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.

Doing Risk Assessments Doesn’t Have to be Daunting

Community banks across the county struggle with the risk assessment process and generally they come in the form of Excel Spreadsheets or Word documents. Each functional area of the bank does their regulatory required risk assessment in silo’s and periodically the bank’s board reviews and approves the assessment.

Regulatory scrutiny of BSA/AML, ACH, Fair Lending, Loan Concentrations, Cybersecurity, Information Technology and other areas of the bank have caused financial institutions to spend more time and money focusing on the risks the bank faces. Some banks have declared their compliance officer the chief risk officer as a way to show the regulators that they are on top of enterprise risk management.

Outsourcing some of these functions to vendors is an expensive way to manage the risk assessment process and certainly unnecessary. Strunk’s GRC (Governance, Risk Management and Compliance) solution makes the risk assessment process easy to do and it consolidates all areas of risk the bank faces into one report.

Bank examiners often tell the community bank that they are coming out for the annual exam six weeks to two months prior to actually showing up. Generally, they ask the bank to send an extensive amount of information prior to coming onsite. This gives the regulator time to form their opinion on what risks the bank faces before arriving at the bank.

Strunk’s solution lets the bank tell their story rather than have the regulator tell the bank’s story to them. Comprehensive risk assessments are made easy with Strunk’s GRC and Vendor Management solution.

SOC 2 for Companies vs CPA Firms

SOC 2 reports are becoming ubiquitous for businesses in the B2B market, creating a shared confidence that best business practices are followed and systems are developed with security and data privacy in mind.  StrunkAccess GRC provides a unique SOC 2 experience, and through our conversations with clients we have seen that predictably CPA firms have a much different view of the SOC 2 vs Companies required to have them.

Companies

To compete in today’s market a company must be able to satisfy their customers’ needs.  With many companies now requiring 3rd party verifications from their vendors, the go to responses are an assessment based on how integrated the vendor is within the operations of the requesting company and a SOC 2 report.  From a company’s perspective a SOC 2 is really just a means to lubricate the sales processes and removing barriers or objections to the perspective business.  While a SOC 2 audit can add value to a company by solidifying policies, procedures and controls, the overwhelming sense our clients have relayed to us is a SOC 2 is necessary to help increase their bottom line by doing business with more sophisticated entities.

CPA Firms

While the SOC 2 has been a big boom to the bottom line of CPA firms, many firms realize SOC 2 readiness is a time consuming and onerous process for their clients.  It also winds up delaying the SOC 2 process more than any other part of the audit, especially for first time SOC 2 participants.  Because of this CPA firms concentrate on giving companies tools and examples that can help them fill gaps in their organizational structure.  The issue arises that before a SOC 2 audit no company is fully ready, all companies need to add policies or modify existing policies to close gaps and follow the general outline of the SOC 2 trust principles.  The biggest divergence that we see here is that the CPA controls for SOC 2 vary from firm to firm and can create a maze that is hard for companies to follow, even though the process with the CPA firm may be well established.  The big difference here is that CPA firms are looking at a SOC 2 as an ends, where as companies view them as a means to an end.

Technology Service Provider Contracts

Understanding the increase dependence that financial institutions have on technology service providers, bank regulators have increased their efforts to require banks to appropriately handle third-party risk management.  The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has identified gaps noted by some examiners regarding several technology service provider contracts that were inadequate under existing guidance.  These contracts were missing or inadequately addressed key terms, such as:

  • Requiring the service provider to maintain a business continuity plan,
  • Lack standards for data recovery along with appropriate remedies when a recovery standard is missed.
  • Defining key terms in the contracts relevant to business continuity and/or incident response. Contracts lacking these provisions violate the Interagency Guidelines Establishing Information Security Standards, promulgated under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.

Vendors that provide technology related services can create special risks to depository institutions that need to be properly addressed in their service contracts.  The FDIC indicated that it plans to hold the board and senior management of financial institutions accountable for controlling those risks in accordance with the requirements of the law and its existing regulatory guidance.

Financial Institutions should be willing to hold their service providers accountable and negotiate an appropriate contract.  All financial institutions should have provisions that they review for all of their contracts with a robust vendor management program, this will help uncover any weakness in business continuity and data recovery early in the process.

 

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.

Take The Scary Out of Your SOC2 Exam

SOC 2 examinations can be scary and complicated, taking up extended amounts of your employees‘ and stakeholders‘ time. Changes to the AICPA framework can throw your SOC 2 exam into a tailspin, if you discover you don’t have policies and controls to address the newer principles. Utilizing a patchwork of spreadsheets, word docs and PDFs ensures your company will be sinking the maximum human investment into SOC 2 compliance, helping to increase frustration and the possibility of a qualified report.

Strunk Risk Manager can decrease the frustration and the complexity of your policy management process. Our software includes six basic tools for managing risks, policies, controls, compliance issues, vendors and employee knowledge, helping you seamlessly manage your compliance and policy frameworks. Strunk SOC 2 tools don’t just stop at management. We also include a suite of SOC 2 Trust Principle templates to help jump start your policy creation or fill gaps in your already-developed policy regime.

What can you expect from Strunk’s SOC 2/Risk Framework enablement tools?

  1. Your company submits your current policies to our secure portal. If your company does not have developed policies, we have you covered. Use our library of policies and controls to pick and choose templates applicable to your company, helping to speed up the policy and control creation process.
  2. From there we load your policies into the system. Once completed we will train you and your team on how to utilize the system, enabling your team to take off running.
  3. Once your policies are in the system, we will work with your team to map these policies to the correct SOC 2 trust principles.
  4. When your policies and controls are loaded and mapped to the correct trust principles, the heavy lifting is over. Modifying existing policies or adding new ones takes very little time, and your team can easily document board and management approvals.
  5. Help speed along your compliance audits using our Policy Map View, which provides a single document, showing the SOC 2 trust principles, your mapped policies and controls, as well as your control test history and applicable documents. Give your auditors most of what they will need in a single shot, reducing overhead and delays caused by communication lag.

At Strunk, we know our solution works because we use it on our own SOC 2. Contact us today for a demo to see if our solution is right for your company.

Our GRC Services

Our roots go back to 1976, when we began providing consulting services to banks and credit unions. Since then, we have worked with more than 1,500 clients in all fifty states. Among banks and credit unions, we are best known for our compliant fee income improvement programs, including Overdraft Privilege, Rewards Checking and Value Checking. Because risk management and compliance have always been a big part of what we do, in recent years we have gradually expanded our focus to helping clients in all industries improve their risk management and compliance processes and productivity using our software.

We now offer six comprehensive, easy-to-use and affordable compliance management tools that are useful for clients in any industry:

Risk Assessor helps you prepare comprehensive risk assessments consistent with regulatory or other requirements, in days, not weeks.

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

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

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

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 your policies.

All our tools are securely and reliably hosted at Amazon AWS, from which they are available on a variety of devices from anywhere. We’ve gotten some great feedback from our clients. Here are a few comments:

Our policy and control structure is very complex having both a broker/dealer and an investment advisory firm. Policy Manager allows us to easily organize a large volume of policies and maintain our control testing documentation all in one convenient place—a significant improvement over our previous process! — Laura Hendricks: Woodlands Securities / Woodlands Asset Management

We currently use Strunk’s Policy Manager to update and track changes to our policies. We like the audit trail it leaves of changes and also the PDF Redline that indicates changes used for the Board to review and approve. Strunk Customer Support has been prompt and they always assist with any issues we might have. — Karen Lomax, Vice President and CFO Kinetic Credit Union

Strunk’s program brings efficiency to the process and allows us to focus on areas of high risk. Our team sees great value in the process and reporting generated by the Strunk program. It is an affordable way to manage regulatory required risk assessments. — Bob Sundquist, CFO/CRO, NebraskaLand National Bank

Our core customer base has always been smaller and medium-sized organizations and so, unlike most providers, we have tried to price Risk Manager at a level that is affordable by all. In order to encourage usage, we charge a flat annual fee based an organization size. That fee gets you unlimited access to the tools for an unlimited number of users, along with unlimited support from for our support team.

Strunk at WBA’s Education Summit & Regulatory Compliance Conference

Strunk is excited to be exhibiting once again at the Western Bankers Association’s Education Summit & Regulatory Compliance Conference next week, August 25th-28th. This year hosted at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, the event always proves to have many learning opportunities for bankers to gain insight into the most current information facing our industry.

In addition to visiting with many current clients, we look forward to showing attendees the latest features offered by our Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC) software. The solution now includes six GRC tools – Risk Assessor, Policy Manager, Controls Manager, Skills Manager, Issues Manager and the all new Vendor Manager.

Vendor Manager provides an easy to follow standardized process to assess risk, gather due diligence materials, evaluate contracts and stores all vendor documentation in one convenient place. Vendor Manager keeps everything organized, is simple to use and of course follows the latest FFIEC guidelines.

Please stop by booth 28 to learn how to improve compliance, streamline responses, and enhance collaboration… all with less effort. All bankers will also have the opportunity to enter to win a $250 Amazon gift card from Strunk. We can’t wait to see you!

Report from AICPA Vegas

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the AICPA conference in Las Vegas Nevada, where I was able to connect with some of the most interesting companies in the accounting and auditing space. I was able to learn about products from companies like Peerview Data, which specializes in “turning client data into actionable insights” and GruntWorx, which organizes and pre-fills tax documents, as well as many others. The biggest lesson I learned from the conference was the need for data protection and SOC 2 framework compliance.

Many of the companies I talked with had either completed a SOC 2 audit, were in the middle of an audit or were acutely aware of the need for a SOC 2 exam because of the many third-party vendor assessments they constantly must complete for prospective clients. As we discussed their different software applications, and how they deal with customer data, I saw what we always see: spreadsheets and word documents rule the day, creating frustration and wasted time responding to vendor assessment requests. The more we dove into the topic the clearer it became that the Strunk Risk Manager system of policy management was not just a nice to have but was a need to have. I heard from a managing partner at a tax software company that she spends two to three hours answering vendor assessments for nearly all of her new clients, as she was the only person in the company who could pull together all of the required information. Strunk Risk Manager allows your organization to respond with far less effort, freeing up your executive team for more important tasks.

One company told me that it took around 20% of one of their senior consultant’s time working with their CPA firm to complete their first SOC 2 and were planning on utilizing 10-15% of his time for future exams. When we started to discuss how Strunk Risk Manager transforms your policy and control documentation process they were instantly interested in learning more.

At Strunk, we believe that your challenges with compliance are our opportunity to provide best practice solutions and streamlined responses to managing all your compliance processes.

Strunk at COCC Foxwoods

We were happy to see so many friends and clients at the COCC Annual Client Conference earlier this month. We were definitely on friendly ground, as we have now implemented our solutions for well over half the COCC base. This event set a new attendance record for COCC. Thank you to everyone who dropped in to see us and congrats to Maria Sgambati at Everett Co-operative Bank who was the winner of our $250 Amazon gift card.

At the conference we were able to show off some of the latest improvements in our Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC) software. We have upgraded Risk Assessor to version 2. It now includes automated feeds of peer data from the FDIC, consolidated risk and trend scoring, and an inline scoring history so you can see at the indicator level your scores on prior assessments. Policy Manager now includes more fine-grained reader logging and alerts.

We also were able to demo our new Vendor Manager tool for managing vendor risk. Vendor Manager provides an easy to follow standardized process to assess risk, gather due diligence materials, evaluate contracts and store all vendor documentation in one convenient place. Vendor Manager keeps everything organized, is simple to use and of course follows the latest FFIEC guidelines.

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.