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Striving to be the Nation’s Most Paperless Bank

By: Peter Setaro

First National of the Gulf Coast was started with the idea that it wanted to be paperless, not only for efficiency but also as part of its legacy as an institution and corporate citizen. The Naples, Fla.-based bank did not want to be saddled with any legacy systems and chose technologies that would take it 10 years into the future. Imaging is at the core of all the ancillary automation it deployed. Each solution supports the philosophy of being totally paperless.

The Paperless Customer Experience

More than 50 percent of the bank’s customers receive bank statements digitally, and that number is growing daily. The customers love this technology. New customers are automatically enrolled in e-statements and Internet banking. There are no cabinets in the bank, no large file drawers, no library of three-ring binders full of documents. The only paper the bank holds are documents like titles or notes. Areas that were normally known for producing large quantities of paper, like loan processing and finance, have image-scanning stations in their respective departments.

The bank leverages Internet banking, mobile remote deposit capture, image and document management solutions, and teller virtualization to increase organizational efficiency and customer value, all while reducing paper use. Any paper source ends up as an image.

Even U.S. Mail Is Paperless

The bank does not even distribute incoming paper mail. Incoming customer mail is scanned and sent to the individual. If it needs to be shredded, it is deleted. If it needs to be kept (part of a loan file or deposit relationship), it is commited to the document management platform and is archived in the bank’s image solution. Any document that is a paper source ultimately ends up as an image, including incoming paper mail.

Paperless Branches

The Synergy Enterprise Content Management platform enables FNB of the Gulf Coast to securely capture, retrieve, store and distribute electronic documents, check images and report data. This solution supports virtually all types of electronic information, including reports, scanned images, PDFs, photos, sound files, application documents such as Microsoft Word and Excel, and essentially any electronic file that is in an industry-standard format. Because of this solution, there is no paper exchange in the bank’s branches.

Normally, customers give their checks and paper deposit slips to the teller to process. When First National’s customers come to the line with a paper check, the teller creates a virtual deposit slip for them. Likewise, forgetting deposit slips is no longer an issue. Customers just bring identification and tellers create digital deposit slips for them.

Similarly, capturing images at the teller line minimizes the need for corrections after the fact. For example, let’s say a customer thought he added 10 checks for $5,000, but it was really $500. In the past, the customer would get a “correction of deposit” a day or two later, which would cause a great deal of customer angst. In the virtual environment, deposit items are balanced immediately and the customer gets a receipt for those items at the bank, so there are no surprises a day or two later.

Electronic Workflow

As opposed to having daily reports printed out each day, the bank’s executive management reports are emailed and archived digitally each day. No one has to print anything to review documentation. For compliance reasons, many documents have to be reviewed and signed. The bank has automated and digitized those processes so that electronically each document shows who reviewed it, when and annotated with a digital sign-off. The Jack Henry system allows personnel to embed notes in the documents as well. A workflow that could take days or weeks now takes 20 minutes to complete.

The bank’s regulators love this paperless environment also. Instead of teams of people running around with boxes of paper for auditors to review, the bank gives auditors seven terminals, full review authorization of the systems, 10 minutes of tutorial and they have everything they need. The auditors never say, “show me the authorization page for this” or “bring me the binder where you keep the minutes from the board reports.” Every single document they need is searchable in the archive and as easy to find as doing a Google search.

Additional Green Initiatives

1. First National is part of the city’s recycling program. It sorts all paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and metal from general trash.

2. It supports a green IT environment. The computer room and COLO facility utilize virtualization technology corporate-wide for a 30 percent savings in utility and maintenance support.

3. It supports remote access to work from home. This not only allows it to be flexible with its most precious resource — its employees — but it also gives the bank the ability to have resources available as needed.

4. It currently supports a green environment company-wide by encouraging and educating staff to use electronic media instead of printing paper. First National also has a facilities department that uses energy-saving lighting elements to help decrease its electrical needs. This works in conjunction with lighting systems that turn on and off automatically as rooms are occupied.

Peter Setaro is executive vice president and chief information officer of First National of the Gulf Coast, Naples, Fla.

Copyright (c) January 2012 by BankNews Media