Managing a financial institution’s IT network is a full time, demanding job! A community bank’s IT administrator needs to truly understand the increasing complexity of IT operations, continuously changing regulatory requirements and FFIEC compliance guidelines. However, many smaller community banks are often located in communities that lack the qualified personnel resources to efficiently manage their IT and regulatory responsibilities.
In addition, community banks often can’t afford to have a team dedicated to IT management. Given the remote location of some community institutions, locating, training and retaining qualified individuals is a challenge, and many community banks cannot afford to pay qualified individuals enough to keep them. Banks that do try to maintain an in-house department often spend an inordinate amount of time and effort recruiting and training staff as community banks are faced with losing employees to competitive salaries in the marketplace.
However, regardless of location and size, these community banks are under the same regulations as larger institutions. Regulatory agencies are continuously changing and increasing regulations around cybersecurity and network management. In fact, the FFIEC recently released the Cybersecurity Assessment Tool (CAT) that is designed to help institutions identify their risks and determine their cybersecurity preparedness. Even though some regulatory agencies have indicated that completion of the tool is not mandatory, all the agencies have stated they intend to use the tool to assess an institution’s cybersecurity readiness, and have already begun to issue citations to financial institutions that have lapses or are not meeting regulations.
Smaller financial institutions should be looking for ways to more efficiently manage their IT networks and compliance strategies. Oftentimes, they determine outsourcing the management of IT needs and security risks is the most cost-efficient method.
Another factor small community banks should consider is the need for an outsourced provider to manage individual PC’s and workstations in addition to their IT networks. By assigning an outsourced provider to manage your banks’ individual PC’s and workstations, the chances of the workstations having issues is reduced, and easily resolved with no added stress to the bank’s IT team.
Given their modest internal resources, smaller community financial institutions can benefit from outsourcing or partnering with a provider who offers network and workstation management solutions exclusively tailored for community banks. Having a service in place that offers key features such as patch management, third party patching, antivirus, hardware and software inventory management, vulnerability remediation and compliance-focused reporting to verify that your financial institution’s network is adhering to your policies and procedures is critical in today’s environment.
Capabilities to look for in an outsourced solution include:
- Network and Workstation Monitoring
A solution should be able to provide proactive remote monitoring, alerting, preventive maintenance, ticketing, support and reporting for servers, workstations and other devices.
- Network Management
A team of certified network engineers who have expertise, banking knowledge and a true understanding of a financial institutions’ technology and technology needs. This expertise ensures issues are resolved in a timely and efficient manner.
- Workstation/PC Support
This includes bank applications as well as internal systems and applications. Tasks such as keeping the individual computers up-to-date with anti-virus software are completed and managed by the provider.
- Compliance-Focused Reports
Reports that deliver pertinent and useful information to help management ensure the institution is adhering to FFIEC regulatory policies and procedures and to meet the needs of regulators and examiners expectations.
Dedicated account managers and experts who understand the financial industry’s regulatory requirements and overall best practices. The Account Manager should deliver compliance-focused Quarterly Control Self-Assessments and Annual Systems Reviews as recommended by the FFIEC as well as provide ongoing strategic planning, technical consulting and participation with your technology committee meetings.
- Compliance Guidance
IT regulatory assistance by experts who can be available for IT audit and examination support. Working together pre and post audit/exam, this team prepares banks and credit unions for audits/examinations and can assist the financial institution with any findings.
- Educational Webinars and Education
Continuous education and webinars on recent trends and changes in technology and compliance provide financial institutions with a forum where they can learn and interact with subject matter experts and banking peers.
Eliminating the burden of IT network and workstation management, security and regulatory compliance enables your institution to focus on strategy and customer care and have peace of mind in knowing your institution is safe from cybersecurity threats and in compliance with government regulations.