With BankTEL’s ASCEND, the Accounts Payable Staff at American National Bank of Texas is Saving 10-15 Hours Each Week

With: Kari Hammond, Vice President and Assistant Controller

At 2.8 billion in assets, American National Bank of Texas (ANBT) is the largest privately held bank in the secondlargest state. It has 29 branches and is headquartered in Terrell, Texas, where it was chartered in 1875 as Water, Bivens & Corely Bank. That first building was destroyed in a fire in 1882, but the bank still operates out of its second building.

Kari Hammond has worked at ANBT for a decade, most recently as Vice President and Assistant Controller. Under Hammond’s guidance, ANBT switched its accounting system to BankTEL’s ASCEND after its core provider, Jack Henry Silverlake, sunsetted its accounting program.

“It was a system for the Medieval Ages, and we were ready to go into the 21st century,” Hammond jokes. Prior to the switch, the bank was storing all of its accounting documents as paper files.

ABNT has over 400 ASCEND users dealing with one or more of five modules: Accounts Payable, Fixed Assets, Prepaids & Accruals, Expense Reimbursement, Remote Scanning, and Approval Workflow.

Employees like the faster, easier reimbursement set-up, and Hammond estimates that ASCEND is saving her accounts payable staff about 10-15 hours each week.

“We’ve had a lot of turnover in our department in the last year, and we would not have survived this turnover had we not been on BankTEL,” Hammond says. “I was down to just one accounts payable person for seven months, and that one person has been able to keep things going with some overtime, but not nearly the overtime that would have been required were we still on our old system.”

According to Hammond, implementation was surprisingly easy and a recent AP hire—just three weeks into the job—says ASCEND is the most user-friendly system she’s ever learned.

“Customer service has been great,” says Hammond. “They respond quickly, and I’ve had good communications with different areas of the company. There have been a lot of features that I’ve requested or inquired about, and BankTEL has been very responsive.”

Her favorite feature of Ascend is that “from anywhere in the system, you can get anywhere else. The drill down capability is fast and easy.”

At first, Hammond was concerned about BankTEL’s limited customization options, but soon she came to appreciate the simplicity of this approach.

“There’s less maintenance on my end,” she says. “It’s been much easier to get up and running with it, and you’re not having to consult a manual every time you want to do something. It’s intuitive. It makes sense.”

She welcomes the control that ASCEND offers her, in terms of fraud prevention.

“It’s a very transparent system, so I think it will help us keep an eye on activities. If anything were to occur from a fraudulent standpoint, I think we’d catch it more quickly.”

ANBT just finished an audit, and Hammond estimates that ASCEND saved her a day’s work during that process. “I’ve set up an auditor profile on the system, and I just give them access. Go forth and prosper and leave me alone,” she says.

Under their old accounting system, a bank employee had to manually pull all audit requests. Hammond used to have two employees handling accounts payable full time, but with BankTEL, they’re saving so much time that Hammond plans to assign new duties to one of those employees.

“With BankTEL, it’s like needing only one and a half Accounts Payable people, instead of two,” she says.

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