Sterling National Bank (SNB) is a provider of banking and financial services to consumers and businesses in the greater New York Metro, Hudson Valley and New Jersey regions. SNB was recently listed as #36 in Forbes Magazine’s annual listing of America’s best banks. The bank has reached $14.2 billion in assets with earnings of $145.5 million after making several strategic acquisitions over the past 5 years. SNB focuses on serving middle-market companies and affluent consumers.
Sterling employs a team-based strategy in which each client is served by a relationship team that provides a single point of contact for delivering the bank’s products and services and manages all aspects of the client relationship.
Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) was using a budgeting solution that came with the Bank’s core banking platform product for their annual budgeting process and monthly branch and team reporting. The platform was well suited for a smaller bank, but as the Bank grew the product required manual intervention that became a drain on valuable FP&A resources. In order to support the Bank’s current and future needs the Bank decided that it needed a solution that was more robust than current product with faster consolidations.
The Director of Finance at SNB had a history with Oracle® Essbase™ and felt that an Essbase engine was the answer to improving his team’s productivity, accuracy, and transparency. Oracle suggested Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service™ (PBCS) which leverages the Essbase database for enhanced analytics and reporting. This product is essentially Hyperion Planning™ delivered from the Cloud. Additionally, SNB selected Key Performance Ideas as their implementation partner after seeing their recent successful implementation of PBCS with another regional bank of similar size.
The project was rolled out in 10 weeks. The PBCS system features a daily month-to-date Income Statement, as well as ending and month-to-date average balance sheets from the general ledger. The GL account and unit hierarchies (teams and branches) are provided from the bank’s master data management system, Microsoft MDS. The system generates monthly corporate, branch, and team reports without the need for Excel. All reporting formulas and calculations are centrally maintained in the Essbase database engine in PBCS. The PBCS solution will also drive the FY18 budgeting process starting in the Fall of 2017.
While SNB’s legacy planning and budgeting tool was specifically built for bank and credit union planning, it lacked the flexibility and openness of Oracle’s Cloud PBCS solution, which sits on top of Oracle’s well known Essbase database. KPI’s system architect, who specializes in Retail Bank modelling, and the SNB FP&A team together were easily able to design a solution that accommodates the planning of rate-related income and expenses, properly calculates quarter-to-date and year-to-date average balances, includes dozens of interest rate driven formulas for team and branch contribution reporting, and allows SNB to generate a bottoms-up budget from budget templates that will be distributed to the field.
A critical success factor for any new FP&A system is user adoption. The solution provider, KPI, has implemented more PBCS solutions than anyone else. They have evolved a best practices implementation process that involves heavy user involvement, hands on testing, and especially, user training. SNB understands their new system, they helped design it, and are ready to start using it right out of the gate.
System support is another key consideration. FP&A decided to administer their solution in-house, performing the more business driven tasks such as maintaining hierarchies, building reports, and tweaking formulas. SNB also chose KPI’s S.M.A.R.T. (System Maintenance And Remote Troubleshooting) team to help out with the more technical duties. The S.M.A.R.T. program helps focus the company’s employees on strategic activities beyond system administration while reducing administrative costs and providing a best practices approach to maintaining and enhancing Oracle Hyperion and PBCS planning, budgeting, and reporting applications.