With each new phone line, Banner Bank, a financial services provider with locations throughout California, Utah, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, unintentionally inflated their telecom expenses. Each time they added a new line, the phone wasn’t assigned to their corporate long-distance account.

With each of these new unassigned lines, the bank was charged 15 cents per minute, rather than the three cents per minute fee associated with their corporate account.

“It seems like small claims charges, like nothing really, but we’ve saved Banner Bank more than $20,000 in long-distance calls alone,” says Sarah Cook, client account manager at Ruby+Solberg. “The bank didn’t even realize they were accruing these charges each time they added a new line.”

Credit unions and financial institutions like Banner Bank are often unaware of these hidden or unnoticed telecom savings. While most businesses are overpaying on telecom fees by 50 percent, banks face unique challenges, making their need for telecom expense management (TEM) services even greater.

On average, a bank’s largest telecom fees include data and mobile phones; however, unique fees like ATM — which run on phone lines — affect these charges. It’s also common for banks to open and close branches and merge with or acquire other financial institutions, which adds to the complication of managing multiple locations with various telecom bills, allocations and vendors.

“With a large number of locations it’s important to make sure nothing falls through the cracks,” says Cook. “Telecom audits are a great way to manage pain points and show how much money a bank can save really quickly. But ongoing monthly expense management is the only way to ensure fees don’t creep back up and additional fees aren’t introduced.”

Banner Bank’s path to savings

Banner Bank is a Washington-chartered commercial bank headquartered in Walla Walla, Washington, with roots that date back to 1890. The $10.2 billion bank holding company operates two commercial banks in five Western states. Its network of branches offers a full range of deposit services and business, commercial real estate, construction, residential, agricultural and consumer loans.

Ruby+Solberg has managed Banner Bank’s telecom expenses for a decade. With Validated Telecom Billing (VTB®) services, Ruby+Solberg reviews every single telecom bill — from each banking location — to ensure they mitigate late fees, third-party charges and any incorrect fees or double charges. These fees are allocated into the financial institution’s ledger code and then detailed in custom reports to illustrate where the bank is exhausting their telecom resources.

With VTB, all of Banner Bank’s invoices are sent to Ruby+Solberg and stored in a secure software platform along with its vendor contracts and records of disputes, and a professional telecommunications analyst makes each telecom payment on the bank’s behalf.

“Banking telecom fees require particular attention to detail due to the nature of their industry and budgeting,” says Cook. “These institutions like to track where their money is going.”

It’s this attention to detail by Ruby+Solberg that helped save Banner Bank more than $20,000 in long-distance fees alone.