Kohl Analytics recently did a study of our repeat financial institution clients Return on Assets (ROA) compared to industry averages. We found that those clients enjoyed nearly an 80% higher ROA than the industry average in 2019. The first quarter of 2020 saw everyone spend more on operations and increased loan loss provisions (LLP) yet Kohl clients still experienced a 65% better ROA. Speaking of LLP, that 65% better ROA covered the industry average increase in LLP twice over.
Interestingly, in the first quarter of 2020, our clients saw an average ROA right at the 2019 industry average while the industry saw a 40% decline from 2019. Yes, it took something as powerful as COVID-19 just to bring our clients down to just average. Simply, the financial strength of Kohl’s clients show they are weathering the current COVID-19 storm far better than the industry as a whole.
What makes these results even more impressive for our credit union clients is at the last few CUNA Finance Conferences, Kohl clients were recognized leaders in giving back to their membership. Our clients have consistently captured nearly all the “Member Give Back” awards categories at those conferences. Clearly, Kohl clients are not only significantly stronger financially than average they simultaneously offer their credit union membership more value.
What Makes Kohl Unique
The strength of our process is the ability to identify the appropriate assignment of a financial institution’s largest cost quickly and accurately. For example, employees make up close to 80% of all operational costs, yet most organizations do a very poor job of analyzing and understanding exactly what employees really do. Kohl’s approach is to directly gather operational employee data to understand how much time they spend on their specific job activities from a set of close to 100 of the most common loan and deposit operational activities.
This enables us to assign employee and other costs to product categories in a highly accurate and detailed manner. Our studies have proven that assigning people costs using other drivers like loan balances or counts lead to very large inaccuracies. For example, if the people costs for one product are wrong then they are wrong for all products because every products received the wrong portion of the people cost pie. The bottom line is that if 1/2 of costs are assigned incorrectly then the entire profitability solution results are highly questionable.
Kohl also assigns other direct revenues and costs in a highly precise manner. When possible, Kohl extracts transaction data directly from the core and other systems, maps those individual transactions to the product categories and then aggregates the number of transactions and amounts to the appropriate category. This approach is far superior to the time consuming and less accurate process of creating allocations rules to dis-aggregate the GL into the proper product categories.
The end-result is a unique data set which is detailed, accurate, and traceable back to its source. In addition, it enables the comparison of how well employees are performing against other financial institutions in our database.
So, how do Kohl’s clients achieve this? Well, they have the right information to make critical decisions. In any business there are certain tenants that one must understand to be successful. First, you must understand where value is created, maintained, and destroyed inside and outside the organization. The second is to understand that strategy drives operational processes which result in financial consequences. This may sound very simple, but most organizations are not good at it. Let’s take a look at this piece by piece.
How Clients Benefit
Kohl’s clients are strategically better. They have Kohl quantify (not simply assume) where value is created, just maintained, or completely destroyed around the company. This enables the executive teams to focus with confidence on enhancing the good and minimizing the bad. In lesser companies, executives assume they know these things and are regularly shocked when they find out they were wrong. Our clients are much faster to modify or eliminate poor products and better at avoiding poor markets.
Our clients are operationally better. Obviously, if your strategy is better your operations will be focused on things that create value, but it’s deeper than that.
In financial institutions, the largest cost segment is the operational non-interest expense (NII). Not surprisingly, people plus the infrastructure in place to help them do their jobs can be 80% of NII. So, if you don’t quantify where your people are spending their time and the associated cost you are under analyzing and most likely getting wrong the lion’s share of the operational cost equation. Kohl clients know not only how much time their operational employees are spending on close to 100 of the most common operational activities, they have comparative benchmarks from Kohl to quantify if they are doing better or worse than their peers. This enables them to have a laser focus on changing operational processes that really make a difference and avoiding changes that create no value.
Our clients are financially better, they were 80% better in 2019. Clearly, if you get the strategic and operational processes right your finances should be better. Our clients also understand the cost to deliver their products, so their pricing is better. However, most organizations do not know the cost to deliver their products. How can they if they don’t quantify people costs correctly which means that maybe 80% of the cost to deliver products is wrong.
It should be clear that Kohl’s clients look at the organization from a wholistic, coordinated perspective. They are outstanding at knowing where value is created or destroyed and taking the appropriate action. They understand that “years of experience” in running a business will only get you so far. They combine that with Kohl’s deep, trusted, quantified information to make timely and informed decisions that systematically creates value way beyond the industry average.
Our Technology Advantage
Kohl Analytics Group doesn’t just provide numbers, we provide easy to understand analysis. Our advanced automation and smart algorithms apply facets of machine learning and artificial intelligence to not only generate 300 pages of performance detail, but also preform root cause analysis. The root cause analysis results in 10-15 page Summary of Findings with easily understandable English explanations of where (and why) there are performance issues. This means you don’t have to dig the issues out the 300 page document. The Summary of Findings report is great for presenting to the Board of Directors, examiners, ALCO, auditors etc.
In addition, with the Multidimensional Value Analysis, Kohl provides granular, instrument-by-instrument line item P&L data in Excel or CSV format. This enables clients to "slice and dice" the results right on their desktop using the reporting tool of their choice. It even enables users to customize the standard Kohl reports plus add data and dimensions to truly personalize the results.
Our Cost Advantage
Because of our highly automated solution, we can provide a level of sophisticated analytics for much less than the annual cost of owning an in-house system. Our cost is often less than just the support cost of commercial profitability software and far less when considering staff time.