Plansmith Blog

How to excel without Excel

Posted by Brett Hendricks on 7/17/19 9:02 AM

One of the most common calls we take at Plansmith is from a bank or credit union looking to improve their entire budgeting, forecasting, and board reporting process. While the organizations vary greatly in size, and the person calling is sometimes the president and other times a financial analyst – most often they all have one thing in common: “I’m currently using Excel.”

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5 Ways Plansmith Simplifies Your Budgeting Process

Posted by Brett Hendricks on 7/8/19 9:35 AM

For most banks and credit unions the annual budgeting process is just that, a “process” that is far from looked forward to.

The CFO gathers data and input from market managers and department heads. The President and CEO then hand down more information as well as targets and objectives that rarely align with the other information. It's then the CFO's and finance team's job to cobble it all together, make it balance, and deliver results to the Board for approval.

As anyone who has been through it knows, the process itself is not cut and dry. To be honest, it can be downright exhausting.

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My Community Bank's Budget Is Done, Now What?

Posted by Bill Smith on 10/3/17 4:30 PM
Thankfully, my community bank's budget is done – now what? Continue planning, that’s what.

Most of us hate planning, so why would I want to start now, when I could wait until the usual time next year?

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Community Bankers: Basel III, Confucius and Tom Hanks

Posted by Shawna Brauer on 5/11/15 12:00 PM
Much like you, over the last couple of years I have spent a lot of time trying to get a handle on the impact of Basel III. I have spent countless hours attending webinars, reviewing Basel III drafts, running numbers, and figuring out how we should accommodate those changing needs within our software. During this process, I’ve found myself continually thinking about the following quote:

"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated." - Confucius

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Do You Balance Your Community Bank's Checkbook?

Posted by Shawna Brauer on 9/22/14 4:30 PM
It is always interesting to me to hear different people’s views of cash flow – from a personal perspective as well as a business perspective. I regularly ask people if they balance their personal checkbooks. Shockingly - to me, at least – I almost always hear "no". Most people feel comfortable checking an app or logging in online to view their balance periodically, scanning transactions for reasonableness rather than logging debits and credits in an old-fashioned check register. (Full disclosure time…I still use a check register for my personal accounts, so I’m biased here. I find it strangely comforting.) But most consumers feel they have a good handle on their cash flow without writing out the details. If they’re running short on cash they have back-up plans in mind - they can transfer money from another account, cut spending in the short term, ask relatives for a loan or cross their fingers, hold their breath and wait it out.

Interestingly, the response I usually hear from small businesses (outside of the banking industry) is that they do have a strong, more formal handle on their day to day cash needs. They keep a check register (albeit mostly electronically, for example in QuickBooks). They know how much cash they need to fund their regular business needs and they monitor their cash flow in detail. They know which customers they need to collect from up-front, and which ones are slow to pay. They have concrete back-up plans if cash runs tight – savings, lines of credit, which bills they can delay paying versus which payments are critical to be paid on time. They know where they’ve been and where they’re trending - positive cash flow is critical to staying in business, so cash flow is always top of mind. Otherwise they’re out of business (and hence not part of my survey.)

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Two Tickets to Washington D.C.

Posted by David Schwieder on 3/17/14 9:30 AM
Tom Parsons and I had the pleasure of attending the CUNA Government Affairs Conference in our nation’s capital. It was a great opportunity show support for our many credit union clients as well as learning more about the many challenges they face.

Opening night featured a performance by singer Eddie Money, which literally had the Washington Convention Center "shaking to the beat of the night". Day two presented a strong stream of visitors to the many exhibitor booths spread out around the convention center floor. It was great to finally put a few client faces to the many voices that we speak to regularly. We met a number of new credit unions that were interested in our solutions for managing risk and active planning. It was fun being able to run our Financial Compass model for these individuals, right there on the convention floor. Some really seemed impressed by our ability to quickly provide a two and three year rolling forecast for their organization. Impressive perhaps, but after all, "the future is ours to see".

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Of Bulls and Bears (and I’m not talking Chicago sports here)

Posted by Tom Parsons on 2/24/14 9:00 AM

A new request list and questionnaire from the OCC is making its way around the banking community and the NCUA has issued one of its own. Regardless of who you answer to, expect more scrutiny on your asset liability management (ALM) model. For some of you this might be "old hat", but we’ve fielded calls by clients asking for interpretation of the IRR Data Collection. So, Plansmitties, and even non-Smitties, take note: there is a letter with your name on it and we’re here to help.

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