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Q: Are Resources Available to help Financial Institutions with Business Continuity Management?​

A: Yes. The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council Agencies Maintain Various Up-To-Date Business Continuity Management Resources.

Business continuity management (BCM) is the process by which a financial institution implements resilience, continuity, and response capabilities to safeguard employees, customers, and products, and services from cyber events, natural disasters, and man-made events. A financial institution should consider whether it has allocated sufficient resources to developing its BCM policy, reviewing BCM on an annual basis, and ensuring that BCM is kept up to date and all employees are trained and aware of their role in its implementation. 

Pandemic preparedness is also an important part of business continuity planning. Financial institutions should consider whether their BCM address the threat of a pandemic outbreak and its potential impact on the delivery of critical financial services. Specifically, a financial institution should have a business continuity plan that addresses pandemics and provides for a preventative program that includes:

  • A documented strategy scaled to the stages of a pandemic outbreak, 
  • A comprehensive framework to ensure the continuance of critical operations, 
  • A testing program, and
  • An oversight program to ensure that the plan is reviewed and updated. 

The pandemic segment of BCM must be sufficiently flexible to address a wide range of possible effects that could result from a pandemic and also be reflective of the institution's size, complexity, and business activities.

For additional BCM resources consider the following:

Birrenkott is WBA assistant director – legal. For legal questions, please email wbalegal@wisbank.com.

Note: The above information is not intended to provide legal advice; rather, it is intended to provide general information about banking issues. Consult your institution's attorney for special legal advice or assistance.

By, Amber Seitz

If experience is the best teacher, then Wisconsin banks have learned a lot about business continuity planning and disaster recovery over the past two years. Several institutions put their business continuity plans to the test in the wake of disasters. Three of them—Fox River State Bank, Burlington, Bank of Sun Prairie, and Park Bank, Madison—spoke with WBA about what they learned in the process. 

Under Two Feet of Water – Fox River State Bank

Fox River State Bank

Pictured above: Fox River State Bank after the flooding. 

Southeastern Wisconsin received torrents of rain over several days in early July 2017. On July 12, Fox River State Bank President and CEO Keith Pollek drove to work on flooded streets and arrived to an underwater parking lot and water coming out the front door of the bank. After the nearby Fox and White rivers flooded further, the building ended up under 21 inches of water, despite sandbagging and other prevention efforts. 

Burlington-based Fox River State Bank's SVP/COO Jeff Schmid, who also serves as the bank's disaster recovery officer, was on a train coming back from New Mexico when the flooding occurred. He called in via cell phone to the recovery planning meeting where officers of the bank reviewed the disaster recovery plan he had created. The plan called for a team made up of officers who brought personal laptops and printers, and each team member had a flash drive with key information and websites that they use frequently. "We were able to operate out of our second branch in Lake Geneva because of that," Schmid explained. 

Another key feature of the plan: Schmid developed it anticipating flooding as the primary risk to the bank, due to its geographical location. He also utilized outside resources as a guide, including Lessons Learned from Katrina from the FFIEC and FDIC. "The disaster recovery plan was not something I just sat down and penned one day," he said. 

That foresight and preparation paid off. Although the full recovery took longer, Fox River State Bank was only closed for four days. Both Pollek and Schmid gave a great amount of credit to employees, directors, and their families for that achievement. 

Main Street Devastation – Bank of Sun Prairie

Main Street Sun Prairie

Pictured above: Main Street Sun Prairie after the explosion. Photo courtesy of John Hart, Wisconsin State Journal.

Unlike a flooding disaster at a bank located at the juncture of two rivers, some disasters are completely unpredictable… like a catastrophic explosion. A breached gas main led to the earth-shaking blast on July 10, 2018 that leveled several buildings in downtown Sun Prairie, including the Barr House pub, who's owner Capt. Cory Barr, a volunteer firefighter, lost his life in the explosion. 

The explosion decimated buildings a block away, but the Bank of Sun Prairie's downtown branch received comparatively little damage—mostly dust and debris. Instead, the challenge facing the bank was safety; to reduce the chances of additional explosions, the city cut power to the entire area, effectively turning off the bank's main infrastructure, including its servers and phone system. "We didn't have access to anything," said Chris Berdan, vice president of information technology at the Bank of Sun Prairie. "Everything was down." Fortunately, power was restored shortly after the bank initiated its network disaster recovery plan as part of its business continuity and disaster recovery plan. 

Not all aspects of the plan went as smoothly. "Everyone was sorting out the most important thing we needed to take care of next, particularly for the customers," said Dena Hineline, AVP-deposit operations manager at the Bank of Sun Prairie. "We were prioritizing on the fly." For example, staff were moved to the bank's location on Grand Avenue for a week, per the disaster recovery plan, but that location only had 12 computers. "Once the city let us back into the branch for a few minutes, I grabbed every spare laptop that we had," Berdan said. "You can have the best plan in the world, but if you don't have the equipment to execute it, you can't." Moving forward, Berdan is stocking each branch location with what he called a "disaster recovery kit": extra laptops, monitors, and networking equipment for displaced staff. "That will allow us to set people up at different locations," he said. "Without equipment, you're inoperable."

The disaster also exposed areas of the plan that had unintended consequences when followed. Normal operations for the bank is to route all calls through their switchboard. However, the disaster recovery plan called for routing all calls to the Grand Avenue location, where every phone in the branch would ring for every call. "We didn't know if we'd have a switchboard," Berdan explained. "Thankfully, we were able to set Jackie—our switchboard operator—up at a different cubicle and reroute everything to her, so we were back to normal operations within a few hours." 

Ultimately, the bank's disaster recovery plan provided a foundational checklist to follow, but staff discovered the need to re-order items based on urgency. "Plans are great for a reference point, but in the heat of the moment you need to identify the best next step and the customer priority," Hineline explained. She recommends going through the bank's disaster recovery plan (at a high level) with the entire team in order to expose areas that may have been overlooked. "It's a good strategy so everyone knows what to expect," she said. "Things that might seem obvious to me, like having tokens offsite, can be easy to miss." However, having a plan can help the bank and staff be better prepared for the unexpected. "You never think it's going to be you until it is," Hineline said.

Flooded Foundation – Park Bank

Flooding in Middleton

Pictured above: Flooding in Middleton near Park Bank's branch location. Photo courtesy of Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Madison area received over a foot of rain on Aug. 21, 2018, after nearly a week of heavy rainfall. The deluge flooded many streets and buildings, including the office structure housing the Middleton branch of Madison-based Park Bank. Fortunately, the branch itself sustained no damage. Unfortunately, two million gallons of water flooded the basement and parking garage, where the majority of the building's mechanicals were located. Staff likely will not be able to re-enter the building until sometime in January 2019, according to Park Bank IT Systems Officer Jeffrey Kurek, who is also a member of the 2018-2019 WBA Technology/Operations Committee. 

Their centralized technology systems prevented the bank from experiencing significant impact, Kurek explained. "We don't have infrastructure in branches, so we have an environment where anyone can work from anywhere [teller transactions excluded], whether that's from home or in a branch," Kurek explained. Lenders, for example, simply went to a different office location and signed in. 

The bank, using their disaster recovery plan, was able to navigate through tasks that needed to be completed in order to minimize the impact on clients. "The plan is a framework," Kurek said. "The components may not go in the order you have laid out, because you might not be able to get information at specific times in order to execute certain tasks, but the key components will all be there." 

"The biggest impact is client-facing," Kurek continued. The main disruption for clients was being unable to go to the Middleton location to conduct transactions, revealing the areas in which branches are still important for certain clients. 

The key to success, Kurek said, is to incorporate business continuity and disaster recovery planning into the bank's standard technology and operational activities. "Continually adjust your plan," he advised. "As you update new technology and processes, include business continuity planning in the process. Make it part of the standard process, so if something happens, it has less of an effect on daily operations." 

Community Impact

All three institutions commented on the impact the disaster had on their community, as well as the impact the community had on the bank's recovery. Other Burlington-area banks offered to share teller lines and lend equipment to Fox River State Bank. "About a dozen small community banks reached out to ask what they could do to help," said Pollek. In Sun Prairie, the bank led community recovery efforts, setting up a relief fund to help those affected by the tragedy. "We had a whole team dedicated to looking at how we could help the community," said Hineline. "We had dozens of people stop into our Grand Avenue branch and ask what they could do to help," Berdan added.

By, Amber Seitz

Events

Legal Foundations in Banking presents the underlying legal structure for conducting the business of banking. The course covers key legal requirements affecting banks and bankers, as well as core language that must be understood to be effective. It provides the critical legal knowledge that every banker should know.

Learning Outcomes and Objectives: 

  • Understand the basic foundation for transaction processing and deposits
  • Identify the key areas that encompass the legal risks banks face
  • Provide a foundation for determining safety and soundness requirements to provide protection to the bank
  • Establish a framework for sound practices and understanding of financial transactions and their requirements

IMPORTANT: Be sure to order the required book for this course, Legal Foundations, if you did not already purchase it. We recommend that you FIRST select and add your course session to the shopping cart, then select your preferred format of book from the “Recommended Training” options that appear alongside the shopping cart.

Price: $550

Legal Foundations in Banking presents the underlying legal structure for conducting the business of banking. The course covers key legal requirements affecting banks and bankers, as well as core language that must be understood to be effective. It provides the critical legal knowledge that every banker should know.

Learning Outcomes and Objectives: 

  • Understand the basic foundation for transaction processing and deposits
  • Identify the key areas that encompass the legal risks banks face
  • Provide a foundation for determining safety and soundness requirements to provide protection to the bank
  • Establish a framework for sound practices and understanding of financial transactions and their requirements

IMPORTANT:  Be sure to order the required book for this course, Legal Foundations, if you did not already purchase it . We recommend that you FIRST select and add your course session to the shopping cart, then select your preferred format of book from the “Recommended Training” options that appear alongside the shopping cart.

Price: $550

Topics in analyzing source documents, recording business transactions in a journal and posting entries in a ledger. How to prepare a trial balance, gather adjustment data and complete a worksheet are covered, as well as how to prepare financial statements and post-closing entries.

This course is the recommended prerequisite for Analyzing Financial Statements.

The required textbook for this course is College Accounting, 13th Edition.

IMPORTANT:  Be sure to order the required book for this course.  We recommend that you FIRST select and add your course session to the shopping cart, then select your preferred format of book from the “Recommended Training” options that appear alongside the shopping cart.

Price: $471

Topics in analyzing source documents, recording business transactions in a journal and posting entries in a ledger. How to prepare a trial balance, gather adjustment data and complete a worksheet are covered, as well as how to prepare financial statements and post-closing entries.

This course is the recommended prerequisite for Analyzing Financial Statements.

The required textbook for this course is College Accounting, 13th Edition.

IMPORTANT:  Be sure to order the required book for this course.  We recommend that you FIRST select and add your course session to the shopping cart, then select your preferred format of book from the “Recommended Training” options that appear alongside the shopping cart.

Price: $471

During this basic course, we will review all the treasury management products and services that are available in the market. You will learn about the new products, technology, and authentication methods now available and decide which ones your business account holders may need based on their industry. You will learn strategies to cross-sell the right treasury management products your business account holders need from the start.

The bankers of today must be “lenders” as well as “deposit gatherers.” Community banks are searching for ways to increase core deposits and non-interest fee income: treasury management is the answer. In this course, you will gain a deeper understanding of how the sales, treasury management, IT, marketing, and deposit operations team members must collaborate to successfully sell and implement the products and services at your institution. We will cover the ideal organizational design for treasury management and how to incentivize the sales team.

You will walk away from this course with a deeper knowledge of treasury management, learn to conduct risk assessments on new products, and learn strategies to increase core deposits. You’ll also bring ideas back to your institution on how to market treasury management products and services to your business account holders and ways your team can work better together knowing how critical each area is to the success of the implementation and sale of these products and services.

Topics Covered:

  • Maximizing the account analysis statement as a tool to cross-sell and identify new fee income opportunities
  • Quick overview of all treasury management products and identifying enhancements focusing on each product’s benefits to businesses — the value
  • Identifying new products available that your business customers or members are asking for that you may be missing
  • How to determine which products you need to offer to your business customers or members based on industry
  • How treasury management integrates with technology, operations, marketing and sales teams
  • Ideas on how to market and brand your treasury management products
  • The ideal organizational design for treasury management and how to incentivize the sales teams
  • Process to implement treasury management products
  • How to choose the right digital payment strategy for your business clients or members (including Blockchain)

Target Audience:  Business bankers/sales team members who want to learn about treasury management products and their benefits to business clients, treasury management sales officers/specialists, deposit operations personnel, IT, and marketing staff. This course is also designed for presidents/CEOs who are looking for the ideal organizational structure for treasury management and looking for additional non-interest fee income as well as new core deposits.

Presenter
Marcia Malzahn, Malzahn Strategic

Registration Option
Live presentation $330

Recording available through June 10, 2022

How quickly your bank can get back to serving accountholders after a cybersecurity attack, hurricane, wildfire, pandemic, or flood often depends on the existing business continuity management (BCM) program. The FFIEC provided guidance regarding the contents of your program, but also emphasized the importance of a continuous cycle for assessing resiliency using a 10-step approach. As technology evolves so do the threats that could hamper an institution’s ability to provide financial services. Business continuity and resiliency plans create a game plan for minimizing interruptions during a crisis.

Your BCM program must keep pace with the emergence of new threats, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and the evolution of products and services. With this webinar, you’ll learn the examination procedures, resilience strategies, and how to incorporate the 10 steps of the business continuity lifecycle. Two other key components are communication with the board and your internal auditor’s role in assessing the BCM program’s design effectiveness. While disasters can’t be predicted, you can ensure your institution has a solid business continuity management program that will pass muster during an examination and be a valuable tool when disaster strikes!

Attendance certificate provided to self-report CE credits.

HIGHLIGHTS

Prepare to meet the 13 objectives outlined in the examination manual
Discuss the 10 steps of the business continuity lifecycle
Examine third-party service provider contracts for business continuity
Ensure the board receives adequate BCM program communication
Communicate the internal auditor’s role in assessing the BCM program’s design effectiveness
Consider new technologies and emerging threats for inclusion in the plan
Share resources with staff and accountholders during a disaster

TAKE-AWAY TOOLKIT

Business continuity contract considerations for technology service providers
Critical function worksheet in Excel
Threat risk assessment in Excel
Checklist for critical business continuity reporting to the board
Employee training log
Interactive quiz
NOTE: All materials are subject to copyright. Transmission, retransmission, or republishing of any webinar to other institutions or those not employed by your financial institution is prohibited. Print materials may be copied for eligible participants only.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?
This informative webinar will benefit compliance officers, compliance staff, internal auditors, risk management personnel, chief operating officers, chief risk officers, and those involved in third-party risk management.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER – ​Molly Stull, Brode Consulting Services, Inc.
Molly Stull began her career as a teller while working on her undergraduate degree and has continued working in the financial industry ever since. She has experienced the growth of a hometown bank, branch mergers, charter changes, name changes, etc. Molly has activated business resumption plans, performed secondary market quality control reviews, processed wires, filed SARs, and coordinated reviews with external auditors and examiners. Her favorite role has always been educating staff and strongly believes that if staff understands the reason for a process they will be more compelled to follow the procedures. Molly holds a bachelor’s from the University of Akron and an MBA from Ashland University.

REGISTRATION OPTIONS:

Live Webinar – $245
Recorded Webinar and Digital Download – $245 plus tax
Live Webinar, Recorded Webinar and Digital Download – $320 plus tax