Branch Managers Are Happier With Better Reporting Tools

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BLOG VIEW: Nothing cripples a financial institution’s profitability like a dissatisfied branch manager.

Branch managers are ultimately the source of market share, both in terms of the loan officers they recruit and the loan production they receive in that area.

When a manager has issues with his or her reporting tools (a common source of complaints) it’s only a matter of time before they – and their key LOs – move on to greener pastures.  

When mortgage lenders ignore the reporting tools they provide to branch managers, it can cost them serious money.

Branch managers who have moved to a new position at a new bank or credit union often complain that their new firm isn’t using the best available, industry standard reporting technology.

It’s not just about the numbers; it’s about the manager’s ability to retrieve and use information when they need it and how they want it.

For example, many financial institutions email branch manager reports, or similarly put the reports on a SharePoint. This is “one-size-fits-all” branch reporting. The branch manager is limited to the static reports presented, in the way that the data has been totaled.

Since different branch managers have different strengths – and different marketing plans – in their local markets, “one-size-fits-all” reporting doesn’t make sense, because it is too limited.  

A branch manager in a new area may be seeking market share, whereas a manager in an established, competitive market may be focused on loan level profit margin.

Usually, it’s a little of both. Those managers who actively look at reporting are immediately interested in more flexibility at their fingertips, not just a single report on SharePoint.  

Depending on the report and the size of the organization, preparing SharePoint or emailed reports requires significant FTE hours in a mortgage lender’s accounting department. It means doing menial and repetitive reporting tasks.

Modern reporting tools, however, enable branch managers to securely connect, in real time, to a live reporting system. Branch data should be controlled by the system, so that the branch manager only sees data designated for his or her branch.

Within those parameters, branch managers should be able to see P&L data about their branch, BPS and trends with their loans, as well as LO effectiveness data.

The manager should be able to sort and total the data in various ways. Branch managers who regularly use this type of technology may feel as though they took a few steps backward, if forced to use fixed reporting.

Today’s systems offer the ability to drill down through the reports to the loan level detail, eliminating the need to go back and forth between different reports. Managers can drill down from a P&L all the way to the loans that make it up, or the invoices for which they were charged.

Easy to use and intuitive drill downs improve the branch manager’s efficiency and absorption of the data.

One of the benefits of modern technology is that reporting tools can display information any way users want.

On the other hand, static reports, which are a snapshot in time, cause managers to call the accounting department with questions about the details. Such calls take up valuable FTE time for something that technology can do automatically.

Experienced branch managers are aware of their technology options when it comes to reporting tools and capabilities. When they are forced to use reporting tools that are inflexible or rely on static reports, they see this as their employer’s choice rather than an unavoidable hardship that must be accepted.

Understanding the branch managers’ expectations regarding reporting technology and processes, and then doing everything possible and reasonable to meet them, is one way to ensure branch managers are happy.

Joe Ludlow is vice president for Irvine, Calif-based Advantage Systems, a provider of accounting and financial management tools for the mortgage industry.

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