External audits and exams have become a fact of life for financial institutions of all sizes. Community banks and credit unions undergo strenuous reviews of their procedures and practices anywhere between six and 18 times a year. While these reviews are designed to help ensure the stability of the organization and the adherence to laws and regulations, preparing for these events can be an extremely time consuming and stressful process to complete.
Most reviews consist of two phases – preparation and findings. At the beginning of the process the reviewing agent typically sends financial institutions a list of items that they want to review, certain areas they plan to examine and items they plan to discuss with the organization. This list normally includes a number of reports and documentation the financial organization must prepare ahead of the review and provide to the reviewing agents before the on-site visit. Some only require a handful of reports to prepare up-front, but others can request more than 60 different reports. Some of the reports and information that may be requested include:
- Organizational Charts
- Financial Reports
- Business Continuity Plans
- Disaster Recover Plans and Test Results
- Vendor Management Policies
- Security Policies
Often there is one person in charge of the review and they must work with each department to gather information by the designated due date. All files must then be stored in a central location, follow the template the reviewing agents have requested and be in a format that can be transmitted securely to the requesting party. Gathering all this information and ensuring all documents are complete and accurate can be a challenging task for smaller community banks and credit unions with limited in-house resources and staff.
Streamline the Pre-Exam Preparation Process
The Safe Systems’ Audit Trail™ application is designed to help financial institutions efficiently manage the preparation process. The application allows the user to import a variety of file types and formats, utilize the field matching wizard, and easily standardize items across the system despite the varied nature of the templates provided by the different agencies. To eliminate the mundane task of collecting the same documentation over and over, the application allows you to pull system reports directly from a variety of other Safe Systems’ services housed in theSafe, and store them in a central library so they are easily accessible the next time you need them.
All preparation reports are housed in the Audit Trail solution, meaning there is no duplication of documents; reports do not need to be saved in various folders; and the financial institution has peace of mind in knowing the most accurate and up-to-date information is sent to the reviewing agent. In addition, once all the preparation documents have been completed, a preparation item package is created in the form of a zip file, which makes it easier to input all the documents designated for the review into the reviewing agent’s delivery system. A report or manifest of documents attached to each audit is created, giving the financial institution a record of each review.
Preparing for an audit or exam can certainly be a headache! However, working with Safe Systems can provide your financial institution with peace of mind by ensuring you are well prepared and can feel confident for any upcoming review. Safe Systems provides financial institutions with a trusted resource and technology advisor, leading to a seamless and time efficient preparation process.