Running the IT operation at a community bank or credit union is high stakes on a normal day. Add in expansion projects, annual regulatory reviews, or a cybersecurity hack, and your ability to keep up can be compromised quickly. That’s why so many community banks and credit unions turn to a managed IT service provider for help.
A high quality MSP can help you get ahead of your daily tasks, and plan for the future. Yet, it can hard to figure out where to draw the line between “internal” tasks, and the tasks an MSP should complete. What can an IT MSP do for you? If they have deep experience working with clients in the banking industry—plenty. Let’s talk about the reasons why so many banks and credit unions turn to MSPs to take their infrastructure to the next level.
Why Community Financial Institutions Choose to Work with an Outside MSP
Community banks and credit unions often find themselves in a double bind: too small to have a large internal IT department, yet still bound by the same high operational standards seen in enterprise grade institutions. It’s an area of stress seen in most of the 2,000 C-suite level IT leaders we interviewed for our latest report “Understanding US Bank’ Annual Spend for 2024.” As a result, 86 percent of the banks we surveyed said they see room for improvement in their IT service and none reported they were cutting their IT spend. In fact, more than a third said they weren’t confident their current IT budget was sufficient to meet their needs.
What are these financial institutions hiring MSPs to do? Here are some of the top reasons why financial services companies are choosing to outsource part, or all, of their IT.
#1—Improving Regulatory Compliance
With the increasing importance of data privacy and regulatory mandates, banks face the challenge of ensuring they’re always in line with regulations such as the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS), Sarbanes Oxley, and the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLBA). An MSP with experience in the financial sector ensures that compliance is not just met, but seamlessly integrated into daily operations.
Certainly, banks are calling on MSPs to help them get regulation ready with cloud cybersecurity packages. Most MSPs can provide the right blend of tools, and handle all the monitoring and patching. The right MSP, however, can take you harden your regulatory compliance efforts with strategic governance.
Good regulatory governance lies in the details, such as:
- making sure your cybersecurity suite of tools works well together, with no gaps
- generating the monitoring reports that regulators need to see
- establishing the right KPIs that can help your organization monitor the right things
- generating the written cybersecurity policies needed for regulators and cyber risk insurers, such as remote access/authentication protocols, staff cybersecurity training records and so much more
- creating documentation needed for yearly regulatory reviews
- helping you apply for cyber risk insurance
But regulatory compliance is only one part of your cybersecurity efforts. Day to day cybersecurity management is important, too.
# 2—Cybersecurity Operations That Stand Up to the Threat
According to our latest report, most banks are confident in their current cybersecurity program. However, a concerning 47% believe their IT spending is insufficient.
That’s not a particularly surprising finding, considering that cybersecurity attacks against banks are getting more sophisticated by the day, and are increasing in frequency. They’re also costing more. In 2022, the average cost of a data breach in the financial industry worldwide was nearly six million U.S. dollars, ranking second after the healthcare sector.
An MSP provides the specialized focus required to ensure that all vulnerabilities are addressed and that banks are shielded from potential threats. An MSP can help you install and manage the right cybersecurity tools that are paired with your usage levels and system needs. This is especially helpful for distributed organizations that have employees working on site and remote, and who may have onsite servers paired with cloud based productivity tools and backup solutions. A good MSP can help you think through all the angles that impact your cybersecurity operations, including:
- tracking and administering cybersecurity training for your staff
- doing regular penetration tests to ensure your defenses are working as intended
- installing, licensing, and servicing cybersecurity software for your employees
- Patching and upgrades for all your cybersecurity tools
- Proactively recommending new cybersecurity approaches as your system needs increase
- Creating a disaster recovery protocol with offsite backup
#3—Mastering Your IT Budget
Over a third of US banks lack confidence in their current IT budget. Balancing the demands of top-notch IT infrastructure with budgetary constraints is a common concern. An MSP can help ensure that you’re spending your budget wisely, while saving for the future. If you start off your MSP relationshiop with a thorough, paid assessment, you’ll be able to reap even more benefits.
Why? Because a paid assessment assures every nook and cranny of your system is reviewed, before your MSP begins. This provides you with a critical strategic opportunity to stand back and ask the question: how can my current system be aligned with my future needs? Your new MSP should help you step back and take a look at your larger issues, such as:
- where redundancies and waste reside in your systems. Do you have expired or unused software licenses? Hardware that’s no longer needed? Do your people have the proper equipment they need to do their jobs?
- managing your software/hardware lifecycle, so you generate reports and onboarding/offboarding more easily, while having hard data you can use for your yearly budgeting
- Helping you with implementation plans to accomplish your major projects, with labor costs carefully
A good MSP should do more than take care of delegated tasks. They should help you run better, and wisely spend your IT dollars.
#4—Optimizing User Experience
In today’s cashless society, it’s more important than ever to offer your customers zippy interfaces that work equally well on any device, at home or away. When you work with an MSP that has substantial banking industry experience, they can help you compare the capacity of your system against other competitor banks or credit unions. They can help you align your user experience with your business goals, so your system is always safe, competitive, and one step ahead of your needs.
#5—Creating Buy-in Around your Long-Term IT Plans
Beyond the immediate IT needs, community banks need a vision for the future. Your MSP can help you create that vision, then sell it up the line to your decisionmakers.
Assuming your MSP has done everything from point one to four, you’ll have the planning and documentation in hand to make big asks of your management. And, since you can’t manage what you can’t measure, your MSP can give you the data points you need to make that happen. Specifically they can help you:
- craft a long-term plan that’s based on your current usage, your business goals, and what is considered standard best-practice in the financial services industry
- prove you’re meeting your KPIs around security and compliance
- create reports on the overall health of your systems and the status of your expansion projects to senior management
- Provide implementation plans in advance that will accurately predict the turnaround times and resources needed to accomplish expansions
Your MSP can be the best partner you ever had, providing you with the back up to get the job done and the receipts to argue for your next investment.
Is Your Financial Institution Ready to Work with an MSP?
The right MSP can help you determine where the gaps are in your organization, and can help you manage your internal staff assets alongside the engineers and service desk professionals your MSP provides. The time to explore your options is now.
Looking to evaluate your bank’s IT needs? Contact Integris for a Free Consultation and ensure your institution is future-ready.