Credit unions are required to submit financial and operational information quarterly to the NCUA via the 5300 Call Report. The Call Report contains over 900 pieces of data (the NCUA refers to the data as Account Codes) and gathering the information is time consuming and tedious for credit unions. Having a core provider with a Call Report tool that captures and stores this information along with a dedicated resource managing the system is a huge time saver. Here’s a look behind the curtain at the way one service provider has designed and manages its tool to support credit unions in this work.
Highlight of Call Report tool features
The key time saving feature of an effective solution is automation routines that pull data such as general ledger balances from the core system directly to the Call Report tool. In the case of the tool our CUSO provides, once automation routines are configured by the credit union, the data populates automatically each quarter. Over 60% of the Call Report data can be populated via automation routines. More than 95% of the balance sheet and income statement information has automation routines available.
Another feature of our Call Report tool is built in warning messages that alert the credit union of errors or edit messages they might receive once their data is imported to the NCUA. The NCUA has checks and balances in place for items such as assets equaling liabilities, or ensuring that if a dollar amount of loans is reported there must be an associated quantity.
The Call Report tool contains the same subtotals that the NCUA calculates and stores once credit union data is uploaded to the NCUA site. While inputting Call Report data, the credit union can review subtotals, for items such as investments or loan amounts to ensure the accuracy of the information being entered. The subtotals can also be hidden from view if desired.
Each Account Code (remember there are 900+) has online help documentation that describes the Account Code (per the NCUA Instructions) and also contains tips on gathering the information from the core system.
Gathering data for the Call Report
In addition to using automation routines, credit unions gather Call Report data via various reports and dashboards within the core system. A small percentage of the data for the Call Report is gathered manually using internal spreadsheets, activity logs, etc. How much of the Call Report data that is gathered manually, via automation routines, or via dashboards or reports varies by credit union depending on how their data is organized in the core system. It is important to keep in mind that the NCUA looks for consistency in the data reported each quarter.
5300 Call Report ratios dashboard
The NCUA publishes a Financial Performance Report (FPR) every quarter that includes data from the 5300 Call Report in the form of ratios, percentages and dollar amounts. Credit unions use these ratios to measure financial performance and key trends. Our core system provides 28 of these same ratios in a 5300 Call Report Ratios dashboard. This is a separate tool that pulls data from the 5300 Call Report Tool with calculations that mirror the NCUA calculations.
Responsibilities of the Call Report Coordinator
Due to the importance of the Call Report and our dedication to supporting our credit unions, our CUSO made the call to employ a 5300 Call Report Coordinator who is responsible for monitoring the required Account Code data that is subject to change quarterly. During the last month of every calendar quarter (March, June, September and December), the NCUA posts 5300 Call Report changes to their website. The NCUA can add, remove or change reporting information and some quarters no changes are made. Even if there are no NCUA changes, the Call Report Tool must be kept current and the import of the data to the NCUA website must be tested.
Every quarter the current “template” of Account Codes is updated based on the NCUA’s reporting changes. It is important that the Call Report tool is kept in sync with the NCUA’s latest version of the Call Report. For validation, test Call Reports are created and imported to the NCUA site via their import test utility feature. Multiple tests are needed because the required Account Codes differ based on whether the credit union is federal or state chartered. Successful import tests ensure that the credit union’s quarterly data will import to the NCUA’s live site without errors. If errors occur, then research is needed and the Coordinator may reach out to the NCUA for help resolving the errors.
Because automation routines are assigned to specific Account Codes, each time that the NCUA adds or deletes Account Codes the automation routines must be reviewed and adjusted as necessary. The NCUA can also add or change warning messages (not as common) that also must be monitored. The NCUA can be a moving target, therefore continual analysis of the current Call Report data and the impact to the Call Report tool is critical.
The Call Report Coordinator periodically reviews core system reports and dashboards for enhancements that will make gathering information for the Call Report easier. Feedback from credit unions is strongly encouraged. In fact, most Call Report enhancement projects come from credit union ideas or suggestions from internal Call Report experts.
To keep credit unions up-to-date, the Call Report Coordinator prepares a quarterly update letter that details the NCUA changes (if any) and also highlights recent updates to the core system that may help with gathering data for the Call Report. The quarterly update letter is distributed to credit unions just prior to when they will begin that quarter’s Call Report.
The Call Report Coordinator develops and maintains the Account Code level help (mentioned earlier) and other online help documentation. The help documentation must be updated anytime the NCUA makes Account Code changes. The “5300 Call Report Tools” booklet that contains specific instructions on how to use the feature functionality also requires ongoing review.
Another quarterly task of the Call Report Coordinator is to analyze the FPR published by the NCUA and determine if any of the ratio calculations for the 5300 Call Report ratio dashboard have changed. If the NCUA adds or changes Account Codes used in the ratio calculations, programming changes are needed. The changes to the core system are outlined via a project sheet and/or specifications by the Call Report Coordinator.
The 5300 Call Report can be a daunting task for a credit union. While it’s important to the industry, we prefer to let credit unions get to the work of improving their operations rather than focusing on this particular task. That’s why an investment in functionality that makes this process easier was a no brainer for our organization. Anything we’re missing? I’d love to hear what others are doing to help credit unions in this area!