MARCH 17, 2016
FMS Quick Poll: Technology in the Boardroom
By Financial Managers Society

Community institutions have seen firsthand just how rapidly the industry has moved toward technology-based paperless solutions and practices over the past several years. In light of this, perhaps the results of our latest FMS Quick Poll on technology in the boardroom will come as no surprise.

Asked whether their boards of directors receive hard copies of board meeting materials, 78% of the nearly 200 respondents said they have moved either entirely or partially away from print, and 81% noted that their entire board package is distributed electronically at this point (while another 11% plan to make the switch to all-electronic in 2016). Further, 67% of poll participants said they are now supplying their board members with tablets or other devices to be used specifically for board-related meetings.

At $686-million SussexBank in Rockaway, N.J., CFO Steven Fusco says the board is already on its second technology solution for meeting materials (Diligent Boardbooks) after five years using another platform. While board members were still often printing out their packages under the previous system, Fusco says the upgrade to Diligent has pushed almost everything exclusively to paperless, and the board seems not only very happy but even more invested in the proceedings.

“The meetings definitely run more smoothly, since board members are no longer shuffling through papers,” Fusco says. “Board members find the technology easy to use, and they’re often more prepared and more engaged in the meetings. There is a much better flow that makes everyone more efficient.”

Despite that prospect of greater efficiency, some FMS member institutions have yet to make the transition to electronic board materials, or are simply doing so at a more measured pace. With a mixed board comprised of both newer members who like to use their tablets during meetings and older holdouts who still prefer paper at $396-million Phoenixville Federal Bank & Trust in Phoenixville, Penn., EVP and CFO John Carrozza so far hasn’t seen a compelling reason to move beyond the partial plan (financials are electronic) currently in place.

“At this point, the cost of the software outweighs the benefits since we still have older board members who simply like the paper,” he says. “Still, I think over the next two to three years we will transition to all-electronic board materials.”

Indeed, while the trends were fairly consistent across both banks and credit unions, there was perhaps not surprisingly some divergence to be found across asset sizes, likely due in part to the costs associated with a new technology outlay. For example, while 84% of respondents above $1 billion in assets indicated that they are supplying their board members with tablets, just 50% of those at or below the $250 million mark are doing likewise.

Thank you to all of those FMS members who participated in this Quick Poll.