Ever feel like you’re missing the CRA support you need? Having to comply with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) means tracking a lot of data and learning a lot of new information. But resources are scarce for bankers coming into a CRA role, and finding this support can be daunting.
Knowing what data to track, how to track it, and where to find all this information is hard, especially if you’re thrown into the CRA world without much previous experience. Monica Ritter from First Northern Bank of Dixon knows this all too well.
Monica started working at the bank in 2002 as a loan officer assistant. Since then, she’s also worked as a loan processing officer, loan specialist, mortgage loan coordinator, and, now, a Compliance/CRA analyst. “Moving to CRA was a change I wasn’t sure I wanted to make,” she said. “But I didn’t realize how much my prior experience was going to help me with what I’m doing now.”
When Monica made the leap to CRA, she had to learn fast. She may have known a bit about loans, but she didn’t know the nuances of the Community Reinvestment Act or what it takes to actually make it through a CRA exam. She didn’t know what data needed to be tracked or where she was supposed to track that data.
Luckily, First Northern Bank of Dixon was already using Kadince software. “When I joined the Compliance team, Kadince was one of the first things I was introduced to,” Monica said.
To learn how the software worked, Monica met with Jandi, a Kadince Customer Support Specialist. “Jandi walked me through everything,” Monica said. “She was so great, and she really showed me what the software was capable of.”
Monica was grateful to have an easy-to-use solution that made her job so much simpler. But Kadince is a software company, and it couldn’t give her the CRA knowledge she needed to really be successful in her role. As many of you know, and as Monica soon found out, getting that crucial CRA education is a lot easier said than done.
Luckily, Julieanne thought ahead. She signed Monica up for the CRA Fundamentals and Hub through CRA Today, knowing that this would give Monica the solid foundation she needed to jump into the data and make sense of the bank’s community development efforts.
The CRA Hub is part of CRA Today, a company serving CRA Officers and others in CRA roles throughout the country. CRA Today is owned and run by Linda Ezuka, a former CRA Officer with over 29 years of experience teaching others about the CRA.
While CRA Today offers some free trainings and resources for CRA Officers, the CRA Hub is a paid membership designed to help bankers connect, get exam ready, and master the art of the CRA. A Hub membership comes with monthly training sessions, special guests, member spotlights, CRA challenges, private group discussions, huddles with Linda, and more.
“Linda really listens to what Hub members have to say,” Monica said. “She’s always changing topics and rotating ideas so that we learn the things we need. The CRA Hub has been a crucial part of my success in my role. I’m so happy to participate in the Hub and learn from Linda and other CRA Hub members like myself.”
Now that Monica is part of the CRA Hub, she has the tools she needs to gather, track, and manage all the bank’s CRA data. “Both the CRA Hub and Kadince have been instrumental in my role at the bank,” she said. “These two pieces together have made coming into this role not so scary.
“Nobody makes you feel better about not knowing something than Linda does. She is more than happy to walk through things to help you better understand. And I always feel like I can reach out to someone at Kadince and get the answers I need. None of my questions are treated as stupid or silly. Jandi and Shannon take me seriously and do everything they can to get me what I need. With them, I truly have the support I need.”
That support was tested earlier this year when Monica went through her first CRA exam. “I was nervous and overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to expect,” Monica said. But she knew that the support she had through Kadince and the CRA Hub would help her team get through it.
Ultimately, the exam went smoothly and the bank scored a Satisfactory. “Examiners had access to Kadince,” Monica said, “And that helped the process move pretty quickly. I wasn’t involved much with the examiners, but I did walk one examiner through Kadince and showed her how it worked. She said it was super helpful, and she loved that we’re able to put the Charity Check reports directly into Kadince.”
Now that Monica’s gone through her first exam and knows what to expect, she says, “Next time I’m going to be more prepared! I had less than a year to learn everything I needed to get through that first exam, and there were years of data I had to prepare all at once. I was as prepared as I could be given the circumstances. Without extra data to log, I can really focus on making my data as clean as possible. And I’m excited to continue learning about the CRA world and becoming more of an expert. With Kadince and the CRA Hub, I feel like I have that team to rely on and learn from.”
Jaidyn Crookston is the author of this article and is the content manager at Kadince. She graduated from Southern Utah University in 2021, where she studied creative and technical writing. Jaidyn has always loved how words work together to create a strong message that can be used for good, which is something she tries to do through her work with Kadince.