5 Must-Do’s to Maximize Shared Services

5 Must-Do’s to Maximize Shared Services

Across the country, local public entities find themselves in the same predicament: trying to do more with fewer resources, smaller staffs, and greater demands.

In today’s environment, these issues are virtually universal, in cities, towns, villages, and school districts within a given county—and adjacent counties.

On top of these constraints is a steady stream of unfunded federal and state mandates that public entities must implement, with ever fewer dollars to cover day-to-day overhead expenses.

It should come as no surprise that more and more entities are looking to work together to eliminate duplication of services and reduce unnecessary overhead. As a result, shared-services initiatives are gaining popularity, ranging from public works, public safety, self-insured healthcare plans, and cooperative purchasing programs.

The ability to join forces can have an immediate and beneficial financial impact. The one impediment is jurisdiction of control. Entities involved in sharing services should have a long-term perspective of outcome and address this clearly upfront—and in writing.

The need to consider or expand shared services may not be desirable, but rather an absolute necessity to survive. This is especially true for smaller entities within larger jurisdictions. In the minds of taxpayers, a proper business attitude is to be applied, rather than an emotional wrestling match over control.

Under a shared-services agreement, the concern of lost identity should not be raised; the initiative is a joint effort in providing/receiving services for the participants’ mutual benefit. In general, the initiatives should focus on saving money and/or generating revenue.

Here are 5 financial shared-service initiatives to consider: 

1. Conducting a universal banking services Request for Proposal. A banking RFP would create a large volume of buying power to use in negotiating competitive pricing on bank fees and deposit rates. A collaboration like this could include villages, towns, cities, school districts, and the county government, all at once. The end result could lead to hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of dollars in savings and or additional interest income. rfpPrep® by three+one® is the first-ever electronic banking RFP (Request for Proposal) service, entirely online and specifically designed to facilitate the bidding of banking services. Visit our rfpPrep site for more resources. 

2. County governments can be a source of purchasing the short-term paper of related entities as they come to market. As local villages, towns, and school districts issue Bond Anticipation Notes (BAN) or Tax Anticipations Notes (TAN), a county could be a bidder of such notes, as allowed by legal statutes, for investment purposes. As such, the county can be an additional bidder, helping to lead to lower rates and greater competitive pricing on cash for investment. 

3. Counties can provide additional resources and expertise through their finance offices in helping smaller local entities identify and manage their cash. It would still be expected that associated entities would control their cash, but alleviate the stress associated in identifying and investing cash. 

4. Combining technology efforts can be effective and beneficial both in financial and banking transactions, especially in the flow and protection of collections and payments. 

5. Finally, consider consolidating tax collection. In the future, all tax collections will be automated. The need to have a counter or have the control of check collection will become obsolete. Having one point of contact for tax payment and options payment can lead to major personnel and banking cost savings. 

Sharing services can be pathway to strengthening the financial well-being of all those involved. Let three+one help you in setting up and managing your shared-services initiatives.  What may seem as a major undertaking can be simplified with through our proprietary liquidity analysis and modeling capabilities.

As always, our mission is to help public entities to do more in serving their communities.

 

Introducing rfpPrep®

Introducing rfpPrep®

Over the last four years, we have encouraged public entities and higher Ed institutions to hold off on a banking services Request for Proposal (RFP) due to the low-interest-rate environment and the burdensome process in conducting a RFP. The value was not there, given the time required to conduct a banking RFP.
Well, that is now changing. With higher short-term-interest rates, new technology, and more banks pursuing public and higher Ed clients, the time has come to start taking advantage of the marketplace.

 

 

 

Over the last month, we have seen bank Earning Credit Rates (ECR) jump to as high as 1.90% in a competitive setting, with savings rates on cash balances north of 2.00%. All of this follows a trend that we see continuing in 2019.

In considering a bank RFP, it is essential that you have a forward-thinking document that reaches the greatest number of the banks in your marketplace. The idea of pulling one out of a drawer from a few years back, or from a neighboring entity, will not serve you well. An RFP needs to reflect your own banking needs, now and in the future. With technology changing so quickly, the ability to conduct a banking RFP is now at your fingertips.

The process to conduct a banking RFP no longer needs to be a burdensome paper-intensive process. With threeplusone’s new rfpPrep®—an online RFP process (at www.bankingrfp.com)that includes a custom-tailored threeplusone liquidity analysis—you’ll no longer have to read thousands of pages of responses. In fact, comparing banking services and pricing becomes an easy “apples to apples” exercise.

Just imagine being able to know which banks have the best services and pricing within minutes from a final bid deadline; what used to take months to perform now can take a couple of weeks.

Under this approach, your time in conducting an RFP can be cut down by 75%, while focusing on the relationship rather than figuring out comparative pricing and confusing disclaimers through reams of paper.

The time has come to determine if a banking RFP is a priority for 2019. If so, threeplusone can demonstrate the power of rfpPrep and the ease of conducting a bank RFP right at your desk.

Your time is valuable and so are your banking relationships. If it has been over five years since your last bank RFP, now might be time to consider a new one.

The results may surprise you, both in ease and in value.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

You’ve heard the expression “one size” fits all. That may work in some areas but it definitely does not apply when you’re talking about a banking Request for Proposal (RFP). Your entity is unique and you deserve a banking RFP that reflects that uniqueness. “Cookie-cutter” RFPs that come from a template will lack any true color or substance, won’t reflect the individual character of your entity, —and will not likely produce the results you’re after.

One Size Doesn't Fit All

Here are four tips that can help you achieve a successful banking RFP:

1.) Ensure your next banking RFP is data rich, forward thinking, and intertwined with your institution’s ability to have the latitude it needs to be creative, with innovative technology and services enabling new levels of efficiency and cost savings.

2.} Insist that all written responses are limited to 25 pages. Who has the time to read several hundred pages of needless filler? Have your responders describe why they should continue to serve as your banking institution—or how they differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Or both.

3.) Have in-person interviews with the three leading candidates. Such conversations are much more powerful and revealing than words on paper. Go with your personal instinct on the chemistry of the team that will best serve you and your entity’s needs—especially regarding response time to your emails and/or phone calls.

4.) Have one sheet that outlines a clear-cut listing of all bank fees, including the Earning Credit Rate (ECR) and recoupment fees on all deposits. Such a listing will enable you to properly compare apples to apples.

If you feel that you don’t have the time or staff to review all banking services or perform a banking RFP, call three+one. We can provide an in-depth analysis to identify your entity’s specific banking needs, requirements, and specific data that will lead to better RFP responses and necessary pricing information.

We all have unique ways in viewing banking RFPs. Let’s make sure it fits your entity’s size and needs.

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See Us At These Upcoming Events and Conferences:
Ohio GFOA – September
GFOA SC – October
PA GFOA – October

Expensive Pieces of Paper

Did you know the average cost of issuing and awarding a Request for Proposal (RFP) for banking services, using internal resources, is… $45,000?

At that cost, the RFP better be worth it!

Expensive Pieces of Paper

In many instances, that’s not the case. What we tend to find are 2016 banking-services RFPs are often trapped in a 1990s template.

Recently, I reviewed a large national banking RFP that had the same wording of ones I’d seen many years ago. In fact, it was a replica of another such organization’s RFP that had been issued several years before. It lacked color, specifics, and data and was serving as a set up for a price war between banks. The real problem is that very few banks will respond to it. The end result will be a ton of money spent with no significant outcome to warrant the expense.

If you are planning to issue a banking RFP, consider the following:

(1) Conduct a liquidity/ banking analysis first that will assess all your organization’s needs, now and well into the future. The more information you can provide competing banks, the more they have to work with in providing a better response.

(2) Create a new RFP format that is fresh, forward thinking, and flexible, making it clear you will consider new ideas.

(3) Limit responses to fewer words and have more in-person conversations. We’ve found paper is not always the best way to determine the right fit.

(4) Address your cash and lending needs both now and in the future; provide a holistic picture. Given new federal regulations, many banks have not been responding to RFPs due to their lack of interest in holding such deposits.

(5) if you hire a consultant to prepare your RFP, make sure you’re not getting a rehash of some other client’s template. Make them do original brainstorming on your RFP and be accountable for the results.

If you decide to issue a banking-services RFP, do it right or else you will be just sending out expensive sheets of paper that will provide little value to your organization or to the banks you want to compete for your business.

If you don’t know where to start or need a fresh perspective, call us. At three+one, we help entities of all sizes evaluate their needs and determine if a banking RFP is right for them. If you’re interested, we can tailor an RFP document for you that is easy to read, reflects and articulates your needs, and is written to get more responses. Our goal is to make the paper your RFP is printed on an asset and not an unnecessary expense.

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We Hope to See You at our Upcoming Presentation:

GFOA of SC – October 16 – 19 (We’ll be presenting twice!)
North Country NY GFOA – October 20th
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To RFP, or not to RFP…

To RFP, or not to RFP...

This is the fourth part of three+one’s Summer Blog Series . As there are five Tuesdays in August, I will be addressing the top five questions the nation’s public and Higher Ed financial officers ask me as I travel across the country. Today’s question: “In today’s banking environment, does it still make sense to issue banking RFPs?”

Over the last two months I have seen dozens of public entities, nationwide, conduct banking depository/treasury-service RFPs.

Based on the type of RFP that was issued, the results I’ve seen have been mixed.

One thing is sure: recycling banking RFPs that were issued five-to-ten years ago got little response.

Those that were forward thinking, willing to integrate new technology, coupled with the desire to negotiate services and/or deposit levels, had far greater success.

I have seen some entities receive one or two responses while others got as many as six to eight.

The ones that were more progressive and used “out-of-the-box” thinking got better results from the larger national banks. Those RFPs that were more structured and “cookie cutter” in approach only got responses from smaller local banks.

Here are a few words of advice from what I’ve heard on the street:

1.) First, have a conversation with your current banker(s). Changing banks is a lot of work. If it is due to the quality of their customer service, let your bank know. If they’re not listening, then a RFP is totally warranted.

If you have no plans in changing banks, please save everyone’s time—including your own—and forget issuing an RFP. Time is a valuable commodity and your credibility will be lost in future RFP efforts if the outcome is predictable.

 

2.) If you are currently receiving a earning credit rate of .50 basis points or higher, then hold off too. The chances of getting the same rate will be at risk. Wait until short-term interest rates are higher; that’s most likely over the next two years.

3.) If you choose to conduct an RFP, don’t resort to the ”same old“ template. If you do that you will get “same old” back. A good RFP takes time, homework, and conversations with experts in the field.

Some banks want deposits, others don’t. Larger national banks have treasury services while smaller community banks have the flexibility to team up with third-party providers.

4.) Consider the pros and cons of ”hard“ banking fees and ”soft“ fees. While telling your boards or legislators that you’re pay no bank fees, the cost of soft fees could be far more expensive and less transparent than hard fees over the long haul. (That will be the focal point of next week’s blog).

5.) Keep your bank responses to under 25 pages. Conversations with bankers are far more valuable than “boiler-plate” written responses.

Finally, if you don’t know where to start, call three+one. We have conducted banking RFPs across the country and know the banking marketplace well. You will find our help and guidance can save you a lot of time and money.

Stay tuned for next week when we continue our three+one Summer Series where we answer the question:  “Which is better when paying for bank services, hard fees or soft fees?”

The Tale of Two RFPs

If you have gone through the RFP process you know how challenging it can be.

It takes time, many people, time, lots of paper…

The Tale of Two RFPs

…and still more time.

 

RFPs are issued in effort to ensure quality services are provided, to be transparent and to maximize the value. But, one must ask,

Is this being accomplished in today’s banking upheaval?

Isn’t now the time to revamp the way the RFP process works?

Recently two public entities issued RFPs for banking services. In both cases the need was there. Looking at the results, however, suggests a new RFP process is needed. The old process just does not recognize the changing banking environment, new regulations, rapidly changing technology, and the diversity needed to maximize the value of every dollar available for deposit. So what were the results?

The big surprise is the poor response. The incumbent bank decided not to even answer for one entity, and the multiple bank responses turned into one or two satisfactory proposals, with no cost savings applying the same type of banking services that had been used for years.

In neither case was “out-of-the-box” thinking presented by the banks; the rigid RFP document and process just does not allow it. But, as the banking world is clearly changing, shouldn’t the RFP process change with it? If we continue to use the same recycled RFP and RFP process that has always been used, should we expect to get anything different?

Well we are. We’re getting banks hesitant to take on public deposits. A new RFP process is needed, one that still provides transparency, ensures quality services, and maximizes the real value of the public entity funds.

Communication and dialogue are the keys to success in this effort. At three+one we have created a simple three-page call for proposals. This format calls all interested banks into a kick-off meeting where you explain your current situation, your needs, and your desire to be an attractive customer to the banks (noting that banks are becoming picky and want to be in control of who they have relationships with). The kick-off meeting gives license to be creative as long as your needs are met, noting that simply replicating what you have currently is not likely to be a winning solution. Learn about new technology and how the new generation is transacting payments today. Responses are not to be 200-page proposals, but rather two-hour individual presentations from the banks.

What are the results? You will find that some of your banking fees will go down, some may stay the same, and some may go up if you stay with all current services.

You will save a lot of time, both the time taken to write a lengthy RFP and time needed to read each 200-page proposal that comes in. You will also find that you have established a well-rounded and long-lasting relationship and you are better preparedfor the banking of today and the future.

If you are in need of issuing an RFP or have any questions, please feel free to call us. We are always happy to help.