on the customer to show why it should be granted. This does not mean that we will no longer grant refunds, but we would like the customer to have to provide a valid reason why the institution should consider granting the request.

How Can ODP Manager Help You Successfully Manage Your Overdraft Privilege Program?

Overdraft Privilege can be the largest producer of fee income for your financial institution. Think of all the features within ODP Manager as pieces of a puzzle that must all be present in order for you to manage your program successfully!

Did you know that there is a Library in ODP Manager that will provide you recommended, compliant letters and policies? By using Strunk’s templates and generating letters as due in ODP Manager, you are facilitating your program compliance. You also have access to links to all applicable laws an regulations for quick reference.

ODP Manager can also help you more effectively manage your Fresh Start Loan program. Generate collection letters that advise your account holders about the option of a Fresh Start Loan. Create the Fresh Start Loan Agreement using the account data already in ODP Manager. Track repayment plans and use payment reminders to monitor when payments should be received all within the application.

Make sure you routinely monitor the management reports in ODP Manager that summarize your Overdraft Privilege program performance. Use the Summary Report to monitor trends in your NSF and OD Fees and Refunds.

The Account Inquiry section of the software allows filtering, sorting, and exporting of your account details. It also includes standard groups that help you identify accounts to review. Use the Call List group to contact your overdrawn accounts prior to their next collection letter.

Let ODP Manager help you get the most benefit from your Overdraft Privilege program!

Strunk Reports Record Sales

Strunk is proud to report that October was the highest volume software sales month in our history. In addition, October 2019 YTD sales of Risk Manager, our Governance, Risk Management and Compliance management solution, are already up almost 50% relative to full-year 2018. New clients in October range in asset size from just under $100 million to over $1.2 billion.

This success was fueled by Strunk’s strategy to offer a broad range of services, allowing clients to purchase all of our GRC modules, including Risk Assessor, Policy Manager, Controls Manager, Skills Manager, Issues Manager, Vendor Manager plus our hosted ODP Manager software for one affordable price. Clients also signed up for Overdraft Privilege program reviews and implementation of new Overdraft programs.

Strunk CEO Dan Roderick commented, “In just one month we were able to add a record number of new clients across every line of our business and a broad range of software solutions. From my perspective, this is what it’s all about – providing full-featured, easy-to-use tools that also offer clients great value. Our sales team has really knocked it out of the park!”

With Strunk’s Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance (GRC) solution suite clients can greatly enhance internal control and risk management processes and save time. The suite includes:

  • Vendor Manager is a specialized tool for managing vendor risk that standardizes risk assessment methodology and organizes all vendor related documentation.
  • Risk Assessor helps prepare comprehensive risk assessments consistent with regulatory or other requirements, in days, not weeks.
  • Policy Manager organizes all existing policies into a single database, mapped to the relevant standards and control procedures.
  • Controls Manager schedules tests of policy compliance and tracks test results.
  • Issues Manager is a centralized database for tracking all compliance issues and incidents across your entire organization.
  • Skills Manager provides online testing and training to ensure employees are knowledgeable about the organization’s policies.

In addition to our GRC solutions, financial institutions should periodically review their overdraft program to ensure they are not using policies and procedures that are non-compliant with current laws and regulations. Strunk’s comprehensive Overdraft Privilege Program review includes recommendations to increase fee income and ensure compliance. Additionally, clients receive access to our state-of-the-art program management software, ODP Manager.

Why is Overdraft Protection Important

Financial institutions across the country have to make decisions every day when it comes to accounts that show insufficient funds. Should the institutions pay an overdrawn item and take a chance the customer will pay them back or should they return or deny the transaction?

Most banks and credit unions charge the same fee whether they pay an item into overdraft status or return it to the merchant (in the case of paper checks). The question always comes up…who would want you to return the item to the merchant? Furthermore, what happens when the item is returned and what are the consequences to the customer? There is nothing good that happens when an item is returned and it only causes grief to the consumer. In this particular case, grief in the form of additional fees from the merchant or being redlined for future non-cash purchases.

Formal consumer centric overdraft payment programs started in the early 1990s and consumers have benefited greatly. Since the same fee is levied either way, the grief and embarrassment of returned checks is eliminated. For debit card or ATM transactions, consumers can decide on their own if they want the debit authorized or not. About half of a financial institution’s customers want to take the groceries or prescriptions home rather than being denied when using a debit card. Others never want to overdraw their account regardless of the situation.

This is the reason Overdraft Privilege and other forms of overdraft protection programs work. The daily overdraft decision process is easier for the financial institution and consumers like the program. A rare win-win in banking.

Take Advantage of ODP Opt-In Opportunities

How are you communicating with your account holders in your Overdraft Privilege Program? Are you able to not only advise account holders of the benefits of Overdraft Privilege but also remind them that they can authorize Overdraft Privilege service for ATM withdrawals and everyday debit card purchases? Strunk’s overdraft management application, ODP Manager, allows you to do just that!

You should consider sending both Welcome and Reinstatement letters to your account holders when overdraft limits have been assigned or when account holders requalify for Overdraft Privilege. When you send these letters to accounts that have not opted in for Regulation E, you should remind account holders that they have the option to authorize Overdraft Privilege for ATM and debit card transactions. ODP Manager can identify the accounts that have not opted in and generate a letter that includes the Consent Form for Overdraft Services and information about other ways to opt in. You can even set up a form in ODP Manager to allow your account holders to opt in online.

Additionally, ODP Manager allows you to send a letter periodically to account holders in your Overdraft Privilege program who have not opted in to or opted out of the ATM/everyday debit card Overdraft Privilege coverage. This is another opportunity to explain this additional feature to your account holders and to provide a consent form and additional opt-in methods.

Once you start taking advantage of these additional opportunities, the ODP Manager software can help you monitor your progress using daily reports and a dashboard that tracks progress over time.

Tell Your Story … Before the Examiner Does

Most bankers understand the importance of explaining their philosophy, strategic direction, successes and challenges to directors, auditors, examiners, analysts, and even their fellow executives and employees. They know it’s always better to tell their story before opinions are formed and judgements made about the condition and direction of their institution. Waiting until questions are asked after financial statements or audit reports reflect any weakness, or worse, when examiners arrive on-site, often means responding defensively to what is typically a very good story about management’s ability to identify, measure, monitor and mitigate risks. Given its undeniable importance, the best bankers excel at presenting the facts first and then reinforcing the message about the quality of their management team. If done efficiently, your comprehensive enterprise risk management report will provide the perfect opportunity to tell your story.

The issue is one of timing. Everybody’s busy and nobody has time to continuously repeat what we may naively assume is a message everybody has already heard and retained. But we aren’t always in front of the audience when issues arise. Examiners, for example, spend a considerable amount of time off-site analyzing the institution before coming through your doors. Their pre-work is critical to ensure an effective, risk-focused examination. In the process, it’s inevitable to have opinions formed and even CAMEL ratings roughed-out before speaking with management. Bankers must ensure their own viewpoint is timed to arrive before being judged by examiners, directors, auditors, and others. In particular, your enterprise risk assessments should clearly communicate management’s perspective on all risks, and especially your highest risks.

Equally important is presenting all the facts in a credible manner. The truth eventually comes out, and if people closest to the work fail to acknowledge high risks and other issues before they are obvious, it means they either can’t be trusted because they hid the facts, or they are deficient because they didn’t know the facts. Bankers conduct comprehensive risk assessments for this exact reason: identify the risks and then measure, monitor and mitigate them. ,Risk assessments are fundamental to the business of banking. Done right, they ensure no stone is left unturned and they validate management credibility. They provide the facts backing the story.

Identifying risks comes naturally to most bankers – we’re in the risk taking business after all – but completing and communicating risk assessment results has often been labor intensive and time consuming. If not done efficiently, individual and enterprise risk assessments can drain resources, incur opportunity costs by diverting resources from other important assignments, and lead to frustration and corner-cutting. The key is ensuring individuals closest to the action conduct or oversee the risk assessment in their functional area, but not require them to spend an inordinate amount of time on the work. About an hour each quarter should prove sufficient at most institutions for executives to complete the task…provided they have the right tools to perform the assessment.

Most bankers appreciate how important it is to tell their story to the right audience before opinions are formed and judgement passed. Comprehensive Enterprise Risk Assessments present a golden opportunity to do just that if they can be done efficiently and without draining resources or busting the budget. Enterprise Risk Assessments are the perfect way to back your story with facts.

Latest ODP Manager Enhancements

At Strunk, we are committed to providing best-in-class software solutions, and are constantly providing enhancements that we feel will best serve our clients. This month we are pleased to announce the addition of ODP Manager Dashboard within our industry-leading overdraft management application, ODP Manager.

ODP Manager clients will now be able to see their performance over time, as well as in comparison to our entire customer base, for five key indicators: Percent with Limit, Percent Opt In, Overdraft Fee, Consumer Overdraft Limit, and Business Overdraft Limit. The dashboard will graphically display the organization’s performance in purple as compared to the 25th, 50th and 75th percentile statistics for our entire client base. The Dashboard will also display the organization’s monthly trend for Percent with Limit and Percent Opt In.

Each quarter we will email clients a summary of their performance, along with tailored recommendations to address areas that may need attention. We believe the new ODP Dashboard will help clients more effectively monitor overdraft program key indicators and improve performance over time.

New Website Featuring GRC & ODP Software Tools

Strunk today announced the launch of a new public website at a new domain: StrunkAccess.com.  The new site provides more information about Strunk’s GRC and ODP software tools in an updated design.

In addition to fee enhancement consulting, Strunk provides comprehensive, easy-to-use and affordable Governance, Risk Management and Compliance software tools that improve compliance and productivity for financial, online and healthcare services providers. These tools are:

Risk Assessor helps prepare comprehensive risk assessments in a matter of days, not weeks.

Policy Manager organizes organization policies into a single database, mapped to the relevant audit standards and control procedures.

Controls Manager schedules tests of policy compliance and tracks test results.

Issues Manager is a centralized database for tracking all compliance issues and incidents across the entire organization.

Vendor Manager is a specialized tool for managing vendor risk that standardizes methodology and organizes all the documentation.

Skills Manager provides online testing and training to ensure employees are knowledgeable about organization policies.

According to Strunk CEO Dan Roderick, “Strunk has grown quite a bit over the past few years and we wanted our public-facing website to demonstrate more comprehensively our expanded services and growth into new markets. We also felt it was time to update our domain name to more accurately reflect who we are.”

Strunk’s old domain name, StrunkLP.com, will continue to work for the online application, which is being transitioned to app.strunkaccess.com.

An independent certified public accountant has examined Strunk’s operations and found them to be in compliance with the AICPA’s Trust Service Principles. It was determined that Strunk meets the Security, Availability, Processing Integrity, Confidentiality, and Privacy criteria for SOC 2 established by the AICPA.