Automation has been a game changer for countless businesses, including those in banking and lending. Spreading process automation eases the workload for loan officers by taking rote tasks off their to-do lists and prepopulating fields, spreadsheets and documents that otherwise would take hours to complete.
For many lending institutions, however, there’s concern that spreading process automation takes too much control and decision-making power away from loan officers and analysts. Community banks and credit unions often have to make changes and add adjustments to spreads, due to the nature of small business lending. When automation locks in data or black-boxes decisions, it doesn’t always yield the time saving benefits they’re looking for.
Finding the Right Financial Spreading Process Automation for Small Banks
Spreading software like FISCAL Forward aims to strike the right balance between saving time and offering the right level of control. Spreading process automation like scanning tax returns to prepopulate spreads also includes the ability to subsequently edit any cells or values, make adjustments, or insert footnotes, just as you would if the data entry had been done manually.
The result is automation that eliminates the mindless tasks while keeping the user fully in control of the process and decisions.
In this post, we’ll explore some spreading process automation tools available in FISCAL Forward and how you can use them to streamline your spreading and underwriting process.
Using Functions for Data Entry Ease
Spreading process automation shows its true value when it helps lenders eliminate rote work. While automation has become common for the initial keying of financial data, it can be an equally valuable time-saver when applying formulas throughout a column. Unlike copying down formulas in an Excel spreadsheet, FISCAL’s formula options allow you to create Average, Trailing 12 Month (TTM), and Projection columns with just a couple clicks, which still responds to user edits.
By contrast, when you create a similar column in an Excel spreadsheet, even the total rows are replaced by the Average or TTM formula. If you then want to change data in a cell, those changes would not be reflected in the down-stream total rows. But in FISCAL Forward, you can create a TTM column while also keeping the total row formulas intact. The feature gives you the best of both worlds, allowing edits and adjustments to the data and eliminating countless manual keystrokes and formula corrections.
Report Options and Report Sets
Running reports and analysis is a constant task when spreading and underwriting, so FISCAL created a way to streamline the process. Most institutions have a standard group of reports they use each time- such as income statement, balance sheet, and the personal financial analysis- and then a few additional reports used on an as-needed basis. To speed up the process, FISCAL lets you create Report Sets, loading in the desired reports, in the specified order, with a selected set of Report Options, automatically.
If you need to make changes to the report set for a specific deal, FISCAL lets you add/remove/modify those reports without changing the core Report Set and order.
Global Cash Flow and Deals
To run global cash flow for a potential loan, you may need to gather data, including outstanding loan information, from the borrower, all guarantors, and any associated businesses involved in the deal.
Once this is added in FISCAL Forward, you can select the people, businesses and loans associated with the scenario and save that selection as a Deal. Realize you made a mistake and need to jump to a specific spread? When you return to the Global area, simply click the deal and FISCAL will load in everything that you need. Returning to the relationship a year later for an annual review? Quickly pull up the deal and the data is ready for review. When you consider the potential time spent manually selecting the dozen or more entities that may be in a given deal, this spreading process automation can save hours.
Generating and Populating Credit Memos
Writing credit memos can require hours of hunting and compiling information. Then there’s the mindless copying and pasting, duplicate data entry, or fighting with tables to align properly. The time these memos take and the frustration they cause make this task an obvious choice for spreading process automation.
Using FISCAL Forward automation, you can quickly populate the business and personal information, as well as the proposed loan details, using the data you already entered for the analysis in FISCAL. Once you’ve completed a credit memo in FISCAL for a given borrower, the automation feature pulls in the previous narrative, allowing you to easily make changes as needed without having to re-type or copy/paste the entire it all.
When FISCAL Forward is connected to a bank or credit union core system, it can also pull the most up-to-date information from the borrower’s record, including contact information, deposit account and loan balances, late payments, and more. This data then flows directly into the Credit Memo, eliminating data entry entirely. The financial information is automatically populated from the spreads in a clean and consistent format, so no more frustrating fights with tables, either.
Comparing Automation in Other Platforms
Other spreading software offers automation–it’s a top selling point across all platforms–but not all automation is created equally. To better judge capabilities needed, evaluate how much time you spend on repetitive and rote tasks, from data entry to copying and pasting. You might be surprised how time consuming “easy” tasks might be.
Next, compare the list of your most time-consuming tasks with the automation options offered. Is the automation on these items something that will actually save you time, or will it require frequent adjustments or lock you into a process that’s hard to change and not what you need?
If you’re looking to save time, we’re happy to discuss our spreading process automation features when you book a demo.