Webster Bank Saves Time and Improves Visibility in SOX Program
- The Webster Bank team juggled narratives and spreadsheets in Microsoft Office and and flowcharts in Visio
- 350 controls and 83 business process owners made this process too complex
- Process owners were "extremely receptive" to the Workiva platform's easy-to-use SOX certification capabilities
- Less time spent copying and pasting
- More time for meeting the needs of executive management and the audit committee.
Why They Chose Workiva
- SEC Reporting
- SOX Compliance
Every opportunity for growth and every surmounted challenge starts with an idea.
For Webster Bank, that idea was simple—there has to be something more efficient than Microsoft Office for managing your SOX program.
As a growing commercial and community bank with locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York, Webster Bank was eager to shift from the labor-intensive compliance process it had previously used. And, as Katherine Lane, SVP and Sr. SOX Manager at Webster Bank said, "Workiva had just the right mix of capabilities to get them to their goals."
Before Workiva: Disconnected tools, manual effort
Simply put, the tools that Katherine and her team used at Webster Bank did not position them to improve and enhance the program—they could just stay afloat.
“Prior to Workiva, our process was very manual,” said Katherine. “We had narratives that were documented in Microsoft Word and flowcharts that were documented in Visio. Separately, we maintained our risk control matrices in Excel and then consolidated the individual matrices into a master control listing for our quarterly certification process.”
It's not uncommon for banks to have many controls, and Webster Bank has over 350 key controls, according to Katherine.
“As you can imagine, the program was extremely manual with hundreds of testing spreadsheets, which were then manually summarized for reporting of results,” she said. Every quarter, 83 business process owners and executives submit a certification to attest to the accuracy and operating effectiveness of their key controls. Like other facets of the SOX program at Webster Bank, these certifications were sent out and tracked, and results were aggregated manually by Katherine’s team.
As the bank grew, so did the disconnect between its array of systems and the various stakeholders involved in the process, compounded by issues from copying and pasting critical data across documents and spreadsheets.
“We definitely experienced some version control issues because of the manual nature of our process,” said Katherine.
“A huge time-saver for us”
Between dousing version control fires, manually consolidating work across platforms—and juggling the day job of providing tangible insight into risk for the company—Katherine and her SOX team had their hands full.
What ultimately led Webster Bank toward Workiva was having a central platform for all SOX and internal controls work. When all critical information lives in the same spot, there’s no need to email spreadsheets or juggle data between tools.
“We've experienced a lot of efficiency by having all of our data within one central repository that we can then use for reporting and certification purposes and to achieve seamless continuity in our testing,” said Katherine. “It really eliminates that opportunity for version control issues.”
With 83 individuals signing off on SOX controls and 148 control owners across the organization, Workiva tremendously streamlined the certification process for Webster Bank, said Katherine. She noted that control owners are “extremely receptive” to the platform.
“They just log into the Workiva platform, complete their certification, and then see if there's anything outstanding on any of their responses,” she said. “It eliminates the opportunity for something to get lost in an email—that's been a huge time-saver for us. Overall, we were able to reduce the time that we spent facilitating the quarterly certification process from almost two weeks to just a few days.”
Collaboration with external audit and the business
With less data to transfer from location to location and fewer certification follow-ups to track down, Katherine and team carved out more time for detailed walkthroughs with control owners along with reporting to executive management and the audit committee—which the Workiva platform also helped streamline.
“We've done a lot to automate our reporting to the executive management team, to the audit committee, and to our external auditor,” said Katherine.
Additionally, Workiva enabled Webster Bank to realize greater efficiency in their external auditor reliance approach.
“Previously we had to use file share tools to get our work papers to our external auditor. We've actually been able to grant our external auditor access to the Workiva platform, so they can review our testing progress through reports. Once the work papers are marked as fully reviewed and in the completed phase, it's automatically available to them for review.”
Growing across teams with Workiva
When it comes to the benefits of using the Workiva platform, Katherine thinks beyond her immediate team. The bank’s SEC reporting team also uses the Workiva platform for their filing process, which means Katherine could borrow critical information from their reports to improve her team’s compliance work.
“We're looking into linking the data that the SEC team uses for preparation of the 10-Q and the 10-K into our risk assessment template to create a more automated quarterly risk assessment review,” she said.
Those in the banking industry know full well the importance of investing now to reap dividends tomorrow. That’s exactly what the team at Webster Bank is pursuing with Workiva.
“The more you put into Workiva, the more you get out,” said Katherine. “Spend the time to really make the platform your own, and the time and financial savings you reap just grow exponentially.”
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