Is Your Company Susceptible to Expense Reimbursement Fraud?

IS YOUR COMPANY SUSCEPTIBLE TO EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT FRAUD?

It is very common for companies to reimburse employee expenses on a regular basis, which makes expense reimbursement an

easy target for fraudsters. As we increase the emphasis of safeguarding against hackers and other criminals that pose an external threat, we should stop and consider potential threats from within the organization itself. As a manager, am I placing enough emphasis on protecting my company from internal fraud?

The 2 ways in which these schemes typically occur are:

  1. Claiming reimbursement for fictitious expenses

  2. Inflating actual business expenses

 

Helpful tips for preventing expense reimbursement fraud in your organization:

• Require that all expenses submitted for reimbursement are accompanied by original documentation, with no exceptions. Regardless of the amount, it’s important that employees keep receipts and maintain good records for expense reimbursement.

• Ensure that your organization has a well written expense reimbursement policy. Stay tuned for more on writing an effective policy from BankTEL!

• Institute a two-step review process for employee expense reimbursements. This means that two managers will have to approve the reimbursement before it is approved for payment.

• Maintain a healthy level of skepticism about your employees. You always want to trust the people you hire, but there’s nothing wrong with digging deeper to verify employee expenses.

• Have a consistent process set up for reimbursements. All employees should know what the process for reimbursement consists of and should expect that it will be the same every time.

• Discipline employees who violate the policies and procedures. Doing so will set an example and help deter other employees from making the same mistakes.

BankTEL User Conference Demonstrates Leadership in Fraud Prevention and Cybersecurity

Columbus, Miss.—BankTEL Systems, a leading provider of financial accounting solutions, recently hosted customers, banking executives and technology leaders at its annual user education conference at The Guesthouse Hotel at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. Over 200 financial institutions from 35 states participated.

Not only did attendees hear from industry professionals, but BankTEL team members discussed emerging technologies as the company continues to develop its platform to meet the ever-changing needs of its growing customer base. The conference also offered breakout sessions on key industry issues such as accounts payable fraud, compliance, cybersecurity and payment automation, as well as in-depth customer panels and user-groups for companies looking to further optimize their operations.


“We enjoy working with the market leader. BankTEL helps our institution stay ahead of A/P fraud and ensure our operation is efficient.”

 

– David Weems, Senior Vice President,
First Financial Bank, N.A., Abilene, Texas
$7.6 Billion in Assets

 

“The annual BankTEL conference is an extremely valuable time for us to network with other financial institutions and learn best practices from others.”


This year’s conference highlighted ways that BankTEL’s technology can help institutions innovate and stay ahead of the compliance curve. Attendees also received a unique view into real-time cybercrime, with presentations about the dark web, fraud and new methods criminals are using to target accounting groups.  At one of general sessions, an agent from the United States Secret Service talked about the steps law enforcement is taking to ensure that cybercriminals are caught and prosecuted.


About BankTEL Systems

BankTEL helps financial institutions manage expenses with easy-to-use software solutions that maintains transparency, accountability, and regulatory compliance. We are the only international software company that focuses solely on accounting solutions for financial institutions. We have 20% of the U.S. market share and a 27-year history of serving clients of all sizes.

 

Emphasize Digital Solutions While Keeping Banks Human Factor

Emphasize Digital Solutions While

 

As more bank customers want digital apps that allow them to complete transactions from their mobile devices, banks should equally emphasize their personal touch and human factor. Financial institutions employing the most up­to­date technology can improve the efficiency of their operations. However, also stressing the human factor is more important than ever.

Outstanding customer service, at the root of the depositor/borrower demands for high tech ability, is still driven by human interaction. Superior customer service is the primary reason for these demands. However, people still want to deal with people, particularly when it involves their savings and loan accounts..

The Impact of the Human Factor in the Digital Universe

 

New digital technology is amazing. The ability to perform almost all banking transactions from PCs, tablets and smart phones is overtaking the bank world. However, the advantage appears to be with those banks remembering that the personal touch differentiates them from their competition.

Those financial institutions that heavily use the human factor in combination with offering the most cutting edge digital apps, stand above the crowded bank landscape. Engaged bank customers care about their institution and its employees. This can make a significant difference in the bank they choose as their primary financial institution (PFI).

Emphasizing digital features, along with the human factor, impacts banks in at least two important ways.

    • It satisfies the overwhelming customer demand for the latest in technology
    • It emphasizes the bank’s ‘customer first’ focus.

Since banks in the U.S. and Western Europe are heavily regulated, it becomes challenging to differentiate one from another. Unlike other consumer retailers, banks cannot offer incredible discounts in deposit or loan services. Yet, they must find ways to distinguish themselves from their competition to be successful.

This situation presents numerous difficult challenges to banks. The solution: Banks should offer the latest high tech digital abilities, with strong back up from their human professionals. Bank customers who have built lasting relationships with bank personnel (at all levels) typically are loyal to their institution, as long as it offers the high tech features customers want.

Customer Innovations

 

According to PA Consulting, the need to use the traditional human factor is a “wake up call” for the world’s banking community. While customer innovation is important, it’s only as vital as emphasizing traditional human values.

When a bank’s customer base loves technology and social media, financial institutions make significant personal connections when offering the most recent tech apps. However, while Internet­only, non­branch banks can be effective in B2B environments, B2C banks flourish when using the personal touch, in addition to their high tech offerings.

Internal Innovations Help Bank Customers

 

With the internal bank management innovations becoming more innovative, some tech software features, particularly from top innovators, like Banktel, also deliver bank customer benefits. For example, Banktel’s vendor management app typically improves bank customer experiences, along with lowering financial institution costs.

Increasing banks’ bottom lines, using cutting edge software, allows financial institutions to offer depositors/borrowers better terms and interest rates. These internal innovations permit banks to offer more advantageous terms to their consumers. When banks use internal tech advances to offer better terms to customers, they stand above their crowded competitive universe.

Bank customers appreciate these relatively small competitive advantages, as they need to do business with someone. When their PFI offers the most recent technology in combination with caring, human intervention, people appreciate their bank’s concern for maximizing their money and convenience.

Regulators focus on bank safety and stability. Customers focus on outstanding rates, terms and service. These seemingly divergent objectives, however, are related. Consumers want their PFI to be safe and secure, but also offer the maximum in better terms and cutting edge digital ability.

Customer digital innovations, matched with the human factor, achieve both goals. Using internal management software further enhances the customer experience and satisfaction. Banks that offer the optimum in technology, supported by their human personnel, enjoy the most success—as do their customers.

PA Consulting:
http://www.paconsulting.com/our­thinking/digital­banking­keeping-the­personal­touch/

Hidden Costs for Banking Transactions You Must Eliminate

Hidden Costs for Banking Transactions

 

How profitable are your banking transactions? While the number of transactions is increasing at a steady rate for the modern bank, many of the transactions being carried out today are simply not profitable for the bank. The number of hidden costs associated with the transactions added to the overhead cost of facilitating those transacts eats the bank’s profits. If you are going to make a profit as a banking entity, you need to be able to find, and then eliminate, these costs. You also need to develop working strategies to handle the inevitable “zero revenue” transactions.

It’s important for banks to realize that most of the hidden costs are not cut­ and­ dried fees. They are the operated costs behind making the transaction. While you may pay $0.10 per mobile transaction, for example, you must realize the number of other costs you pay to complete that final transaction, including paying for the software, the people to run the software and the IT professionals who step in when the programming does not work. Here are some common types of transactions that have hidden costs that are eating your revenue.

Double Costs During Core Banking Renewal Periods

When you are making the transition between two core systems, you will often have a period of time when you are running two systems at the same time. This creates two parallel costs from the two parallel core systems. With separate software monitoring and reporting on the old and new programs, you end up with double the expenses.

How can you avoid these costs? When making the transition from an old core banking system to a new one, explore opportunities to use one monitoring system for both systems. Not only will this lower costs, but it also gives you more accurate results, as you will have the same type of data from both the old system and the new system.

Fees in Mobile Transactions

Today’s consumer demands an easy­ to ­use mobile experience, yet the customer ­facing experience is just a drop in the bucket of the entire mobile experience. The back­end processes can be quite complex and involve multiple systems in order to get back that transaction back to your bank. When implementing mobile transactions at your bank, make sure you understand all of the hidden handling costs across the process. This may go beyond the few cents advertised for the transaction by the service provider. Look for services with minimal handling costs and a good customer ­facing experience to make mobile banking both convenient for your customers and profitable for your bank.

Costs for Analytics

Your retail team relies on detailed reports to make wise sales decisions, but have you looked at how much those reports cost to produce? While not a fee, per se, these costs can limit your profits. Also, the labor ­intense processes often employed to create analytics can cause the data, which your retail professionals rely so strongly on, to be outdated and ineffective.

Finding more efficient ways to gather and use this data will help limit costs and increase productivity. Finding Problem Transactions Problem transactions are a costly fact for today’s banks. Sadly, the fees charged to the customer do not come close to covering the fees paid by the bank to track down the problem, in almost every instance. Add to this a marketing push to cut overdraft fees and fees for bounced checks, and you have a costly situation for the bank. Making this area of your bank more efficient will help cut down on the constant fees that make these problem transactions a true drain on your resources. This, in turn, will limit the number of zero revenue transactions your bank completes.

As a bank, you must learn to track down these hidden costs in order to remain competitive and profitable. Find, and then eliminate, these costs to make your bank as efficient and effective as possible.

Will the Eliminating Risk Retention Provision of the Dodd-Frank Act Bring Back Risky Mortgages?

Will the Eliminating Risk Retention

 

The Wall Street Journal headline reads “More Risky Loans Allowed.” It is a non­ subtle “shot” at Washington for eliminating the risk retention provision, once a primary component of the Dodd­-Frank Act, forcing mortgage lenders to retain, at least, a small percentage of every mortgage sold into the secondary market. The focus was to effectively prevent another housing bubble, replete with its unfortunate “boom and bust” features.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, in its attempts to expand credit and lending, supports lowering down payment minimums back to three percent. Late October 2014 also saw the Federal Reserve (and other regulators) approve rules that permit private mortgage­-backed securities with no down payments of any level. Dissenters note that bureaucrats should never be allowed to dictate terms of private contracts of any type.

New Congress Reforms?

Since the midterm elections are now a fait accompli, it appears the new Congress is charged with creating significant reforms in the housing market financing arena. Until or unless that happens, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) will still dominate the housing finance market, as they have in the past.

The original Dodd­-Frank Act (2010) referenced “qualified mortgages,” as those eligible for sale or securitization in the government­ related mortgage financing market. Qualified mortgage sales included a provision that forced lenders to retain a percentage, originally at least five percent, of the mortgages they sold.

The theory: Instead of selling 100 percent of their mortgages, leaving zero risk for banks and other direct lenders, they would retain some risk of default, unlike the unbridled lending in the residential market during the first decade of the 21st century. After passage of the Dodd­-Frank Act, the common phrase became “everyone has skin in the game,” noting that all participants had some risk for losses.

Skin in the Game—Or Not?

The Wall Street Journal calls the new rules, the “no ­skins game,” since borrowers need not have any deposit and lenders need not retain risk. The regulators continued to use the phrase “risk retention rules,” even as they waived the original minimum retained ownership regulations.

When the new Congress debates mortgage reforms, it will face mounting pressure to eliminate the no risk modification before a new housing bubble rears its dangerous head. Reforms that stimulate safer lending are welcome; another housing bubble and the inevitable meltdown that follows are not.

Another “feature” of the new rules may be even more damaging to the business community. Regulators mandated lender risk retention for “leveraged loans.” This financing involves bank loans to companies already carrying heavy debt loads.However, regulators placed the five percent risk retention rule on the buyers, not sellers, of these contracts.

Opponents rail that there is neither logic nor accountability on the banks or lenders making these risky loans.

Regulator Motivation

Whatever the regulators’ motivation, an unintended consequence may potentially surface. This initiative may well discourage lending to commercial organizations. Should investors rebel at the percentage of leveraged loans in collateralized loan obligations (CLOs), the market for loan purchases may dry up. Lenders would then be forced to keep business loans in their portfolio, while assuming all of the risk of default. Since the Fed has now ceased its massive investment in mortgage securities and CLOs, the potential problem could quickly escalate. With low credit spreads already squeezing profit margins, adding further risk to questionable loan packages could turn off the secondary market faucet. Christopher Dodd (Senate Banking Committee) and Barney Frank (House Financial Services Committee) had envisioned a much different outcome for their Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Intended to consolidate regulatory agencies, better safeguard financial markets and create tools for managing financial crises. The Dodd-­Frank Act objectives appear to be sidestepped in the latest regulatory action.

Profitability and Asset Preservation

Although profitability remains a primary goal of banking institutions, the lessons learned during the housing and mortgage crisis taught many about the equal importance of asset protection. It appears that, before the housing bubble burst, even experienced lenders may have downplayed the asset preservation factor. The recent regulator actions may give Congress stronger incentives to modify, if not rewrite, the Dodd­-Frank Act, including addressing the repeal of the well­-intentioned “risk retention” provisions. While some of those new to the banking industry may welcome the lack of “risk retention” regulations, seasoned bankers who lived through the Great Recession understand the major role asset preservation plays in keeping financial institutions strong, stable and viable.

Millennials Find Saving Difficult Even Though They Want To

Millennials Finding Saving Difficult

Millennials, those between the ages of 18 and 34, are a target market for a lot of banks. These are the consumers who have years of saving and investing ahead of them. Yet a recent report from USA Today found that these young adults, in spite of a financially responsible mindset, are finding it difficult to save and invest.

In the report, USA Today partnered with Bank of America to perform the Better Money Habits poll of Millennials. The group surveyed 1,001 people in the 18­34 age group to determine what they believed about finances and how they were acting on those beliefs. Interestingly, the reports findings were a mixed message.
In the survey, Millennials reported feeling that they had good financial habits and were planning to live better off than their parents as older adults. Yet the report also found that a third of those surveyed were receiving regular financial support from their family. While they indicated they lived “within their means,” the report also found that many were living paycheck to paycheck.

Most interesting to banking professionals is the emphasis on getting rid of debt that this demographic had. This means that banking professionals need to target these consumers in another area, and many are turning to savings as their target product to offer to Millennials, but this may not be effective. According to the survey, many of this demographic are still unable to put away money for their emergency savings while also reducing debt, so they were having to choose between the two priorities.

Millennials Want to Save

According to the report, Millennials do want to save. In fact, 69 percent of those surveyed indicated they had a savings account, but most of them had less than $5,000 in that account. To top that off, 41 percent are stressed about not being able to put enough money away for the future. Yet, not many indicated they were successful at saving. Only 36 percent indicate they are excellent at saving money. So the desire is there, but the ability and knowledge to achieve that desire is not.

The Cause of this Struggle

What has caused so many Millennials to struggle to save, even though they want to? Some will say it is the job market. The market has been slow to improve, and wages have stagnated especially for entry-class workers. Students are graduating with th
ousands of dollars of debt that they have to begin paying off immediately. The end result is a demographic that is knowledge-rich and cash-­poor.

How Banks Can Help

As a bank, how can you help Millennials realize their desire to save while living within the confines of their current financial situation? The answer is two-­fold. First, the bank needs to focus on providing education. Millennials are used to living for the now. They are not focused on the future, and they need to be given some education about the need to focus on the future. Targeting this demographic with informative marketing materials or the services of a certified financial planner can help.

Second, these savings solutions need to be easy. In order to save, busy Millennials in the heart of their careers need it to be automatic. Encouraging them to sign up for automatic drafts, for instance, will ensure that they are consistent with saving.

Remember, Millennials are not failing to save because they don’t want to. They are failing to save because they don’t feel like they can. Provide them a way to do it that is reasonable and in line with the current financial situation, and watch as you gain more and more of these long-term accounts.