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The Value of ACH Info Files

Does your bank receive its ACH files from FNBB via our online banking platform, NetLink or is it received elsewhere?  Some banks receive their ACH files directly from the Federal Reserve, but many banks have their ACH file directed to their Core Processor, which eliminates the need for manual file processing. This definitely makes sense as it’s convenient, but what happens when an issue arises that requires external assistance and the bank needs to reach out for support?

In talking with FNBB’s Client Services Manager, I learned that a significant number of client service calls are asking for support with some type of ACH issue. Our Client Services staff can easily assist those customers who receive their ACH files or ACH Info files via NetLink. However, without a copy of the ACH files the staff is limited in what support they can provide, although as always, they attempt to assist the customer in any way they can. But how much easier and straightforward would the support be if FNBB had the ACH file?  Which begs the question: Wouldn’t it be better for your operations staff to have access to EVERYTHING in one place and to get support when needed by using NetLink for ACH transactions?

If a financial institution does not receive its ACH files via NetLink and makes the decision to have the files delivered to their Core Processor, there is an option to have a copy of the ACH files delivered to FNBB. FI’s can direct the Federal Reserve to deliver an ACH Info File, which is a text version of their daily incoming ACH files, to their correspondent bank. FNBB customers who have elected this service receive the ACH Info files via NetLink. This allows them to view all transactions within their file and most importantly, the Client Services staff has access to view the file and provide assistance with any ACH issues. Another plus is that financial institutions can have multiple sources to send ACH returns and NOCs. NetLink can be used as a sending point or contingency site which will allow a FI to derive returns and NOCs.  Is there a cost to do this?  Yes. The Federal Reserve charges a monthly fee for creating ACH Info files and FNBB has a nominal monthly fee to deliver the files via NetLink.  So this leads to question, is it worth the extra money to have ACH Info files delivered to FNBB?

The largest percentage of ACH related calls to FNBB Client Services has to do with issues with reconcilement. An example is one where the ACH file is settling in the FI’s correspondent account at FNBB, but there is some issue with transactions or batches and the FI needs assistance with reconcilement, lest their G/L become out of balance. Hence the calls to FNBB for assistance. Without the ability to see the transactions within a batch, there is very little support that the FNBB support staff can provide.  According to recent Client Services call records, approximately two thirds of FNBB customers have needed reconcilement assistance in the past year. When you factor in the time your staff spends getting problems resolved outside of FNBB support, it is very likely that savings of frustration and time spent trying to reconcile ACH far outweighs the cost of an ACH Info file.  But reconcilement is only one of multiple areas where you may not be saving money by not providing an Info file to FNBB.  Here are some other things to consider:

  • Suppose your processor is down and you need access to ACH information, either for posting or for responding to a customer. If FNBB is delivering an Info file, then you can have access to any information you might need;
  • Most processors only hold ACH files for a few weeks. FNBB holds all ACH files for 6 months. This can really make a difference if you need to create an ACH return and the processor no longer has the ACH file that contains the original entry, meaning you have to manually key in a return.  That is time consuming and prone to keying errors.  NetLink would allow you to easily find the ACH transaction and derive the return. This is by far a better and more accurate way to handle a return.
  • As previously mentioned, your staff is using NetLink throughout the day for many payment, settlement and reporting events. How much time is wasted in switching back and forth to a different system for ACH? Conversely, how much time would be saved by having all of the activity that your Operations staff needs to execute out of a single user interface?

It is possible to assign a cost to the three elements I have documented above but rather than do that, I ask that you would agree there is a true benefit to receiving ACH Info files. Your staff is calling FNBB and not the processor or the Fed for ACH support because they know that we answer every inbound support call and provide an extremely high level of service.  So even though they know that FNBB doesn’t have all of the information needed to assist in remediating the problem, they call us anyway.  How much better would it be if we had access to your ACH files to provide the answers they need?

We would love for all our customers to receive their ACH files via NetLink. But we understand that it may not be practical for every FI to do so depending on their core system and the options for automating ACH file delivery for processing.  Instead, we would like for each FI to consider signing up for the ACH Info File delivery service. Yes, it will cost you a little each month to add this option but trust me, your Operations staff will greatly appreciate the investment you are making in removing operational headaches and lowering job stress.  If you have questions or would like to subscribe to the Info ACH File delivery service, contact Client Services at 800-807-9743 or clientservices@bankers-bank.com.