How Evans Bank Manages 4x the Alerts with the Same Number of Staff Using BAM+
Choosing the Right Technology Partner for Growth
There were 271 mergers announced in 2019 – the busiest year since 2015, according to data from Compass Point and S&P Global Market Intelligence. Many banks and credit unions turn to M&A as a vehicle for growth. With that burst in growth, however, financial institutions must have the strategies and tools in place to scale accordingly.
Evans Bank, a community bank with $1.4 billion in assets, has undergone significant growth in recent years, both organically and through acquisitions. Growth, no matter the source, brings its fair share of challenges and obstacles for different departments within a bank. One of those challenges is balancing risk with growth, which often falls on the shoulders of BSA departments. To scale a BSA department to match the surge in growth, many financial institutions look towards technology.
Choosing a technology partner is no small feat with so many vendors available today. For Chris Nowak, VP, BSA Officer at Evans Bank, a big priority was finding a solution that integrates with its core system. Evans Bank ultimately decided on Abrigo’s BAM software, later upgrading to BAM+ in 2018. “Abrigo was able to accommodate for our homegrown core system, which shows that they were able to adapt and change, and be customizable for us, which was really important to us,” Nowak said.
Scaling the BSA Program with BAM+
By implementing BAM+, Evans Bank has been able to enhance its BSA program while satisfying regulators and auditors. As the workload has grown, BAM+ has been a pivotal asset in efficiency gains. “The time savings associated with BAM+ is immeasurable,” Nowak said. Rather than only look at alerts over a period of time, BAM+ allows Evans Bank’s BSA department to pinpoint specific transactions – a huge time savings. “We’re able to look at more alerts and identify trends and patterns that we were never aware of in the past. It’s helped increase the quality of the workload for my team and make us more efficient all around.”
The time savings and efficiency gains are especially critical when the volume of alerts increases, but the size of the BSA department remains the same. Since 2015 when Nowak joined Evans Bank, it has nearly doubled in size. The team of five is now responsible for four times the amount of alerts with the same capacity as they had before. “We’re a small team, but we’re growing, and we’re using BAM+ to locate things and find things much easier than we ever could before,” Nowak acknowledged. The ability to pinpoint specific transactions to focus on has enabled the team to handle the significant increase in workload.
“BAM+ has been alongside us in that growth and has helped us handle and manage that increase in volume. There are challenges – there always will be – but having a partner like Abrigo, where you have personal relationships with the staff there, we’re able to partner and solve things a little quicker.”
BAM+ to Ease the Challenges of Acquisition
Evans Bank is continuing its rapid growth, this time, in the form of an acquisition. The bank recently purchased an institution that is roughly a third of its size. The newly acquired bank is in a nearby city, bringing in a new customer base. Nowak is excited to leverage BAM+ to manage new, less familiar customers.
“Using the BAM+ software is really going to help us identify who, based on the model that we have established, the true high-risk customers are,” he said. “We understand that there will be challenges that come with this acquisition, but we’re excited to see how the BAM+ software will help us scale, from filtering and monitoring customers to tracking everything automatically in BAM+.”
With the acquisition, the BSA department will also add a BSA staffer to help accommodate the growth. Nowak praised BAM+ and its user-friendliness, and he expects a smooth transition for the new addition to the team. On top of its intuitive design, BAM+ also features links to information such as regulations, the FFIC manual, and other resources that help users to know why they may be getting a certain alert. “The resources within BAM+ helps coach new employees and aids the learning curve of adapting to new software,” said Nowak. “It alleviates the need for new employees having to approach me or someone else on the team to ask questions when it can easily be located within the BAM+ software.”
As Evans Bank continues to grow, the volume of alerts will also continue to increase, but the BSA team is hard at work, ensuring that they have the proper controls in place to maintain effective, risk-based policies in their BSA program. BAM+ is giving the Evans Bank BSA department confidence in their growth and their ability to keep regulators and auditors satisfied.