To gain more robust insight into its revenues and costs, First Bank Texas decided to develop a more formal financial planning and analytics process.
First Bank Texas worked with Cresco International to implement IBM Planning Analytics, building comprehensive tools for budgeting, cash flow reporting and trend analysis within just a few months.
Streamlinesand accelerates planning processes for the bank’s finance team
Enhancesinsight for branch managers by analyzing expenses for each location
Increasesthe transparency of financial analytics, helping to satisfy regulators
Business challenge story
Formalizing financial analytics
First Bank Texas prides itself on bringing a personal approach to banking in the Big Country area. Employees are committed to supporting the community in which they live and work, and strive to know all their customers by name, not just by account number.
While personal service and individual responsibility are the central pillars of the bank’s working culture, there are also aspects of its business that need to be governed by well-designed processes and supported by robust technology. The bank has been growing steadily since the 1990s, opening new offices and facilities, and merging with four sister banks in 2012. As the business has expanded, the need to standardize certain processes, such as financial planning and analysis, has become more apparent.
Vickie Briggs, Chief Financial Officer at First Bank Texas, explains: “Until recently, most of our planning was based on the knowledge and experience of a small number of key individuals within the bank. While the budgets and forecasts we produced were very accurate, we wanted to create a more formal process that would be more transparent for the rest of the business, and for our regulators.
“Our aim was to find a technology platform that would simplify our financial analytics processes, deliver useful insight, and be flexible enough to evolve with our business as it grows.”
Rapid transition to a more robust process
First Bank Texas began looking for a solution that would integrate well with its existing systems.
“Our core banking platform was largely developed in-house, so we couldn’t just plug in one of the standard industry solutions for banking analytics,” explains Vickie Briggs. “We needed a solution that would be flexible enough to work with our existing systems. IBM Planning Analytics gave us that flexibility at a very reasonable price-point.”
Working with Cresco International, an IBM Business Partner specializing in analytics and financial performance management projects, the First Bank Texas team was able to implement IBM Planning Analytics in just a few months—enabling it to begin its annual budgeting process on schedule.
Sanjeev Datta, Practice Director at Cresco, comments: "Some organizations shy away from adopting analytics because they assume an enterprise-class platform would be unaffordable. Team Cresco provided First Bank Texas with an effective solution that delivered results quickly without breaking the bank. At Cresco, we focus on finding solutions that are the right fit for each client, and it’s very pleasing to see how quickly First Bank Texas has realized business value from Planning Analytics.”
Vickie Briggs adds: “During the project, we were impressed with Cresco’s expertise—when they walked us through the system they designed for us, we only needed to make a few minor tweaks before putting it into production. They were always available whenever we had questions, which was especially helpful when I was setting up some of the financial reporting capabilities. Overall, Cresco helped us make a remarkably fast and smooth transition to the new solution.”
As part of the implementation, the bank imported three years of historical actuals data, enabling month-to-month comparisons for trend analysis. This makes it easier for the budgeting team to understand how different areas of the business are performing, and whether any variations are simply due to seasonal patterns, or indicate a change in trajectory.
Vickie Briggs comments: “Seasonality analysis also helps when we’re adjusting our assumptions during the budgeting process. For instance, if we forecast annual growth at three percent, it will spread the additional revenue across all the months of the year proportionately, based on typical seasonal patterns.”
In addition to budgeting, the new system also provides liquidity analysis for asset management, and helps generate comparative financial statements that are presented to the board each month. It also provides more detailed analysis at the branch level, by adding budgeting data to branch-level financial reports.
Empowering the finance team
Reflecting on the benefits of the move to IBM Planning Analytics, Vickie Briggs comments: “For a finance person, the number one factor that I would recommend about Planning Analytics is the ease of integration with Excel. In the past, I have worked for companies whose budgeting processes were based on large linked Excel spreadsheets, and that’s what I was used to. Planning Analytics gives me a familiar Excel interface, but with a powerful database underneath that makes it much faster and safer to work with complex financial data.”
She adds: “It’s hard to put a number on it, but we have definitely seen time-savings and a reduction in workload since we started using IBM Planning Analytics. By eliminating some of the number-crunching and speeding up each iteration of the budgeting process, it gives us more time to focus on more valuable work.”
For the wider business, the solution provides insight that helps support smarter decision making.
“The trending analysis definitely helps us understand the direction our business is going, and whether there’s anything about our operations that we need to tweak,” says Vickie Briggs. “For example, it’s enlightening for our branch managers to be able to see where their expenses are coming from on a monthly basis—that’s a new set of information that we couldn’t give them before.”
Finally, the solution helps put First Bank Texas in a stronger position regarding regulatory reviews and compliance. By reducing the bank’s reliance on experienced individuals, and introducing a more robust, objective and process-driven approach to financial performance management, IBM Planning Analytics has helped to increase transparency, accountability and auditability.
Vickie Briggs concludes: “It’s not quite a push-button process yet, but Planning Analytics gives us an objective, well-structured way of producing reports and budgets that are driven by data instead of individual expertise. Moreover, it’s a platform that we can extend and expand as our needs evolve in the future.”
First Bank Texas
Originally founded in 1885, First Bank Texas is a home-town bank with directors, officers and employees who are committed to serving the community in which they work and live, and providing a superior service based on quality relationships with their customers. The bank has 10 locations in the Big Country area of Texas, including branches in Abilene, Baird, Clyde, Munday, Stamford, Haskell, Bedford and Grapevine.
Take the next step
Cresco International is an analytics and data science-focused firm that helps clients around the world achieve business transformations with technology. As an award-winning IBM Business Partner, Cresco continues to solve complex business challenges with technical expertise and business acumen. The company is headquartered in Dallas, TX, and provides strategic, technical, training and functional consulting services. To find out more about products and services from Cresco International, visit: crescointl.com
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