Great Florida Bank Excels at IT Risk Management

Great Florida Bank accomplishes what few de novo banks do while experiencing tremendous growth in its first year in existence. By partnering with Solutions@MBA, an affiliate of Morrison, Brown, Argiz, and Farra, they were able to identify regulatory issues and take swift and effective corrective action and thus the bank was very pleased with the results of its first IT regulatory exam.

Organization Overview

In June 2004, Great Florida Bank launched in the South Florida region with the establishment of its corporate headquarters located in Miami Lakes, FL. Great Florida Bank is one of the fastest growing community banks in the United States, with an unprecedented expansion over the past nine month period from $60 million in initial capital. As of December 31, 2005, the bank had grown to over $1 Billion in total assets and ten branches. COO Masood Ghomeshi says assets by year-end will continue to grow rapidly, as well as the expansion of new branches. Great Florida Bank is committed to providing ideas and solutions to its customers’ financial needs by offering personalized, convenient and state-of-the-art banking services, products, operations and delivery in a relaxed environment. Great Florida Bank’s services and products are designed to meet the life-styles and life stages of today’s customer.

Situation

Facing most of the problems that de novo banks face, Great Florida Bank also had to deal with Risk Management in a rapidly expanding institution where the rules of the game are constantly changing. Masood Ghomeshi, who has an extensive background in Product Development and IT Management in the Healthcare industry, was brought in to manage the reins of information technology and operations. One of his greatest challenges has been to select the best fit technologies for the current and anticipated needs.

Besides surrounding himself with top notch IT professionals with banking experience, Mr. Ghomeshi partnered with external experts in the field of IT, Banking, and Risk Management. Very few bankers spend a significant amount of time considering, planning for, and managing risks; therefore, this approach by Mr. Ghomeshi is an attribute to his foresight. He requested assistance to identify those areas where management needed to allocate the necessary resources in IT.

Solution

Solutions@MBA, an affiliate of Morrison, Brown, Argiz and Farra, (Solutions) was engaged to perform the Bank’s first ever risk assessment. The deliverables of this risk assessment allowed management to understand its risk exposures. Solutions assisted the Bank in identifying its IT assets and determining the type of customer information that was either processed, stored, transported by that asset. Once this was accomplished, they were able to identify any potential threats that could have an effect on each asset and what the actual likelihood and impact of the threat would be. This process provided an overall risk factor for each asset that took into consideration the strength of the existing internal controls.

Solutions’ consultants worked together with management to implement action plans that follow industry best practices to address the gaps identified during the risk assessments, while continuing to maintain efficient and effective operations of the Bank’s technological functions. For example, based on a decision tree, a best practice was implemented to perform due diligence for all vendors that involved various areas of the Bank.

Benefits

Masood Ghomeshi said, “The experience and partnership that Great Florida Bank shared with Solutions allowed the Bank to put consistent and repeatable procedures in place to identify and mitigate risk. The understanding about issues such as Top-Down IT Governance and standardization of IT policies and procedures gained from Solutions were extremely helpful in preparing us for our first regulatory exam.” Great Florida Bank was very pleased with the results of its first IT regulatory exam.

Originally published in January 2006. Reprinted with permission.

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