By Bill Evers
Q: My financial institution implemented a board portal last year to help increase efficiency for board meetings, and it has definitely worked wonders. But I want to ensure we are using it to its full capacity. What else can online portals do?
A: Well, since you’ve already started using a web-based portal solution, you know it can provide your board of directors with secure, centralized access to a slew of confidential materials. This includes meeting minutes, trust and audit reports, loan delinquencies and voting archives—day or night, from anywhere. And, board portals provide a safe, simplified platform for communicating with your board.
Indeed, board portals are possibly the most popular type of online portals used by financial institutions. For board meetings, portals have made the printing and mailing of huge board packets a thing of the past. And beyond saving the related monetary resources and man hours, distributing board packets online means you needn’t worry about sensitive reports getting lost in the mail. A board portal not only keeps these reports highly secure, but also allows inaccurate data to be updated or new information added, even at the last minute.
Further, posting board materials on portals gives directors plenty of time to thoroughly digest the information and make sound business decisions. And if a past discussion item is brought up, they can quickly search for related terms to find all past references in the portal’s archives.
Otherwise, the meetings proceed much the same as always, with the addition of such greater advantages as allowing members who can’t be physically present to see the same materials and information as those who are.
For a financial institution, communicating with board members through an online portal is an efficient, cost-effective and, most importantly, highly secure means to keep them abreast of all aspects of a bank’s proceedings. Directors can view all current and historical materials the moment they’re posted, and receive alerts when new content becomes available. The portal also safeguards online voting and discussion threads, and lets you assign permissions to ensure documents reach only their intended audience.
And, directors can monitor such critical information as the status of troubled assets, liquidity, capital ratios and net income—information that changes daily.
But facilitating a safe, paperless boardroom is truly just the tip of the iceberg for secure portal technologies. Loan committee portals and employee intranets also provide an effective alternative for securely managing a variety of sensitive data and applications enterprisewide. These online portals require all the same safeguards as do board portals, including login and password verification, to ensure all materials remain protected.
Simplify Loan Committee Proceedings
A loan committee portal streamlines loan management activities by providing a protected location for committee members to save and store loan documents so they’re ready for board review.
For example, the committee can post loan materials on a portal workspace that’s dedicated to a particular loan, and notify committee members or directors that the loan requires their review and approval. Users are then able to review the loan data online, share comments with others, make personal notations and place their decision—which is instantly available for viewing by the loan committee and archived for future reference.
In addition, the loan committee can easily make revisions on the portal itself, allowing members to host paperless loan review committee meetings and reducing the need to circulate sensitive materials.
Streamline Employee Communications
When it comes to employee intranets, your institution can capitalize on several advantages. Intranets simplify document sharing to minimize hard copies, mailed materials, faxes and emails. And with their ability to centralize communication and resource distribution, they also can lead to enhanced collaboration and knowledge sharing as well as improved productivity, since employees have a more efficient way of interacting with each other across departments and branches. What’s more, this solution provides a number of human resource functions, including time-keeping and attendance, vacation tracking and policy management.
An employee intranet also offers your staff productivity tools to better assign, manage and track workflows and daily tasks.
Strengthen Regulatory Compliance
A critical point to remember is that, when partnering with an online portal provider, you must perform due diligence on your vendor’s security controls, including related proof, because examiners will ask for it.
That said, web-based portals offer several advantages from a compliance standpoint. Directors gain access to the most up-to-date, clickable regulatory changes, as well as convenient online compliance training. After all, no single entity is more accountable for, or deeply affected by, a compliance slip.
Portals also make examiners’ jobs easier by giving them greater accessibility to such organized and archived materials as board minutes and compliance manuals.
Finally, online portals add stronger compliance and efficiency to policy management, since they allow you to post up-to-date policies—and compel both directors and employees to accept or deny them, when necessary, with a simple click.
Bottom line—online portals stretch beyond the boardroom to benefit your financial institution’s entire staff, and put powerful technology at your fingertips. They save time, energy and money that can be put toward what counts—protecting the institution, employees and, of course, customers from unnecessary risk.
Bill Evers serves as senior business development director for CSI Regulatory Compliance, a role in which he leads initiatives for CSI Secure Connect. Bill holds extensive experience working with financial institutions to deploy board portals, employee intranets and other portal platforms. Through his diverse background in the industry, Bill helps financial institutions leverage technology to improve productivity, performance and profitability.