The banking industry is unique in the amount of regulatory scrutiny it is subject to, much of which is in the form of self-reporting. Since legislation was passed in 1975 in response to the failure of two federally chartered institutions (United States National Bank and Franklin National Bank), every national bank, state bank, federal savings bank, federal savings association, and credit union is mandated by law to report highly standardized and detailed information about its operations to a central authority, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC). These “Call Reports” contain a broad spectrum of financial measurement in the form of earnings, liquidity, capital, asset and liability and growth management.
Unpacking what’s in a call report
The intrinsic value of the Call Report is the ability to measure the performance of individual institutions against their peer groups and assist in analyzing individual bank performance and relative performance. This value is particularly evident when the data is aggregated into a cohesive data set issued quarterly by FFIEC, known as Uniform Bank Performance Reports (UBPR).
These bank-specific updates provide an enormous amount of transparency into the performance and efficiency of each financial institution. Due to the quality and exhaustive nature of this publicly available information, it serves as the primary mechanism for regulatory oversight and supervision.. It’s also invaluable to the financial sector as a whole by empowering bankers, investors, and analysts with performance insights comparing any given bank to a group of peers or competitors.
In addition to the more common financial information such as the income statements and balance sheets, call report and UBPR data contain detailed information about operational strategies (funding and lending), asset performance (yields and delinquencies), and off-balance sheet exposures.
While the availability of this data is well-known to industry insiders, it also has a reputation for being difficult to access and use. Ed O’Leary, a lecturer on banking practices and an industry veteran, agrees that the value of Call Report data to the industry and usefulness in regulatory oversight cannot be overstated. With a nearly 50-year career in lending, credit administration, and senior executive roles at community banks and large financial institutions, Mr. O’Leary makes a similar observation:
“Since they first became available in the 1970s, the Uniform Bank Performance Report has been the de facto source of information for financial services professionals and a staple at business schools and accreditation programs offered by the principal trade associations,” he states. “However, because the source of the UBPR quarterlies is from the individual Call Reports, sorting through it to gain satisfactory insights has a steep learning curve. Quite frankly, wading through the voluminous data is intimidating to bankers who lack an extensive background in financial analysis.” That’s where Qaravan comes in.
Harnessing Call Report Data is the Challenge
The exhaustive nature of reporting data make it of particular importance to investors, from institutional to individual investors, family offices stock brokers, to mutual funds and portfolio managers. They too find that teasing out the risk and performance analysis necessary for the benchmarking which goes into buy, hold or sell decisions on equity positions to be time consuming and fraught with inefficiencies. The massive volume of the wide-ranging and highly detailed data within Call Reports often make analysis of a specific entity an intensive, time-consuming process prone to human error and potential misinterpretation of the metrics under examination.
Although frustratingly labor-intensive and unwieldy, this has been the process for several decades for performing queries and analyzing the performance ratios of U.S.-based financial institutions. To industry stakeholders, including those like Mr. O’Leary, with memories which date back to pre-electronic data management, the need for tools that more effectively and accurately evaluating and interpreting call reports data has been obvious and long overdue.
The opportunity to cross the chasm from manually manipulated analysis to flexible, dynamic control of the call report data finally arrived in 2014 with the launch of the Qaravan performance analytics offerings. The web-based platform leverages Call Report and UBPR data with a dashboard toolset which empowers users to perform peer group analysis, queries, and a wide spectrum of custom reporting with output displayed visually in charts and tables. Banking executives, industry analysts and the investment community say it has streamlined the time-overwhelming nature of interpreting Call Reports and UBPR while making it easier to condense the resulting data into structural, geographic, and financial filter options all of which is updated automatically when new data is available.
“For the last dozen or so years the Uniform Bank Performance Report has been the centerpiece of a continuing education course I’ve led for bankers on understanding and managing bank profitability,” he comments. “The advent of Qaravan greatly assists users of UBPR information by making it possible to gain a deeper understanding of the data within the Call Reports and present the output in a comprehensible way. ”
As part of OTC Markets Group’s ongoing efforts to further enhance the disclosure, financial and operating information it provides its issuers, Qaravan now includes Call Report data on the OTC Markets Group website. All of the current and historical Call Reports can be looked up by symbol/name of the financial institution and clicking on the Disclosure Section of each bank security traded on the OTCQB, OTCQX and Pink markets. See a list of OTCQX Banks here: https://www.otcmarkets.com/index/.OTCQXBK