5 Ways Automating AP Can Help Financial Institutions in Uncertain Times

With mid-sized banks and credit unions still adjusting to telecommuting, many are turning to automation to increase efficiency, streamline operations and maintain a high standard of customer service.

By: BankTEL

The reality for financial institutions in 2020 is that many bank professionals now find themselves required to work remotely in order to comply with public health guidelines. There is a continued need to provide essential services to customers and members, but the transition to telecommuting presents challenges in terms of efficiency, productivity and customer service.

These challenges are especially prevalent for those responsible for processing accounts payable, which often requires multiple individuals, whether to receive and process invoices, print, stamp and mail checks, track supplier payment preferences, or to approve payments.

AP processing is a time-consuming job, even for the most seasoned professionals without all of the current interruptions. Mid-sized financial institutions must determine the best course for how to maintain the high level of service their customers have come to expect, while also equipping their employees with the tools they need, not only to survive, but also to thrive during these exceptional times. 

Here are five ways automation can help you find greater efficiencies when processing your accounts payable. These factors are especially important to consider in light of the unique circumstances in which businesses both large and small are now forced to operate.

  1. Lower Overhead & Save Money

Businesses everywhere are paying closer attention to their bottom line than ever before, and looking for ways to cut costs and lower overhead to ensure a sustainable path forward. Eliminating expenses associated with postage and manual processing can generate significant savings.

AP professionals are responsible for a variety of tasks that are critical to the everyday functioning of a financial institution. They often wear many hats and can easily become overextended by tasks like printing, stuffing, signing and mailing checks, amongst other paper-heavy, outdated processes — which are especially difficult to complete when working remotely.

Banks can cut costs by automating AP to give these talented professionals with diverse skill sets the ability to focus on other revenue-producing activities that can add meaningful value to the bank — over and above their crucial contributions as AP experts.

  1. Maximize Efficiency

Electronic payments offer additional efficiencies beyond eliminating the need to manually process checks. Forward-thinking financial institutions can also drive a consistency across processes for all payment methods and all suppliers, streamlining operations while also driving loyalty, new customers and growth.

Customer service will always be top-of-mind for mid-sized community and regional banks and credit unions, and clients have come to expect a certain interpersonal dynamic. Consider that automating payments also allows you to leverage the power of a full-service payment team that may actually enhance overall customer experience for your valued base.

Those who have already made the transition to electronic payments are also reporting that they have more latitude and flexibility to proactively deal with current challenges as a result of the efficiencies already in place. There is more transparency in general, audits are easier and the flow of AP processing has been uninterrupted.

  1. Mitigate Risk & Minimize Fraud

Mitigating risk and fraud is a top consideration for all businesses, but it’s especially critical for financial institutions. Automating AP processing can help mid-sized banks and credit unions avoid over-exposing sensitive account data, especially in the midst of the chaos created by whole segments of the workforce transitioning to remote working.

Electronic payments provide real-time visibility into every payment along with enhanced security for sensitive supplier bank account data, while also limiting liability associated with check fraud.

  1. Drive Predictable Return on Investment

Automation has the potential to streamline efficiencies for hardworking AP professionals at every touchpoint, from the processing of accounts payable to bank reconciliation in accounting. This means that mid-sized banks can largely eliminate the hard costs associated with check stock, postage and envelopes.

Opting for an automated AP solution that includes e-payment incentives will enable predictable and forecastable ROI in addition to savings from the transition away from more cumbersome, paper-heavy methods.

  1. Offer Vendors Greater Options

Any automated AP processing solution should feature an easy-to-use interface, and a service component that helps get all of your vendors and suppliers transitioned over to a virtual payment environment. Vendors will appreciate the ease with which they can receive payments and manage invoices.

When financial institutions leverage the full benefits of automated AP, they can provide vendors with discretion on how they wish to receive payment, while also cutting costs, maximizing operational efficiencies, and even earning e-payment incentives that can contribute significantly to the bottom line over time.

Automating payments can help AP professionals leverage their skill sets and abilities in the most productive and sustainable ways, enabling mid-sized FIs to maximize efficiencies, cut costs and drive predictable ROI.

AvidPay provides a payment automation solution built to help you eliminate risk-prone, inefficient payment processes and to pay bills with greater ease. With a full-service payment execution team to handle everything from setup and reconciliation to tracking vendor payment preferences or customer service concerns, you can finally focus on getting your job done with greater efficiency and productivity.