Maple Street Inc https://www.maplestreetinc.com Empowering you to thrive Fri, 21 Oct 2022 18:16:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1.1 https://www.maplestreetinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/cropped-favicon-32x32.png Maple Street Inc https://www.maplestreetinc.com 32 32 Managing vendors with the Performance Addendum https://www.maplestreetinc.com/managing-vendors-with-the-performance-addendum/ Fri, 21 Oct 2022 18:16:16 +0000 https://www.maplestreetinc.com/?p=5110 For nearly two decades, Maple Street has been empowering credit unions and community banks to thrive. Our team is constantly looking for ways to solve the problems our clients face.

The key problems

Some of the key issues we’ve uncovered go hand-in-hand – Institutions not getting the performance they want, not getting the results they expect, and being stuck in a long-term contract. If you’re not happy with your vendor, you usually have to wait it out, then convert to another vendor.

However, this comes with another set of problems. If a member’s or customer’s debit card transaction is denied, who gets the blame? Not the processor. You let them down.

Maple Street has been grappling with this problem for a while, so we took the time to find out why it keeps happening. We learned there are a number of issues in the selection, buying and contracting process that contribute to the problem, but there’s one specific thing we noted with the usual way of selecting and contracting with vendors.

The traditional contract process

It starts with understanding the way we buy. The traditional process is to gauge what the need is and start shopping by talking to vendors. Then you sit through presentations and discussions, looking at the features in vendor products and listening to the benefits the vendor presents. After that, you review the technology and connectivity, then move to contracting. In other words, you buy based on the assumption that having the features in the vendor’s product will get the results you want.

What we often fail to learn is that having the features available is sometimes a long way from getting the desired results. Results require investments of time and effort.

The traditional contract is a transactional contract. The structure is “you pay x, and I’ll deliver y.” After the sale, some services are provided (often not well defined), but the vendor limits its responsibility and its service – support, such as it is. You now get to live with your choice for five years, post implementation (or, heaven forbid, longer than that).

We believe a way to change that is to select and contract with vendors differently. Maple Street uses a process called relationship contracting.

Performance Addendum – the relationship contract

The process of reviewing vendors and their products, understanding the features and benefits of their products, and understanding the technology are still important. But Maple Street adds a new dimension to how vendors are ranked and chosen by using relationship contracting. We call it the Performance Addendum.

The process involves working with you, the client, upfront to identify the specific results you want from the investment in the vendor’s product, and by specific we mean specific. For example, in a debit and credit card processing project, a specific result could be “reduction of fraud losses by 5 percent per year.”

Then we ask the vendors in the RFP, “How can you and your product help us get the specific results we desire and what will we have to do to accomplish them.” Now vendor selection isn’t just based on an assumption, but on the plan the vendor provides to get your results.

Key contracts, like data processing, digital banking and card processing, are long-term commitments, expensive, hard to change and complex. Having a vendor that is truly a partner means you have a better chance of achieving results in your ultracompetitive environment.

The Performance Addendum is added to the vendor contract to build a communication and feedback process – one that goes beyond “support” – into the vendor contract. Instead of “you pay x, I’ll give you y,” the vendor commits to a process of providing information and data about results and works with you if results are not achieved.

The data and information the vendor provides is used to create a scorecard, showing results achievement. If results are not achieved, the vendor commits to working with you (and Maple Street), to understand why they’re not being achieved and what can be done about it.

The vendor doesn’t promise to achieve the results (they won’t), but they agree to a process of evaluation, discovery, and commitment to the end goal.

The Performance Addendum and relationship contracting is the new approach Maple Street is taking to help our clients thrive. We’ve had some success with vendors agreeing to use this approach including Alkami, Lumin Digital, Q2, Co-op and PSCU. We believe the Performance Addendum can make our clients more competitive in this merger market.

Are you interested in learning more about Maple Street’s approach to relationship contracting? Give us a call at 800-513-6839 or email mssales@maplestreetinc.com to learn more.

]]>
No-stress way to upgrade your digital platforms https://www.maplestreetinc.com/no-stress-way-to-upgrade-your-digital-platforms/ Thu, 13 Oct 2022 18:25:31 +0000 https://www.maplestreetinc.com/?p=5105 Digital banking experiences are driving more consumers to big banks – Here’s how you can compete

A recent Credit Union Times article reported that, according to a new Mobiquity research study, the largest number of respondents said they preferred to conduct business with a large, national bank.

The company concluded that “younger generations’ desire for robust and convenient digital banking tools plays a large role in why credit unions trail large, national banks in the race to become the financial institution of choice for consumers.”

As a local, community-driven institution, you have thrived for years based on personal service and helping your neighbors. You’ve probably already realized that you’re not gaining millennials and Gen Z members as you once welcomed Gen X and boomers to your credit union or community bank. You probably also know you need to upgrade and add digital services if you want to successfully compete.

So, what’s stopping you? There’s a variety of reasons, but cost and time are usually at the forefront. You just don’t have the resources to select, vet and negotiate with new, high-tech vendors. For many small- and medium-size credit unions and community banks, onboarding a new digital platform can be daunting and stressful.

But Maple Street is here to help. Our professional negotiators do this all day, every day. If you’re not certain where to start, we are, and it might not be where you think. We’ll begin with planning:

  • What are your strategic goals and which vendors can meet your objectives?
  • What is your capacity for change and your appetite for change?
  • How will the new vendor work with current vendors’ products?
  • How much and what work will you have to do to get the results you want?

Then, we’ll prepare and send RFPs focused on the results you want and ask vendor candidates to explain how they can help get the results you want to narrow the field, and consulting with you every step of the way.

We start negotiation even before you choose the. While you may not know best prices and terms, we do. We make sure you have the upper hand in terms and performance, and we will save you potentially millions of dollars in pricing and hidden fees. To date, we have saved our clients more than $220 million.

And here’s something else you might not be aware of. It costs you nothing to hire Maple Street to negotiate your contract! Until we win in negotiation, you pay nothing. And, when we win, we guarantee you will save more than you spend, so it’s a win-win for both of us.

Don’t let lack of time or money hold you back. Skip the stress and reach out to Maple Street instead. Give us a call at 800-513-6839 or email mssales@maplestreetinc.com. To learn more, visit www.maplestreetinc.com/free-negotiation.

Background for this article was provided by Credit Union Times reporting on a survey about digital experiences.

]]>
Introducing Maple Street’s New Vendor Vetting Kit https://www.maplestreetinc.com/introducing-maple-streets-new-vendor-vetting-kit/ Wed, 05 Oct 2022 13:37:16 +0000 https://www.maplestreetinc.com/?p=5084 Maple Street is launching a new service for clients – New Vendor Vetting Kits. These kits make new vendor risk assessments easier, faster, more effective and consistent with FFIEC best practices.

Using the kit, you’ll be confident in knowing who you’re contracting with from a risk perspective, and will be aware of any clear red flags. This information can be taken into final contract negotiations or applied in any ongoing monitoring efforts. The New Vendor Vetting Kit includes all the information and due diligence documentation needed to tell the story of who your new vendor is and provide a simple way to share all of the evidence to management, the board, auditors and examiners.

Our New Vendor Vetting service comes in two options: a full-service version for all critical and most important vendors, and a lite version for lower risk vendors with minimal due diligence documentation available.

Benefits of New Vendor Vetting Kits

  • Know who you’re contracting with from a risk standpoint
  • Easily avoid vendors with significant red flags
  • Cover NCUA or FDIC requirements for a risk assessment for all new vendors
  • Be consistent so vetting is done objectively and comprehensively
  • Save significant time and resources
  • Manage decisions and create focal points for contract negotiation with the vendor
  • Get clarity on monitoring needs post-contracting

What’s included in the kits

Expanding on our Street Smart Vendor Review Kit tools, we added a comprehensive report from our partner Argos Risk as well as a detailed New Vendor Checklist to bring everything together.

FULL KIT INCLUDES:

  • Street Smart Vendor Review Kit
    • SOC review and summary
    • financial review
    • insurance summary
    • OFAC pull
  • Argos Risk Comprehensive Report
    • General and background information
    • Dun & Bradstreet Risk and Viability Rating
    • Argos Risk Financial Assessments
  • New Vendor Checklist
  • Inherent Risk Rank Assessment
  • Residual Risk Assessment Tool
  • Place to manage all due diligence and vetting documentation, reviews, assessment notes and action items

Cost: $450 per vendor

LITE KIT INCLUDES:

  • Argos Risk Comprehensive Report (identical to a standard kit)
  • New Vendor Checklist (abbreviated version)
  • Insurance comparison summary (identical to a standard kit)
  • OFAC pull

Cost: $250 per vendor

How to order kits

Maple Street began launching our pilot of New Vendor Vetting Kits for select clients back in May and we intend to open the service up to all clients before the end of 2022.

The New Vendor Vetting Kits will be in CADi in the Project Tracker section. The review kit pieces, new vendor checklist and comprehensive report will all be available in this section and retained here for future needs, like reporting to management, the board, auditors or examiners.

For questions on the New Vendor Vetting Kit, please reach out to vendorcompliance@maplestreetinc.com.

]]>
Merge or perish? There’s another way https://www.maplestreetinc.com/merge-or-perish-theres-another-way/ Tue, 27 Sep 2022 19:27:31 +0000 https://www.maplestreetinc.com/?p=5074 Recently, the Credit Union Times reported credit union mergers are continuing to trend upward, with 41 consolidations approved by the NCUA during 2022’s first quarter – higher than the 33 approved mergers during 2021’s first quarter. The reasons given for consolidation were expanded services to provide a better experience for members, poor financial condition and decline or loss of membership. The NCUA approved these mergers because they thought it was the best solution to a variety of problems, and the credit unions involved probably thought a merger was the only way to keep their doors open.

What if there was another way to provide new and upgraded services, improve your financial condition and, as a result, retain and attract members?  You may not be aware, but there IS another way.

Maple Street’s Vendor Advantage System® is the only complete system that addresses all parts of the vendor management process, enabling you to change your vendor management program from an expense to an expense reduction program. In fact, The Vendor Advantage System® and Maple Street professionals have saved credit unions and community banks $235 million and counting. How is that possible? It’s possible because you’re going to stop operating your vendor program like a money pit.

Here are just a few ways in which vendors are sucking the life out of your institution.

You’re paying more than fair market rates

Maple Street negotiators know the current rates for services. Our professionals know how to put the squeeze on vendors to get you the best terms at the right price. Do it yourself, and you could be leaving millions of dollars on the table.

You signed a contract in your vendor’s favor

Vendors are notorious for putting hidden fees and traps in contracts that you might never notice. For example, if your mobile banking goes down, your contract may say that you have to pay your vendor to fix the problem. Or it may say nothing about how long the vendor has to fix it. A Maple Street negotiator is an expert who will always negotiate a contract in your favor, saving you money and frustration over the life of the contract.

You hired a vendor, and now that you want to expand your services, the vendor isn’t qualified

Unfortunately, you’re stuck with the vendor for the life of the contract. But you still need to hire a qualified vendor. There’s nothing like paying twice for the same service. Maple Street experts will help you vet and hire the right vendors for current and future goals with our strategic vendor planning, which is part of the Vendor Advantage System®. SVP takes the stress and uncertainty out of vendor selection.

Your vendor is performing poorly, but you don’t know how bad things are until something goes wrong

If online services become increasingly slow, if members have to wait on hold a long time, if services go on-and-offline like a yo-yo, members will leave you and you may not know why. Only Maple Street measures and monitors vendor performance and scorecards the results to share with you and your vendor so there are no surprises. You’ll know about potential problems so you can fix them before members are fed up. And because Maple Street builds remedies for poor performance into your contract, you’ll have the upper hand in resolving the situation in your favor.

If your vendor program doesn’t recognize where waste occurs and doesn’t have the means to correct wasteful behavior, even a merger may not solve your problems. You and the institution you merge with may continue doing what you’re doing and bleed cash on a larger scale.

The Vendor Advantage System® is your best solution to find capital within your vendor program so you can expand needed member services, retain current members and attract new ones. Maple Street has helped many institutions in similar situations, and they have thanked us for changing their vendor program from a loss to a revenue generator.

We guarantee to reduce your expenses, improve vendor performance and manage risk. Before you merge, call us at 800-513-6839 or email mssales@maplestreetinc.com. Learn more at: www.maplestreetinc.com/learn.

Background for this article was provided by Credit Union Times reporting on first quarter mergers.

]]>
Maple Street becomes first vendor management company to scorecard itself to further client relationships https://www.maplestreetinc.com/maple-street-becomes-first-vendor-management-company-to-scorecard-itself-to-further-client-relationships%ef%bf%bc/ Fri, 23 Sep 2022 15:00:15 +0000 https://www.maplestreetinc.com/?p=5063 Announcing the Performance Addendum, a new kind of vendor agreement that achieves better relationships, better results

Maple Street, Inc., the leader in vendor management for credit unions and community banks, is taking client and vendor relationships to a new level with its Performance Addendum.   

Traditionally, a vendor-client contract is transactional. It’s crystal clear about what the client has to pay and when, but is opaque about what the vendor provides. Vendors often say they want to be their client’s partner, but a one-sided transactional contract isn’t a partnership and often leads to dissatisfaction with vendor performance.

After years of observing vendors’ transactional approach to contracting fail, the company has adopted a different approach: building a relationship contract with its clients. Maple Street’s Performance Addendum is an agreement that defines a working relationship to continually work together to achieve the results the client seeks. That means more service, time, and resources on Maple Street’s part, but the result will be greater client satisfaction.

“The evaluation and selection stage, before we contract, are very important,” said Mike Crofts, president. “It’s here that Maple Street confirms the specific results the client wants from its vendor management program, resulting in goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-driven (SMART goals). They form the basis of the Performance Addendum with our clients. We commit to work with the client to achieve those goals, not just sell software and reports.”

As part of its commitment to achieve clients’ goals, the company will build a scorecard to measure results and facilitate discussion and understanding. Maple Street and its clients will regularly report on and review result achievement to make sure results are achieved, in a true alliance.

Josh Layne, Maple Street vice president of vendor management and compliance commented on the new program, “This bold step will result in further client engagement and enable us to work with our clients toward better results.  Scorecarding ourselves and discussing results in an open dialogue with clients is just one example of our commitment to the success of this program.”

To learn more about Maple Street, visit www.maplestreetinc.com.

About Maple Street
Maple Street, Inc., is the industry leader in managing vendors. Maple Street’s vision for managing vendors led to the development of the Vendor Advantage System®, which provides a comprehensive vendor relationship management system for credit unions and community banks. The Vendor Advantage System® embraces all aspects of vendor relationship management. With this proven approach, Maple Street reduces vendor expenses, improves vendor performance and truly manages risk for its clients, and since 2003, Maple Street has saved clients over $230 million. For more information, call (800) 513-6839, email mssales@maplestreetinc.com or visit www.maplestreetinc.com.

]]>
Credit union margins are falling, but you can still come through for your members https://www.maplestreetinc.com/credit-union-margins-are-falling-but-you-can-still-come-through-for-your-members/ Wed, 07 Sep 2022 14:14:14 +0000 https://www.maplestreetinc.com/?p=4904 According to a recent Credit Union Times article, there were significant downward trends in the first quarter of this year due to changes in lending portfolios. These major reversals included:

  • The growth rate for loans doubled, while the growth rate for savings was half the rate of a year ago
  • Loan originations for real estate were flat, while other loans rose 11 percent
  • Net interest margins, which had been falling in 2020, were unchanged from a year ago.

If this describes your institution, you’re most likely considering not only how this effects your company, but how it will affect your members. One of the most important reasons members join a credit union, and what sets credit unions apart, is that profits made by credit unions are returned back to members in the form of reduced fees, higher savings rates and lower loan rates.

What happens when those profits are greatly reduced or disappear? It’ll be harder for you to offer members the benefits they expect at a time when they need it most… and it will be harder for you to stay afloat.

But all is not lost. You may be surprised to learn that you probably have thousands, even millions, of dollars hidden in your credit union’s operations that, if you were able to access it, could be used to offset downward trend losses. To find this cash you need to look no further than your vendor management program.

Stop running vendor management as an expense and transform it into an expense reduction program. You’ll find yourself with cash you never knew existed. That may sound easier said then done. And it would be, if you’ve never run your vendor management program any other way then you do now. That’s why we’re here to help. Maple Street has helped hundreds of credit unions save over $235 million and counting.  We’re experts in knowing how vendors can pull the wool over your eyes in ways you can’t even imagine.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Are you paying fair market rates for services? If you don’t know, we do. Maple Street experts know the current rates for services, so you don’t pay a penny more than you should.

Are you a DIY negotiator? Our professionals know how to put the squeeze on vendors to get you the best rates and terms possible. Do it yourself, and you could be leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table.

Is your vendor contract in your favor? We know where the vendor has hidden fees and traps in your contract, including rollovers with built-in increases that can drain you of cash for the life of the contract.

Is your vendor qualified for next level services? Did you consider if your vendor has the bandwidth to update or install new services? Unfortunately, you’re stuck with them for the life of the contract, but you still need to hire a qualified vendor. Nothing wastes money faster than paying twice for the same service.

How many times has your vendor’s service gone down, and how long did it take to fix the problem? For example, your contract may not define who pays to fix your mobile banking if it goes down, or how long the vendor has to fix it.

If you can’t recognize where you’re wasting money, you’re not going to be able to change course. You may be forced to increase fees, drop down savings rates and raise loan rates.

Maple Street and our Vendor Advantage System® will help you find needed cash within your vendor program. Don’t wait for things to get worse. Call 800-513-6839, email mssales@maplestreetinc.com or visit www.maplestreetinc.com/learn.

Background for this article was provided by Credit Union Times reporting on falling margins.

]]>
Top five contract terms to manage vendor risk https://www.maplestreetinc.com/top-five-contract-terms-to-manage-vendor-risk/ Mon, 29 Aug 2022 16:56:24 +0000 https://www.maplestreetinc.com/?p=4897 Our clients come to us often to vent about their vendors. They share their frustration with unkept promises, unanswered calls and unknown account managers. They express the difficulty in uncovering potential issues before they become big problems for their members/customers. They tell us about the sunk time in trying to sift and sort due diligence documents to uncover enough information to make a safe and sound risk assessment.

Vendor management is a small part of a big task. You’re expected to address risk while trying to exceed members’/customers’ expectations. You need vendors to do that. Unfortunately, most vendor management activities and strategies will only find, document, define, sift and sort vendor risks. This approach won’t do much to manage it and it probably won’t reduce it.

There’s a better way. We’ve always said if you’re not doing the vendor management activities with an eye to the contract, you’re not doing it right. Maple Street works with our clients who understand the only real-world way to reduce vendor risk – and lower fixed expenses simultaneously – is to do it through their contracts.

Your contract is already in place, is legally binding, and tells you everything you can and can’t do with your vendor. Anything not in the contract isn’t real. Your vendors’ promises are only as good as the terms in the contract that require them to keep their promises.

This is what makes your contract your most effective and important control. Maple Street has been negotiating contracts for our clients for almost 20 years and we’ve learned a lot about what should be in a good, balanced contract that will manage risk. Here are the top five contract terms that should be put into any critical vendor agreement.

1) Performance requirements

Any performance promises and requirements discussed and agreed to in the sales process need to be clearly represented in the contract. Specific performance for you from the vendor for things like reporting, training, implementation time frames, minimum volumes or other items must be defined and written into the agreement in clear, understandable terms. Service Level Agreements (SLAs), covering things like uptime and incident response time, should also be defined and easy to find and understand in the contract.

In a perfect world, failure to meet SLA metrics would include performance penalties, but that gets into some tricky territory disseminating legal language. Be aware of the phrase “commercially reasonable efforts” when it comes to SLAs and performance. All that means, legally, is the vendor will promise to try really hard.

2) Data breach and notification requirements

First, you should make sure your contract includes a duty to report breaches experienced by the vendor. We’re still shocked when contracts we negotiate come to us without this basic requirement in the 21st century. Potential breaches may be the single biggest form of risk you face when outsourcing and the minimum expectation should be your vendor tells you if they happen.

Second, you need to know the timeframe of the vendor’s duty to report a breach and be aware of what your state requires. All states have laws and requirements around when customers must be notified for breaches to non-public data. You should make certain your contract details the vendor’s breach notification timeframe and that it’s less than what your state requires.

Lastly, your contract should be clear on what assistance the vendor will directly provide you in the event of a breach. It should include things like accurate and timely information for messaging and communication to members/customers, reimbursements for letters and postage, and even discounts for any required actions to correct a breach, like card replacement, security patches or online customer assistance.

3) Due diligence documentation requirements

Critical vendors should clearly agree in their contracts to provide all available due diligence documentation to you to make an effective risk assessment every year. They should provide you a reasonably-detailed list of what’s available and a means for you to secure it. And they should do this at no cost to you. If you don’t have this in your contract now, you should plan to add it in the next renewal as an amendment.

4) Billing terms and payment recourse

Contract terms around billing and payment opens a big, broad category of potential tips and recommendations and there’s no end to how many ways a vendor can bill you for services. Instead of focusing on one type of billing and payment structure, we’ll provide three basic tips to manage risk for billing and payment structures for any vendor:

First tip, there should be no time requirement for billing error notification from you or time limits to request refunds for those errors. Errors can be found during audits over time, it can take several payment cycles or even years to determine inaccurate billing happened. It’s ironic that the errors almost always involve overbilling, meaning reimbursement would be expected. Limiting the time you have to find the error, notify the vendor and the vendor to rectify it and reimburse you, gives you all of the responsibility and the risk to manage for a vendor’s mistake.

Second tip, any penalties or fees for non-payment or late payments should be for undisputed amounts only. You shouldn’t have to pay fees for a vendor’s mistake, rush your disputes to avoid fees or be reimbursed if you win disputes of billing errors.

Last tip, price increases shouldn’t happen in the initial term of an agreement, only in a renewal term. The vendor that manages its own business well in a safe and sound manner shouldn’t be raising rates on its customers during their first term of a relationship. Price increases, renewal term or not, if listed, should be capped and any calculations clearly understood. As a point of reference, when Maple Street negotiates contracts for our clients, we try to have any price increase be capped at three percent or the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is less.

5) Initial and renewal terms – our three cardinal rules

  • Rule 1: NEVER go beyond a three-year term without getting something for it
  • Rule 2: NEVER go beyond a five-year term for anything, but especially software
  • Rule 3: NEVER go beyond a 12-month renewal term

We’ve seen institutions not following these rules encounter overpayment for service, adaptability challenges and strategy-sinking contract roll-overs. The long initial and renewal contract terms vendors push in exchange for skimpy discounts add millions to their bottom line every year. It limits your flexibility, locks you out of making changes to stay ahead of technology, and keeps you from leveraging better contract terms when needed. And it can cost you thousands, if not millions.

If you actually want to manage vendor risk and lower it, not just uncover and track it, you need to use your contract.

To date, Maple Street has saved our clients more than $235 million and our Vendor Advantage System® guarantees reduced expenses, improved vendor performance and managed risk. Our professional negotiators can get you the best terms at the right price. Call 800-513-6839, email mssales@maplestreetinc.com or visit www.maplestreetinc.com/learn to learn more.

]]>
Effective dates vs. commencement dates https://www.maplestreetinc.com/effective-dates-vs-commencement-dates/ Tue, 26 Jul 2022 15:52:36 +0000 https://www.maplestreetinc.com/?p=4858 Be in the know or it can cost you big time

So what if you mix up your terminology – aren’t “effective” and “commencement” dates on a contract pretty much the same? No, they’re not, especially if you’re using Maple Street’s CADi Contract Management Software. 

Maple Street defines the effective date as the date the contract becomes legally binding. We define the commencement date as the date the term of the contract begins (AKA the date the “clock starts ticking” on the initial contractual commitment).

Sometimes these dates coincide, but frequently, they don’t. Not knowing which is which can cost you big time if you miss the deadline for auto renewal or termination.

Here are a few more important dates and terms that effect the life of your contract:

  • Renewal/termination date – The date the initial term ends and the renewal term begins unless you terminate on that date.
  • Notice period – The specific amount of time prior to the renewal/termination date that you must give notice regarding your renewal intentions (i.e., 30 days, three months)
  • Notice of intent date (NOI date) – The deadline to give your vendor notification that you want to AVOID auto-renewal or auto-termination. Without this notice you have no control over what happens to your contract.

It’s so important to correctly identify the commencement of a contract so you can determine when the current term will end, give notice of intent on time and get the results you want, either renewal or termination.

Here are some questions our clients ask about effective and commencement dates. You may be wondering the same things.

Isn’t the commencement date in the contract?

Oftentimes, a contract will provide a DEFINITION of when the clock starts on the initial term, but Maple Street doesn’t have enough information to use that definition accurately to calculate the month, day and year this event occurs. These exact dates can only be made available to Maple Street by asking the vendor and client when these events occurred.

If Maple Street has the effective date, why do you need the commencement date?

If a contract is flagged in CADi as incomplete due to a missing commencement date, it’s because the effective date and commencement date are different, and we don’t have when the clock starts on the initial term.

When the commencement date is missing, what date is Maple Street using to trigger alerts?

If the commencement date is missing, we use conservative substitution dates in CADi. We feel that it’s better to send CADi alert emails and give vendors notice too EARLY than too LATE.

Why do we need the commencement date if we’re not leaving the vendor?

What if you decide you want to terminate the contract in the future and we don’t have the correct dates in CADi? Always put yourself in a position to have the upper hand.  You don’t want things to go sour with a vendor before you have another plan in place.

Do all contracts have commencement dates?

You might see in the commencement date section in CADi, it shows an “N/A” rather than a date because the contract is one where the legally-binding event and the clock starting on the initial term event are the same date.

How much do dates matter?

If alert dates are missing or incorrect, then contracts can roll over and you can get stuck in another term. When planning for vendor transition, having the correct date helps you to coordinate the start date with a new vendor and an end date with the old vendor. It helps you avoid lapse in coverage or double coverage.

Do dates impact negotiation?

For the negotiation process, knowing the correct dates impacts a realistic timeline to implement changes, including the time needed to replace a vendor (since it could be a much longer timeframe to replace a vendor than the amount of time you’re required to give notice to end the contract).

The easiest way to keep track of your contract dates is through Maple Street’s Vendor Advantage System®, which includes our proprietary CADi software. This system’s strategic plan alignment and vendor planning helps you choose the right vendor, contract well and measure and monitor your vendor services, while making short work of due diligence, including contract management and those critical dates.

With the Vendor Advantage System®, you’ll reduce expenses, improve vendor performance and manage risk, guaranteed. Call 800-513-6839 or email mssales@maplestreetinc.com to get started. To learn more, visit www.maplestreetinc.com/learn.

]]>
Make short work of due diligence and pass your exam with Maple Street’s checklist for success https://www.maplestreetinc.com/due-diligence-checklist/ https://www.maplestreetinc.com/due-diligence-checklist/#respond Mon, 27 Jun 2022 15:36:28 +0000 https://www.maplestreetinc.com/?p=3155 Maple Street’s got your back, especially when it comes to due diligence and passing your exam. We know that no one likes the grunt work and seemingly endless drudgery associated with compliance. So, we’ve done something about it.

Here is Maple Street’s checklist of items that will help you make short work of due diligence and pass your exam without breaking a sweat.

_____ Review vendor contracts to mitigate risk.

What’s written in your contract states exactly what your vendor will and won’t do, which, in turn, will tell you how much exposure to risk you have with that vendor.

_____ Breach and interruption of service

Reviewing the following three sections of the SSAE-18 SOC reports will give you the best understanding of how your vendor will protect you from breach and interruptions to service. Look at sections I, II and IV to breeze through this portion of due diligence.

_____ Section I – Independent service auditor’s report (opinion)

Scan the auditor’s opinion. Were any negatives uncovered? Do they matter? Most vendors will prefer to send in a GAP letter while they correct the issues rather than take a negative.  

_____ Section III – Complementary user entity control considerations (CUECs fka UCCs)

CUECs/UCCs are the controls the vendor expects YOU to have in place for the vendor’s controls to work. Any listed UCC you’re unsure of, whether or not it’s in place, should be communicated internally to verify with the right team. Note and escalate any control consideration you confirm isn’t in place.

_____ Section III – Subservicers/4th party vendors

Review the subservicers, also known as fourth-party vendors, and note the controls your direct vendors are using to manage and monitor the vendor’s vendors. You should note any that seem insufficient or any subservicers that you perceive will open you up to unacceptable risk.

_____ Section IV – Control objectives/related controls and testing

Focus on the response, not the test. Is it vague or unclear if or when it will be resolved? You may need to work directly with the vendor to get assurance it’ll be corrected.

_____ Red flags in financial reviews

While any one of the items below is a potential red flag, risk becomes unacceptable if you see a combination of these issues:

  • Are the net income and net profit margin trending down? A down year is expected, continued downward trending is a major concern.
  • Are liabilities consistently higher than assets? More liability without relative increases in assets is a big sign of overleveraging.
  • Is the current ratio < 1? A current ratio below one suggests a company cannot pay off obligations due at that point.
  • Is the debt equity over 100 percent consistently?  A continued high ratio means a vendor has difficulty generating enough cash to cover its debt obligations.
  • Is the ROA under three percent consistently? A low ROA suggests poor management of assets, especially if this is trending downward consistently.
  • Are outstanding shares rising year over year? This is only for public companies. If share count is rising every year, the company is typically selling more shares and diluting the company’s value.

_____ Does the vendor have the right mix of insurance coverage?

Make sure the vendor’s policy coverage is a good mix and reflects the areas you need the vendor to protect itself from, as it relates directly to what it’s doing for your institution.

We hope this checklist helps relieve you of some of the burden of due diligence. But we can do more.

Maple Street experts can lift the weight of due diligence off your shoulders and do almost all the work.

Ask about our Vendor Advantage System®, a proven system that changes vendor management from an expense into an expense reduction program. You’ll save more than you spend and pass your exam, guaranteed.

Call 800-513-6839 or email mssales@maplestreetinc.com to get started. To learn more, visit www.maplestreetinc.com/learn.

]]>
https://www.maplestreetinc.com/due-diligence-checklist/feed/ 0
UFirst Credit Union: How Maple Street helped a growing credit union thrive https://www.maplestreetinc.com/ufirst-success-story/ https://www.maplestreetinc.com/ufirst-success-story/#respond Wed, 08 Jun 2022 16:50:35 +0000 https://www.maplestreetinc.com/?p=3137 In July 1956, UFirst Credit Union was founded by a small group of professors at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Although the credit union was originally established to serve employees of the university, its presence in the community quickly grew beyond the boundaries of the campus. Soon after founding, membership expanded to include alumni as well as students.

Since then, UFirst Credit Union has steadily expanded to serve even more of the Utah community. Today, the credit union has more than 100,000 members.

It was during the expansion of 2020 that Mark Wilkins joined UFirst.  Having been a CIO and NCUA examiner, as well as being CPA, Mark was an ideal choice for CFO when the previous CFO retired. As the new CFO, Mark saw opportunities for further growth involving new branches, systems and products. One of those opportunities was an immediate need to streamline the vendor management compliance system.

Mark shared the previous system was very time consuming, with employees having to manually upload and review everything. After a thorough search, Mark chose Maple Street to handle VM compliance. The results were eye opening.

“Our former system was so tedious and manual, we didn’t have time to focus on other important tasks,” Mark said. “Maple Street did all of the grunt work. It tracked things better, including risk, risk ranking, and vendors. Maple Street took work away from the staff so we could engage more with our members. And, we passed our exam.”

But Mark didn’t stop there. UFirst had a digital banking platform with a provider that didn’t scale well. The credit union wanted to replace the vendor with one that had broader bandwidth, including wires, treasury management and other business services to keep pace with the credit union’s growth. At first Mark looked at other companies, but after reviewing its abilities, he knew he had the right company partnering with him all along and chose Maple Street to help UFirst select the new provider.

“By engaging Maple Street, we could take advantage of their expertise. We could’ve missed requirements if we didn’t go this route.”

Mark was amazed by the amount of work Maple Street took on during the selection process. The company helped UFirst emphasize and prioritize vendors, build an RFP, evaluate the answers, then helped with demos to narrow the search to three, then two vendors, and leveraged them against each other to negotiate the best prices and services.

“The selection process was a lot more complicated than I thought it would be,” Mark revealed. “I thought we’d have to do most of it ourselves, but Maple Street was there from the beginning of the vendor selection process and helped every step of the way.”

When asked his opinion of Maple Street’s overall value to UFirst, Mark replied, “We couldn’t be happier. We’re pleased with the new vendor we’re onboarding. Plus, when examiners come in and they know we have Maple Street, they don’t do a deep dive because they know that we’re good.”

As to cost, Mark shared, “Maple Street saved us so much money, our CEO thought it was completely worth it.”

When it comes to service, Mark had a list of how he feels Maple Street excels:

  • The company is on top of things – you can email Maple Street and get very quick responses with good help
  • It’ll help you prepare for and pass the exam
  • If you have a problem, Maple Street will be right there to help solve it
  • The company provides training with no additional costs

In closing, Mark commented on his relationship with Maple Street. “Our relationship is great, and I expect it will continue for years to come. Maple Street has saved us $7,677,190 and counting.”

To view or share the UFirst Credit Union success story, click here.

]]>
https://www.maplestreetinc.com/ufirst-success-story/feed/ 0