CU*Answers’ AuditLink selects Virtual StrongBox to help transform and grow compliance initiatives

Jim Vilker, NCCO

Virtual audit capabilities expected to reduce compliance costs and set the stage for strategic growth

Virtual StrongBox, Inc. and CU*Answers announced today that the two companies have teamed up to transform compliance and audit processes for its credit unions and auditors. AuditLink, the audit and compliance division of CU*Answers, will use Virtual StrongBox’s secure platform during virtual audits to ensure that sensitive information remains safe while engaging in the exchange of private and financial information with a compliance team member.

Financial audits and regulatory exams have become a major expense for credit unions. Auditors and examiners often must be onsite for four or more days, incurring considerable travel expenses that credit unions must reimburse.

“AuditLink is a great example of an organization transforming the way work will get done in the future,” said Ron Daly, president & CEO of Virtual StrongBox. “Our platform will eliminate the need for planes, trains and automobiles and will greatly enhance AuditLink employees’ work life.”

With Virtual StrongBox’s platform, AuditLink’s compliance team can now perform many audit activities remotely from their offices, saving time and reducing the number of days auditors must be on travel.

“Compliance is not an optional item for the credit union industry and the cost of compliance has only continued to rise for our customers,” said Marsha Sapino, AuditLink assistant manager. “The biggest return on our investment in virtual audits is that we will save both the client and ourselves time and money and enable us to expand our market reach.”

Virtual StrongBox’s technology is making it possible to work remotely and securely when exchanging files and data between the credit union and its compliance examiners. The AuditLink compliance team will be able to streamline the exam process using prebuilt checklists and granting credit union employees access to quickly provide required documents in a collaborative, easy-to-use digital experience.

“We are excited about the AuditLink and Virtual StrongBox partnership and the doors it will open for changing the way we perform audits and allow us to grow our business,” Sapino concluded.

AuditLink trains clients on using CU*BASE® tools for abnormal activity monitoring

Jim Vilker, NCCO

AuditLink, the audit and compliance division of CU*Answers, held a training webinar on how to utilize the tools available to CU*Answers clients via the CU*BASE system for monitoring high risk accounts for abnormal activity. “I was happy to see over 60 clients on the call today,” states Marsha Sapino, AuditLink Assistant Manager. “I felt we went over a lot of great material that will help both clients familiar with the tools that needed a refresher and clients that haven’t used the tools yet.” AuditLink has posted the PowerPoint presentation on their website for anyone that was not able to make the webinar.

AuditLink Trains Clients on Abnormal Activity Monitoring

Marsha Sapino AAP

I want to thank the 63 clients that joined me today for our training on Abnormal Activity monitoring.  As promised, I have attached the presentation slides.

 

Abnormal Activity Monitoring

Network Compliance Group Returns

Jim Vilker, NCCO

AuditLink, the audit and compliance division of CU*Answers, has decided to breathe new life into their Network Compliance Group. “We have had a lot of previous members and new clients ask us to revive the group, so we are!” stated Marsha Sapino, AuditLink Assistant Manager.

The group was started by Sapino in 2011 when she worked at Meijer Credit Union, a client of CU*Answers. “I wanted a group of peers that I could have discussions with regarding compliance related topics. So I contacted a handful of local credit union’s that also use the CU*Answers software.”  The group would have Round Robin email discussions and would meet in person periodically.

When Sapino shifted employment from the credit union to CU*Answers in 2012, the network group came with her. “The email strings continued and we still had our meetings but then it just fizzled out about a year later.”

Fast forward to today, an announcement email went out to new and old members stating that the group is back and bigger than ever. “We currently have about 110 members in the group from New York to California. We plan to hold quarterly meetings and want to take advantage of our POV (Presence on Video) training room so we can involve our members that are unable to attend in person”.

If there are any compliance individuals that would like to be added to AuditLink’s compliance group, please email Marsha Sapino at marsha.sapino@cuanswers.com.

CU*Answers and Fortress Plus partner on the future of financial crime prevention

Jim Vilker, NCCO

CU*Answers has chosen Fortress Plus as its partner in providing the future of financial crime risk management systems to credit unions. The new relationship enables CU*Answers to sell Rampart, the Fortress Plus system, and paves the way for deep integration to support embedded decisioning for fraud prevention.

The new agreement comes on the heels of the two organizations’ recent partnership enabling AuditLink, the audit and compliance division of CU*Answers, to use Rampart in providing comprehensive fraud management and prevention services. The combined approach enables CU*Answers to bring a financial crime risk management system to the market as both a user and a provider of the technology thereby enabling a greater level of service through deeper understanding.

Randy Karnes, CEO of CU*Answers stated, “We are designing a competency in CU*BASE® (CU*Answers’ core data processing system) that embeds technology and processes to extend beyond a tactical response to financial crime to a strategic initiative designed to reduce credit union employee overhead while minimizing friction for the member.”

“CU*Answers provides the visionary partner that Fortress Plus needs to achieve our goal of high efficiency, low friction fraud prevention,” added Jeff Whelton, President of Fortress Plus. “Their commitment to innovating for their credit union owners and clients creates an environment for both companies to learn and grow in financial crime risk management.”

Credit unions are enjoying the benefits of a strong economy which results in less crime. Now is the time to build your defenses against the coming shift of this bull market. Waiting until the economy is in a bear market will put you in less of a position to invest while you are under the greatest levels of assault by bad actors.

Network Compliance Group Returns

Jim Vilker, NCCO
AuditLink, the audit and compliance division of CU*Answers, recently announced the return of its Network Compliance Group. “We have had a lot of previous members and new clients ask us to revive the group, so we are!” stated Marsha Sapino, AuditLink Assistant Manager. The group was started by Sapino in 2011 when she worked at Meijer Credit Union, a client of CU*Answers. “I wanted a group of peers that I could have discussions with regarding compliance related topics,” Sapino added. “So I contacted a handful of local credit unions that also use the CU*BASE® software.” The group had round robin email discussions and met in person periodically. When Sapino shifted employment from the credit union to CU*Answers in 2012, the network group came with her. “The email strings continued and we still had our meetings, but shifting priorities and new initiatives resulted in the group falling apart.” Fast forward to today, an announcement went out to old and prospective new members stating that the group is back and bigger than ever, with over 100 members from California to New York. The group will hold quarterly meetings held via web conferencing tools to allow all to attend and participate.  

CU*Answers Helps Credit Unions Raise Their Voice

Jim Vilker, NCCO

In response to the recent NCUA call for comments on the proposed TCCUSF refund, CU*Answers encouraged its employees and partner credit unions to raise their voices. “Too often credit unions remain silent while important proposals are passed with no comment or fight,” said Randy Karnes, CU*Answers CEO. “The ‘Raise Your Voice!’ initiative we’ve done in the past is about helping credit unions and their members get the word out to the NCUA that they want their opinions heard.”

To facilitate the process of commenting to the NCUA, CU*Answers created a webpage making it easy for individuals to complete a simple form and submit a letter. To help with crafting the letter, CU*Answers included common criticisms of the proposal, such as the increase of the Normal Operating Level, for users to copy, paste, and adjust as they saw fit.

“It’s important for as many comment letters to be sent to NCUA as possible,” said Bill Burke, Day Air Credit Union CEO prior to the deadline, who advocated against increasing the NOL. The community responded in kind as over forty CU*Answers employees and representatives from over twenty-five client credit unions submitted letters to the NCUA voicing their complaints.

AuditLink Hosts “An Afternoon of Compliance”

Jim Vilker, NCCO

AuditLink, the audit and compliance division of CU*Answers, recently hosted “An Afternoon of Compliance” for network clients. “It’s the first time we have hosted a training event both in person and via webinar,” stated Marsha Sapino, AuditLink Assistant Manager. “We had eight people join us at our facility and 43 attend online.”

During this session, Jim Vilker, VP of Professional Services and head of AuditLink, discussed recent regulatory updates in the industry while Sapino trained clients on recent releases to the CU*BASE® core processing platform that credit union compliance officers would find helpful. AuditLink also went over an audit plan that they, along with Honor CU, Frankenmuth CU and Alpena Alcona Area CU collaborated on. It is a plan that any credit union in the network can use as a template for managing their audit and compliance internal program.

“We are happy with the attendance and the response from our clients,” added Sapino. “With the addition of making these sessions available remotely, we’re excited that even more in the national network will be able to take advantage of them, beyond just those in the West Michigan area.”

AuditLink Holds its Third Annual Compliance Symposium

Jim Vilker, NCCO

AuditLink, the auditing and compliance division of CU*Answers, facilitated its third annual compliance symposium sponsored by Michigan Legacy Credit Union in Pontiac, Michigan. “This is the largest event AuditLink facilitates during the year, which has grown in popularity and this year included over thirty compliance professionals,” said Jim Vilker VP of Professional Services.

To start the day a presentation on the upcoming changes relative to the Bank Secrecy Act and new requirements for beneficial owners of accounts was presented by Veronica Madsen of Howard & Howard Attorneys. “This is on every BSA officer’s mind and the nuances and requirements of the regulation were explained extremely well,” added Vilker. Following Madsen, Vilker presented a regulatory update and status of the new service AuditLink and thirteen other credit unions built cooperatively for automating the vendor management process and requirements.

Jessica Hillborg of Frankenmuth Credit Union and Angie Szatkowski of Alpena Alcona Area Credit Union joined Vilker in an afternoon panel discussion that included the presentation of an audit plan that any credit union in the network can use as a template for managing their audit and compliance internal program. It was the result of over two months of work where the two credit unions and Amanda Craig from Honor Credit Union joined together and created a working template for all of the credit unions.

“Credit unions are now expected to create an annual plan, but struggle with what exactly that plan should include,” said Szatkowski. “In true cooperative spirit, we collectively created a template that calendarizes all events, including the role of an internal auditor, required risk assessments, the management of exams and third party audits, all the way through to the implementation of a solid set of internal controls.”

Connie Jones, VP of Internal Audit at Michigan Legacy Credit Union, attended the event and commented: “I always say that if I come away from a meeting/conference learning one or two valuable things, I believe it to be a good one. This conference was by far one of the most valuable that I have attended in a while. I am very excited about taking internal auditing to the next level at my credit union.”

To see the presentations and audit plan template go to https://auditlinksuite.cuanswers.com/.

AuditLink’s Third Annual Conversations On Compliance Event was a Success

Marsha Sapino AAP

AuditLink, the auditing and compliance division of CU*Answers, facilitated its third annual compliance symposium sponsored by Michigan Legacy Credit Union in Pontiac, Michigan. “This is the largest event AuditLink facilitates during the year, which has grown in popularity and this year included over thirty compliance professionals,” said Jim Vilker VP of Professional Services.

To start the day a presentation on the upcoming changes relative to the Bank Secrecy Act and new requirements for beneficial owners of accounts was presented by Veronica Madsen of Howard & Howard Attorneys. “This is on every BSA officer’s mind and the nuances and requirements of the regulation were explained extremely well,” added Vilker. Following Madsen, Vilker presented a regulatory update and status of the new service AuditLink and thirteen other credit unions built cooperatively for automating the vendor management process and requirements.

Jessica Hillborg of Frankenmuth Credit Union and Angie Szatkowski of Alpena Alcona Area Credit Union joined Vilker in an afternoon panel discussion that included the presentation of an audit plan that any credit union in the network can use as a template for managing their audit and compliance internal program. It was the result of over two months of work where the two credit unions and Amanda Craig from Honor Credit Union joined together and created a working template for all of the credit unions.

“Credit unions are now expected to create an annual plan, but struggle with what exactly that plan should include,” said Szatkowski. “In true cooperative spirit, we collectively created a template that calendarizes all events, including the role of an internal auditor, required risk assessments, the management of exams and third party audits, all the way through to the implementation of a solid set of internal controls.”

Connie Jones, VP of Internal Audit at Michigan Legacy Credit Union, attended the event and commented: “I always say that if I come away from a meeting/conference learning one or two valuable things, I believe it to be a good one. This conference was by far one of the most valuable that I have attended in a while. I am very excited about taking internal auditing to the next level at my credit union.”

The presentations and audit plan template are below

Regulatory Update Compliance Symposium

Beneficial Ownership Rule

Compliance Audit Plan 2017

AuditLink to Host Third Annual Conversations on Compliance

Jim Vilker, NCCO

CU*Answers, the 100% credit union-owned cooperative CUSO, will provide their third annual Conversations on Compliance event hosted by AuditLink, the audit and compliance division of the CUSO. AuditLink’s own Jim Vilker and Marsha Sapino will be joined by Veronica Madsen from Howard & Howard Law for Business as they discuss topics such as beneficial ownership, regulatory updates, vendor management, and the best way to develop an audit plan.

“There’s an appetite among credit unions for information relating to regulatory updates and compliance in general,” said Vilker. “Following last year’s lively discussion, we expect this year to be no less informative and beneficial to credit unions nationwide.”

The event will be held at Michigan Legacy Credit Union in Pontiac, MI, on Thursday, May 25th from 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET. To find out more information such as the education course details, the agenda, as well as to register for this event, visit the CU*Answers website.

AuditLink Hosts April Vendor Management Webinar

Jim Vilker, NCCO

CU*Answers, the 100% credit-union owned CUSO, provided another webinar hosted by AuditLink and Trust Exchange on Tuesday, April 25. AuditLink and Trust Exchange partnered to create one of the most robust vendor management tools and services in the country by combining years of expertise, business intelligence, and best practice.

Jim Vilker, CU*Answers VP of Professional Services, and Ed Sullivan, President of Trust Exchange, lead the discussion on monitoring requirements between vendors and credit unions, and demonstrated how to use a collaborative economy without breaking the bank.

AuditLink Publishes Primer on Vendor Assessment Process

Jim Vilker, NCCO
AuditLink, the auditing and compliance division of CU*Answers, and Trust Exchange, a firm which helps financial institutions automate their vendor compliance monitoring, have recently published a white paper revolving around the components and process of determining the criticality of vendor relationships. “Assessing criticality is one of the most important components of a complete vendor management program,” said Jim Vilker, VP of Professional Services for AuditLink. The process described in the primer was based upon a year of field work with a number of credit unions including Frankenmuth CU, Diversified Members CU, and Parkside CU. The amount of research and application of FFIEC, NCUA, and other regulatory guidance has resulted in a working document that can be used to document their thought process using a risk-based approach that is practical and guides the credit union through the process. “Expectation going in was to develop a process that identifies the risk of the relationship and designs the ongoing due diligence to mitigate those risks identified throughout the vendor life cycle,” Vilker added. “Taking a cooperative approach to vendor management is the only way this industry is going to drive down the cost of this vital function and regulatory requirement. Developing whitepapers, facilitating seminars, and sharing knowledge has been our mantra from the beginning and it is beginning to pay off much faster than originally anticipated.” Vilker added that AuditLink is in the process of developing its next white paper and web conference on the components of monitoring function and thought process revolving around the evaluation of due diligence data. “What we have found interesting is how to address the instance in which a required piece of due diligence cannot be provided by the vendor. Do they fail as a trusted vendor? Is it acceptable business risk? Do they have other controls that do not meet the standard SOC 1 or 2 which achieve the same risk mitigating result?” These questions and others will be outlined in the CUSO’s next upcoming web conference on March 29th, and published in April. Click the link below to view the whitepaper. Tier-Levels-Primer.docx

Learn More about the Cost of Vendor Management with AuditLink

Jim Vilker, NCCO

Hear about the latest strategies from AuditLink, as we continue our discussions on Vendor ManagementAuditLink and TrustExchange have partnered to create one of the most robust Vendor Management tools and processes in the country.  Technology has finally been married with expertise, business intelligence, and best practice.

Join Jim Vilker, VP of Professional Services, and Ed Sullivan, President of Trust Exchange, as they discuss various monitoring requirements between vendors and credit unions.  Discover how to use a collaborative economy to scale without breaking the bank, and learn how credit unions are enabling each other to build a platform that solves vendor management problems for CUSOs and credit unions simultaneously.

We encourage all individuals responsible for vendor management to attend!

Join us Wednesday, March 29

11:00 AM – 11:30 AM ET

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AuditLink is your execution arm for tackling auditing and compliance-related requirements and the supporting core system processes driving your operations.  Credit Unions that work with AuditLink gain confidence knowing they have implemented effective procedures and controls to be in compliance with regulatory requirements.