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As costs continue to rise for addressing increased regulatory expectations, upgrading technology, and maintaining convenient locations and a skilled work force, how can community banks and credit unions reign in expenses while continuing to maintain a competitive operation?

When you stop and think about it, reducing expenses continues to be a constant concern for most financial institutions. For many the obvious extras and non-essentials were discontinued long ago. Now, the concern for many is how to further reduce expenditures without sacrificing the quality of member services or missing out on new technologies and strategies that may be just over the horizon.

If your bank or credit union is looking for additional ways to reduce expenses – without jeopardizing your service quality – following are three areas where an unbiased operational review can discover potential savings, improved service and the opportunity for increased revenue that can provide a significant performance boost – both immediate and for the long-term.

1. Uncover your untapped potential
process improvement study – conducted by an expert in business process re engineering – will identify changes that, once implemented, can result in maximum productivity and business efficiency. An assessment includes a thorough review of your business structure, workflow, personnel, plus income and expenditures.

Once areas for improvement have been identified, study results will provide recommended next steps – based on your unique situation – along with a road map that outlines the most effective ways to re-analyze your processes. You’ll no doubt see immediate improvements but also gain the ability to maintain long-term initiatives to exceed goals.

2. Shore up your staffing model 
As technology plays a larger role in how consumers access financial services, maintaining a right-sized staffing model can be challenging. Indeed, your account holders may be spending more time conducting their financial business on their computer or mobile phone. But when they have a question or need a service that requires human interaction, they expect and deserve the highest level of service.

staffing study can help to facilitate appropriate staffing levels and scheduling – both now and as your personnel needs fluctuate in the future. Findings can help you reduce overtime and redistribute human resources during peak and non-peak business hours. In some cases, when it leads to greater efficiency’s’, this might include replacing full-time staff with part-time resources – which can result in substantial cost savings. The money you save can fund new services, upgrade benefits or add personnel to an under-staffed department. Or, expense reductions can be returned straight to the bottom line.

3. Take your service contracts off autopilot
When was the last time you reviewed your service contracts? I know this can be an overwhelming task – especially if no one on staff is knowledgeable about contract terms and cost structures. But allowing a legacy contract to renew without reviewing the costs and terms associated with the agreement is a sure way – in many, many cases – of letting potential savings, signing bonuses and improved service slip away.

An analysis of all your vendor contracts can likely uncover better savings and terms – well beyond what a vendor might have described to your institution as it’s “best and final” offer – on services you use every day, such as your debit card and credit card processing, card brand agreements with Visa, MasterCard and Discover, core data processing, internet banking and more.

Then, you can decide which opportunities to pursue with a full-on contract negotiation. In the end, you have nothing to lose and potentially a great deal to gain in regards to better service and reduced expenses.

In today’s highly competitive environment, just think about the great things you can do in your community with a fine-tuned organization and additional resources.


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