FIPCO partners with interface.ai

In this current world, customer connection comes at a premium. The pandemic changed many things and shifted customer behavior. Now customers who may have previously stopped by a branch to ask a question are seeking service through phone more and more. How can financial institutions manage the ever-increasing number of calls while still providing high-quality service?

FIPCO is proud to announce a new partnership with interface.ai. interface.ai’s artificial intelligence (AI)-Powered Phone Banking solves many of the problems faced by traditional call center, elevating the entire call center experience. The AI-Powered Phone Banking automates more than 60% of the financial institution’s call center calls using the industry’s first neural voice-powered AI assistant.

“We are thrilled to be able to partner with interface.ai to offer this world-class product to our customers,” said Pam Kelly, president of FIPCO. “We understand the need for effective service for everyone who calls an institution, while making sure call center staff are not overwhelmed and customers aren’t stuck waiting for help in a queue.”

The AI-Powered Phone Banking reduces call wait times, while increasing productivity and engagement. FIPCO and interface.ai will be hosting informational webinars on November 9 and 16 to demonstrate to capabilities of this solution.

To learn more about this solution and the upcoming demos, contact FIPCO Sales at fipcosales@fipco.com or 1-800-722-3498, option 5.

Upcoming Informational Webinars:

Date: November 9, 2021
Time: 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM CT

Date: November 16, 2021
Time: 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM CT

Cybersecurity graphic

By Cassandra Krause 

With a recent uptick in activity, ransomware attacks are a form of cyberattack that has been prevalent in recent news — and for good reason. The effects can be detrimental in terms of monetary loss and reputational damage to the victim. Ransomware is a type of malicious software (a.k.a. malware) that usually encrypts a victim’s files, and the bad actors have upped their game to steal the data first, then threaten to also publish the data to the public. Criminals set their sights on businesses with the goal of extorting money, making community banks prime targets. 

Organized crime networks are becoming increasingly sophisticated. In general, the risk of getting caught for cybercrimes is much lower than for traditional crimes like robbery, and the financial gains are far higher. Ransomware developers write and sell the software to other bad actors for a cut of the profits when they deploy it and collect ransom payment, usually in the form of cryptocurrency, which is hard to trace. Compromised data may also be used to open fraudulent lines of credit. 

“The U.S. is in a ransomware crisis right now,” said Jeff Otteson, vice president of sales at Midwest Bankers Insurance Services (MBIS), a subsidiary of the Wisconsin Bankers Association. He explained that it has created a hard insurance market with carriers tightening up on internal control requirements such as multifactor authentication (MFA) for privileged users (users with the ability to install software or change security settings on critical systems) and encryption of backups. 

In their 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report, IBM Security and the Ponemon Institute calculate that the average total cost of a data breach is $4.24 million, a 10% increase from 2020–2021. The per-record cost of personally identifiable information averaged $180. 

Prevention 

With the incredibly high stakes in mind, banks are dedicating significant resources to preventing malicious cyberactivity, both in terms of staff and money. Respondents to a 2020 Deloitte survey of financial institutions reported spending about 10.9% of their IT budget on cybersecurity on average, up from 10.1% in 2019. In terms of spending per employee, respondents spent about $2,700 on average per full-time employee (FTE) on cybersecurity in 2020, up from about $2,300 the prior year. 

“There is an industry-standard framework for ransomware prevention and all cybersecurity,” explained FIPCO’s Director InfoSec and Audit Ken Shaurette. FIPCO is also a WBA subsidiary. A good consultant will walk the bank through a comprehensive review of their network security, improving endpoint protection to replace traditional antivirus and endpoint detection solutions, including adding authentication improvements such as MFA, improved password strength, and protecting backups. As more and more of the digital tools that bankers utilize require users to download and install software and updates, depending on signature-based solutions for malware detection is not acceptable — it has become critical to safeguard user, file, network, and device-level activities. 

A bad actor gaining access to a bank’s data may encrypt the data and demand payment in exchange for granting access back to the bank. In this situation, having a data backup is essential.  

“The rule of thumb for data backups is 3-2-1,” said FIPCO Information Security and IT Audit Advisor Rob Foxx. “There should be three copies of all data stored on two different mediums. One of the copies should be stored off site.” 

Ransomware prevention is only one part of a complete cybersecurity system. Experts agree that early detection of unusual activity within a system can help keep a minor incident from quickly escalating into a major incident like a ransomware threat. 

“Ransomware isn’t the first attack,” said Wolf & Company, P.C. Manager of the I.T. Assurance Group Sean Goodwin, who recently presented at WBA’s Secur-I.T. Conference. “Ultimately, it’s on I.T. to put controls in place because an employee will inevitably fall for a phishing email. It becomes a question of whether we can catch that quickly.” 

Social engineering remains the greatest concern; it’s easier for bad actors to trick an employee rather than break through a firewall. Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report found that almost half of the breaches in the financial services industry involved internal actors committing various types of errors. The report stated that the financial sector frequently faces credential and ransomware attacks from external actors, 96% of which are financially motivated (followed by small percentages of motives of espionage, grudge, fun, and ideology). 

Goodwin emphasized that I.T. must be able to act quickly when there’s an indication that someone is accessing something they don’t normally access. “Prevention is ideal. If we can prevent it, that’s best-case scenario, but if not, early detection becomes critical,” he said. This area of solution, known as endpoint detection and response, is rapidly becoming a key point of protection from ransomware and all other malicious events. 

Establishing an incident response program within a bank is an important part of the overall cybersecurity program. 

Preparation 

Creating a culture of cybersecurity awareness throughout the bank is important, so that bank employees are prepared for an incident. Employee training on what to do in the event of an attack should be standard practice. Making security part of the organization’s DNA is a best practice. 

“Every bank needs an incident response plan, and that needs to be approved all the way up through the board. Part of this plan is notification of incidents to the insurance carrier,” said MBIS’s Otteson. 

FIPCO’s Foxx emphasized that the roles and responsibilities in the incident response plan must be clearly defined, and banks should revisit their plan regularly.  

“As the insurance agent, I’m the first call a bank makes when there’s an incident,” said Otteson. “It’s important that banks choose to work with an agency that understands cyber insurance.”  

MBIS insures about 220 banks and has access to a large number of carriers that provide the right coverage for their customers. Otteson recommends reporting all incidents as even a minor incident could result in a claim down the line and having reported that incident when it occurred is key to a successful claim. He says to keep in mind that the owner of the data is liable for it whether the incident occurred in house or with a vendor the bank shared customer data with. 

Mitigation 

It’s important to work with the insurance carrier to ensure that all the bases are covered and that the vendors who participate in the response are approved. Not using the cyber insurance carrier’s approved vendors may result in expenses not being covered under the insurance policy. In the event of a ransomware attack, the insurance agent or bank will immediately notify the insurance carrier. Beazley, a carrier partner of MBIS, maintains a 24/7 helpline, which has become common with other carriers as well. Knowing how to report incidents, when to report, and what to expect is key. 

Holidays and weekends are prime times for ransomware attacks: employees who are in a rush to leave may be more likely to click on a bad link, and with employees away from work, it’s easier for the bad actors to get into the network. Even if a problem is detected, it’s more likely that staff who could help put a stop to the attack may be on vacation or unavailable, buying the criminals more time to take over. 

As soon as a cyber liability claim is made, the insurance carrier’s pre-approved vendors come into play.  

“Nobody has the resources in house to effectively manage ransomware attacks,” said Foxx, who has experience working both within a bank and as an external auditor and consultant. The specialization of skills and the amount of people needed to perform adequate analysis and remediation are so significant that even large banks will not have all the players they need on staff. 

If a bank’s data becomes encrypted and made inaccessible, a vendor such as Tetra Defense would be engaged on forensics. Managed endpoint detection and response vendors such as Cynet can help from detection and prevention to response, including providing digital evidence for a vendor performing forensics. Meanwhile, a vendor such as Coveware would handle ransom negotiations with the criminals. Wolf & Company, P.C.’s Goodwin said that you don’t really know who’s on the other side of the transaction — some criminals may be willing to negotiate and others not. He referred to ransomware as a “niche space in cybersecurity that is now getting more attention.” The criminal organizations involved in these types of attacks in some ways act like a legitimate business in that they rely on their reputation and may even have customer service departments — if they fail, it will hurt their chances of getting more business in the future.  

Typically, in the event of a ransomware attack, a legal firm will handle communications and PR for the bank — putting a statement on the bank’s website, assisting staff with customer phone calls, and determining whom to notify. Getting legal involved early protects all communications and discovery with attorney-client privilege. The requirements for notification vary from state to state, and a bank may have customers in multiple states or even other countries, making the expertise of a legal team invaluable. The language used in communications matters, as the term “breach,” for example, can have different legal implications and potentially create larger issues than terms like “incident,” “situation,” or “event.” Education of staff far in advance using regular testing of the plan is a key factor in mitigating an incident. Inappropriate statements made by employees on social media or even at informal social gatherings can have severe ramifications for the bank. 

Follow Up 

While anyone who experiences a ransomware attack may be eager to breathe a sigh of relief and move on when it is over, it is essential to review the incident and revise the bank’s incidence response plan. Assessing what went well and what needs to be improved are critical steps.  

Goodwin also warns that victims of ransomware are commonly re-targeted. A Cybereason study found that 80% of organizations that previously paid ransom demands confirmed they were exposed to a second attack. He said that once a company has paid a ransom it is known that (1) you were compromised, (2) you do not have proper backups of your files, and (3) you were willing to pay. 

Summary 

Cyberattacks are the biggest risk to a financial institution — even surpassing the risk of past-due loans. The cost of a ransomware attack can be astronomical, with many factors contributing to the price tag, including vendor fees and staff hours to resolve the issue; the cost to inform customers and offer identity or other protections; the loss of destructed data; and the down time of the business. All of this, followed by the loss of customers’ trust (and subsequent loss of their business), has the potential to put a community bank out of business.  

There are safeguards banks can put in place, including a sound incident response plan, improved monitoring with better endpoint detection and response, cyber liability coverage, and employee education. FIPCOMBIS, and a wide range of WBA Associate Members are ready to support banks in keeping their data and that of their customers safe.  

According to analyst firm Gartner, extended detection and response (XDR) is a “SaaS-based, vendor-specific, security threat detection and incident response tool that natively integrates multiple security products into a cohesive security operations system that unifies all licensed components.”

You’ll hear plenty of the traditional vendors of antivirus begin to proclaim themselves as an endpoint detection and response (EDR) or XDR solution, trying to keep up with this more advanced tool space. As they continue to either buy up other vendors with the tool sets (then try to bolt them on to their traditional solution) or simply try to remake themselves in the model of an XDR solution in other ways, their final offering often has limitations. Typically, they’ll cover some but not all the areas of a complete XDR solution. They will address hosts and files but not network and users, or network and hosts but not files or users. They’ll miss some of that cohesive security operation defined by Gartner.

A recent article from HelpNetSecurity—a popular information security online publication—titled “XDR and MDR: What’s the Difference and Why Does It Matter?” made the following statement in closing: “An XDR solution without adequate human expertise/staffing behind it will only ever be a tool. With a managed services model in play, you’re getting both the comprehensive technology capabilities and the people required to make it work— which is why managed detection and response (MDR) may be the only acronym that your organization needs.”

This statement is very accurate for the less complete XDR offerings that do not include the managed and monitoring components in their solutions. They become like all the security information and event management (SIEM) and log management solutions that have been pushed at you for years, just becoming another tool that no one has expertise to manage or leverage the benefits that you bought it for. So, what do you have to do? One option is to buy the “managed services” from these tool vendors which can make banks dependent on them.

Another option is to research other solutions that are out there. In addition to Cynet, our Infosecurity consulting services suggest reviewing Gartner’s list of EDR solutions and offerings from WBA Associate Members when completing your due diligence. Complete solutions like Cynet360 include the backing of the Cynet CyOps team without needing to pay extra, bolt on more products, or go looking for the 24x7x365 expertise of another managed provider. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still depend on a managed services provider for another layer of monitoring and managing, but are they independent if they also are who you need to be monitoring? There’s nothing wrong with leveraging the additional layer you’ve come to depend on, but at what added cost to get the independence and expertise like that of a CyOps team that is already baked into the Cynet360 solution? You will still need to explain to your auditor and examiners that you’ve learned the tool adequately enough to understand and generate independent reporting of the activities of the managed third party.

At least when you are answering that questionnaire for your cyber insurance coverage, you’ll be able to check off ‘Yes’ on several questions because you implemented a powerful, more advanced endpoint protection solution.

Shaurette is FIPCO director infoSecurity and audit. Contact him at kshaurette@fipco.com or 608-441-1251.

By, Alex Paniagua

If you have been following along from my previous article titled “Property Evaluations – A New Opportunity Under Old Regulations” (Wisconsin Banker, April 2021), you will come to understand that appraisal requirements continue to be a critical part of credit underwriting, but with limited staff knowledge and expertise. This article explores a different view of an old regulation.

It is true that appraisal thresholds were increased in 2019, but that did not really offer much in the way of relief. In fact, by moving the needle on larger transactions that still require an appraisal, the fewer appraisals that are required and the more complex those appraisals become. Much like the real estate evaluation process, what skills, training, and certifications do your staff possess to accomplish the regulatory requirement of appraisal review? It was stated in my last article and worth repeating again: “If a bank employee reviews appraisals, the individual should possess the requisite education, expertise, and competence to perform the review, commensurate with the complexity of the transaction, type of real property, and market.” (Federal Reserve Bank)

Over the years, examinations have focused on the reasonableness of the facts and assumptions found in the appraisal and whether review of an appraisal provides a credible opinion of the value of the collateral. This is true for both residential and commercial real estate. As I am performing review services for the industry, I become increasingly concerned when I see nothing more than a simple checklist completed by an internal banker with limited knowledge of appraisal requirements and expectation of USPAAP standards. But there is hope on the horizon.

I have found that those banks that appear to be more efficient in their mortgage and commercial loan process have one thing in common: they outsource the appraisal review to third parties who remain independent of the appraisal completion and then pass along this cost to the customer. In these instances, the review appraiser does not need to state a second value opinion, rather they simply express an opinion on the quality of the appraisal received. Partnering with the right appraisal review company will be key, but at the end of the day you inherently improve the quality of your appraisal review process. The operational savings these banks enjoy really do impact the bottom line.

However, for those banks that choose to continue to conduct this process internally, I encourage the opportunity to train your staff on May 20, 2021. The Wisconsin Bankers Association is hosting a webinar called Residential Appraisal Review Start to Finish. Bankers will learn the appraisal rules, anticipate examiner expectations, implement strong review process, and take away necessary tools to do their job. You can find registration information at www.wisbank.com/events. Hope to see you there!

If you would like to learn more about becoming efficient or compliant in your loan processes, you can reach me at jschmid@fipco.com.

Schmid is FIPCO director – compliance and management services. Contact him at jschmid@fipco.com or 608-441-1220.

By, Alex Paniagua

MADISON, Wis. – Cassandra Krause has been hired as the communications manager at the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA). Krause serves as the association’s primary media contact and is responsible for overseeing internal and external communications for WBA.

Krause previously worked as director of communications and marketing at the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Prior to that role, she worked in international business and development in France, Cameroon, and Germany.

Originally from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Krause holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a master’s degree from the Goethe University Frankfurt.

Katie Reiser has been hired as administrative specialist at WBA. Reiser will support the legal and education departments.

Reiser previously worked in Audience Services with Wisconsin Public Media, which is home to Wisconsin Public Radio and PBS Wisconsin. Prior to that role, Reiser was member services director at the Wisconsin Restaurant Association where she led communications, member engagement, and retention efforts.

Reiser has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from State University of New York at Purchase and is originally from Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

“At WBA, we pride ourselves on hiring top talent and fostering a positive work environment,” said WBA President Rose Oswald Poels, who noted that the average length of service for current WBA employees is more than 14 years. “We are pleased to welcome Cassie and Katie on board and look forward to the contributions they will make to our membership and the industry.”

 

By, Cassie Krause

As banking operations have adapted to the demands of pandemic life (more remote work, broader digital interaction with third parties, etc.) institutions should reassess their defenses. Data breaches are on the rise despite the heavy security investments organizations make. If you are still relying on outdated antivirus protection solutions like signature-based architecture, your systems may be at risk.  

FIPCO offers a fully managed solution for Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR): Cynet 360.  

Cynet 360’s Sensor Fusion technology continuously ingests and analyzes endpoint, network, and user activity signals to deliver the world’s first autonomous breach protection platform, providing complete automation of monitoring and control, attack prevention and detection, and response orchestration.

Cynet’s autonomous breach protection solution defends your institution from complex, advanced attacks including malicious macros and exploits or redirection to malicious websites. This solution more accurately identifies suspicious and unauthorized activities than traditional antivirus solutions and enables a more proactive response and remediation of threats.  

Key benefits of Cynet 360 include:  

  • Speed: Fully operable within two clicks and auto-deploys on newly added machines with no human intervention  
  • Accuracy: Collects all core activity signals to gain clear insight into the unique context of each event, reducing false positives to a minimum  
  • Coverage: Airtight protection against all attack vectors that involve users, network files, and hosts  
  • Automation: The widest set of automated response workflows to any type of attack  
  • Backup: An elite time of 24/7 threat analysts and security researchers at Cynet’s Security Operations Center (SOC)

FIPCO and the Wisconsin Bankers Association are so confident in Cynet technology that it has been implemented at our offices, not simply to replace the traditional antivirus solution, but to enhance the overall security to better protect all endpoints. Cynet centralizes and automates breach protection across the entire environment.  

Is now a good time to replace your traditional antivirus solution? Call or email FIPCO Director – Information Security and Audit Ken Shaurette at 800-722-3498 ext. 251 or itservices@fipco.com today to take advantage of these services and ensure the safety and soundness of your business.  
 
Learn more at www.fipco.com/solutions/it-audit-security/autonomous-endpoint-protection.  

 

By, Alex Paniagua

Consumer adoption of digital payment methods has grown steadily for decades, and social distancing requirements amid the COVID-19 pandemic kicked that transformation into high gear. Community banks can position themselves for success by keeping abreast of developments in faster payments and strategically implementing solutions to continue delivering the exceptional customer experience for which they are known. 

Annual digital payments transactions are projected to top $1.5 trillion from nearly 280 million users by 2024. With the increase in volume and users has come elevated consumer expectations. “Consumers are operating in a faster payments world,” said Tina Giorgio, AAP, president and CEO of ICBA Bancard. Today’s consumers experience instant gratification in so many of their consumer-business interactions, it has become a standard which applies even to industries like finance. Consumers and business clients alike now expect to be able to pay friends or suppliers, settle bills, and transfer money whenever and wherever they choose.  

Giorgio will be presenting at the upcoming WBA Management Conference. Join us Sept. 15 for her session on the why, when, and how of a community bank’s digital payments strategy. Click here to register your entire team for one low price!

Since its inception, the applications for faster/real-time payments have continued to expand. “The use cases around faster payments are changing faster than the technology,” said Giorgio. A 2015 Deloitte study outlined five main categories: business to business, business to consumer, consumer to business, domestic peer to peer (P2P), and cross-border peer to peer. Of these five, the fastest growing (in the U.S.) is domestic P2P, with over 20 different application vendors in the market.  

One of those vendors, PayPal, reported a 29% jump in year-over-year volume in Q2 2020 and added 21.3 million net new active accounts (the strongest quarter for that measure in PayPal’s history). Of course, some of this growth can be attributed to COVID-19. “P2P is growing exponentially, even more so since the pandemic began,” Giorgio explained.  

In addition to P2P, banks should also consider applicable use cases in B2B, including a simplified vendor/supplier payment system, which currently involves purchase orders, invoices, checks, ACH, and other individual payment transactions.  

As faster payments technology develops, community banks have two primary roles to play, according to Giorgio. First, and most important, is staying informed and delivering value from new developments to customers. Second is participating in industry groups—such as the U.S. Faster Payments Council and the Federal Reserve’s Payments Improvement Community—to provide perspective and representation on issues affecting the industry and community banks, specifically.  

Implementing Faster Payments: Why, and How? 

Customer retention and enhanced customer experience are the two primary benefits for banks that implement faster payments solutions, according to Giorgio. “Having that available when it’s needed is a huge advantage,” she said. For example, to a small business that needs to deliver payroll but is experiencing cash-flow issues due to COVID-19, the ability to send funds instantly rather than days in advance is a liquidity live-saver. 

FedNow Service webinar scheduled 
FRB Services has scheduled a one-hour informational webinar on its FedNow instant payment service for Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 1:00 p.m. CT. Interested parties must register and submit any questions in advance. 

Despite growing competition from non-traditional lenders, consumers still look to their trusted financial services provider for payments services.  “If the bank offers a digital wallet or P2P solution, their customers will use the bank’s product rather than a fintech’s. “That’s the power of a pre-existing relationship,” Giorgio said. Those comments are supported by research from Ernst & Young which noted roughly 60% of consumers would turn to their existing bank first when considering a new financial services product.  

When it comes to implementing faster payments products and services, community banks must clear three hurdles:  

1: Define the strategy: Pursuing every faster payments product on the market isn’t feasible, so defining a strategic direction is essential to getting it right. “There’s so much out there, you have to figure out what your customers’ priorities are so you’re spending time and money on the right solutions,” said Giorgio. If your bank is just getting started in faster payments and you’re looking for the most critical first step, Giorgio recommends establishing the ability to accept faster payments. “Even if you’re not ready to start originating faster payments, you should determine what you need to do to be able to receive those transactions. Not having the ability to receive payments puts your customer relationships at risk.” 

2: Integrating tools: Banks rely on a core service provider, along with a collection of platforms and tools to deliver services and information to customers, so it’s critical to ensure any new faster payments technology integrates with essential legacy systems. “Interoperability is a challenge,” said Giorgio.  

3: Affordable Access: Finding a solution that is both functional and affordable for the institution and its customers can also be challenging. Fortunately, more banks have a wider array of technology partners to choose from as more legacy core systems shift toward interoperability as the default. “Many of the cores are now starting to open up their systems and allow integration through application interfaces [APIs], which allows banks to select any provider of a solution and integrate it into the core,” said Giorgio. This gives banks greater ability to find a partner that meets both quality and pricing requirements.  

With the faster payments landscape continuing to evolve, now is the time for community banks to leverage their relationships with technology partners and their own deep understanding of their customers to bring the high-tech, high-touch banking experience that will continue to differentiate them in the years ahead and deliver the services that their customers rely on.  

Seitz is WBA operations manager and senior writer.  

ICBA is a WBA Gold Associate Member.

By, Amber Seitz

Bankers understand risk management. That’s what the business of banking is all about, after all. Bankers accept the risk of protecting their customers’ funds and manage the risk of extending those funds out as loans to build the community. Without effective risk management, no bank can be successful.  

That’s why Wisconsin Bankers Association wholly owned subsidiary WBA Employee Benefits Corporation (EBC) partnered with the Minnesota Bankers Association nearly a decade ago to form Midwest Bankers Insurance Services LLC (MBIS). This partnership created an insurance agency dedicated to providing community banks with comprehensive insurance options.  

As an association-owned entity, ultimately the revenue generated by MBIS flows back to support the overall mission of WBA, which is to support you, our member banks. Another advantage of working with MBIS: we serve only you. The banking industry is the only market MBIS serves; its products are specifically tailored to banks’ insurance needs. All of MBIS’ financial products are designed to protect banks, their officers, directors, and employees from disasters of all kinds.  

Because MBIS is owned by your association, you can rest assured we’re working on your behalf and you can contact us with concerns. For example, recently, we have fielded questions from bankers wondering about the impact of the current pandemic on pricing for their D&O liability policy renewals. Some experts have stated they expect increases of nearly 50% as a result of emerging claims related to COVID-19.  

Our response: while the D&O markets are a bit shaken right now, the banking sector has not seen the significant premium increases other areas have. However, some carriers are tightening in various ways, including more disciplined risk selection, increased retentions, lack of three-year prepay options, and narrower terms and conditions. 

MBIS’s lead D&O carrier, AmTrust, continues to offer broad terms, conditions, and less-than-market pricing with three-year prepay options. The MBIS-negotiated D&O forms have been broader than what we have experienced with policy forms negotiated by other agencies.  

For more guidance and insight like this, you need to work with an agency that knows banking as well as it knows insurance. That’s MBIS.  

Find out how MBIS can help your bank manage risk, and join our over 200 bank clients in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota in enjoying peace of mind. Contact Jeff Otteson at 608-217-5219 or jeffo@mbisllc.com today. 

Lund is WBA executive vice president – chief of staff and president of EBC and MBIS. 

By, Amber Seitz

FIPCO Compliance & Management Services: ShareFI

FIPCO Compliance Services, ShareFI, extends beyond the compliance resources already offered through the Wisconsin Bankers Association, like legal calls and the WBA Compliance Journal. Through consulting, coaching, and customized regulation reviews, we deliver practical, step-by-step process improvements, actionable recommendations, and comprehensive staff training – all at a reasonable cost.

ShareFI's variety of services are designed to meet the needs of small- to mid-size financial institutions—including many WBA member banks. Banks who choose FIPCO's ShareFI as their risk and operations management solution will receive consulting, guidance, and shared services from industry experts. Leading the team is Jeff Schmid, who joined FIPCO on July 15 after over three decades of experience in bank compliance and operations, including the examination procedures of FDIC, FRB, and OCC as well as governmental advocacy.

"Many of the other third-party firms who offer these types of services take a one-size-fits-all approach," Schmid explained. "They look at every bank as though it's a billion-dollar bank." ShareFI is designed to allow banks to right-size their experience, utilizing shared services (such as credit analyst roles) and one-off contracts, which are ideal to fill the gap between an unexpected departure and a new hire. It also levels the talent playing field for banks who are not large or complex enough to need full-time compliance staff, enabling them to access the talent and expertise of tenured, certified compliance personnel. 

ShareFI's team of experts will offer services and consulting in two main areas: compliance and management. The compliance side includes services such as risk management, loan review, and BSA review and support. On the management side, banks will have access to assistance with strategic planning, planning and implementing continuous improvement initiatives (such as transitioning to digital file storage), and core review. "We want to help banks find what's right for them," Schmid said of the core review services. "When those contracts come up, having an expert on your side is invaluable."  

ShareFI also features FIPCO's industry-famous customer service and dedication to client success. Unlike some third-party firms who will engage, review, report, and then leave, ShareFI's experts will continue to engage with the bank's management team and continuously report. "Examiners are looking for that ongoing reporting," Schmid explained. "We'll also help banks set up compliance policies if needed. It's about providing long-term support."

Request more info here!

Questions: please contact Jeff via email or 608-441-1220 to discuss what FIPCO's ShareFI can do for your institution.

By, Jen Harder

WBA Insurance Services Resources To Help You Win

It is nearly impossible to drive to and from work these days without noticing the "Now Hiring" signs in front of businesses. The signs may even list catchy phrases like "Great Benefits and Wages," as well. Your employees notice these signs, too. To attract and retain talent, bank employers must offer high-quality benefits as well as competitive wages. 

Many of you as HR professionals or CFOs have just gone through another year of health renewals for your business. The challenge of what to change in the form of deductibles and back-end risk for your employees seems to be a never-ending balancing act. It can be a difficult process to make those decisions and explain them to employees. One tool that can help banking HR professionals navigate renewals is the Wisconsin Banking Industry Compensation and Benefits Report, the largest Wisconsin-specific report; it contains salary and benefit information for 113 different jobs with data from 111 participating Wisconsin banks. The report is an excellent tool to help banks compare their benefit packages with peers. Visit www.wisbank.com/WIcompensation for more information or to purchase your copy of the report and to learn about participating in the 2019 report.

Another strategy to help create increased employee satisfaction and engagement is the idea of a "Benefit Stipend." It is a simple concept where the employee gets a set amount of premium dollars to use on supplemental coverages that the employee deems to be important to them. While many banks importantly provide company-paid life insurance and long-term disability coverage, these are plans that some employees may not see the immediate value today.  Providing your employees with access and some financial assistance to take care of pressing medical costs like deductibles and coinsurance gives them a greater feeling of financial security as a bank employee. 

Benefit stipends for supplemental insurance can start out at $5 to $10 per week and can be set up in a way to be used for plans that range from Accident, Hospital, and Critical Illness. WBA EBC is now offering a special pricing partnership with Aflac for bank employees to take advantage of these supplemental insurance plans. These benefit stipends can be designed to reflect length of service; with more tenured employees eligible for a higher amount which creates another value proposition for longevity of employment. 

Here at the WBA, we would love to talk to you about creative ways that a benefit stipend and other programs can help you maintain long-term employee relationships. WBA EBC has many product lines for your employees, including our WBA AHP, dental, vision, life/disability, and other ancillary products to help banks attract and retain the best talent. To start that conversation, please contact Brian Siegenthaler at 608-441-1211 or via email.

Lund is WBA executive vice president – chief of staff and president of EBC and MBIS.

By, Amber Seitz