Northwestern Bank, NA

Northwestern Bank, NA

Northwestern Bank, NA in Dilworth, MN became a Suntell customer in 2001. In 2006, the bank hired Cheryl Strand, Senior Vice President - Loan Operations, and she realized that they had a piece of software that was being under-utilized and she set to work on implementing the product.

Bank continues to find ways to implement software capabilities over time.


Northwestern Bank, NA in Dilworth, MN became a Suntell customer in 2001.  In 2006, the bank hired Cheryl Strand, Senior Vice President – Loan Operations, and she realized that they had a piece of software that was being under-utilized and she set to work on implementing the product.  Strand began to attend Suntell conferences to learn the capabilities of the Suntell products and then would return to the bank to put into practice what she had learned.  If she needed clarification on product functionality, she would contact Suntell’s Customer Support.  “By using Suntell, we were able to streamline our processes and go from a department of 6 people to a department of 2 people,” Strand says.

The first main area of implementation was Documentation Tracking.  Tickler information was manually transferred over from the core accounting system into Suntell.  The bank continues to find ways to expand and improve their use of Documentation Tracking.  Over a year ago, they began tracking Real Estate Tax Payments, which Strand says has been a huge timesaver.

In 2008, the bank purchased and implemented Suntell Document Imaging (SDI).  Strand learned about SDI at a conference.  The bank did their due diligence and looked at several products, and “hands down” Suntell made the most sense as an imaging solution.  Selecting a specific date, the bank used a “touch it once” approach to imaging: if the file was touched for any reason, it was scanned.  The entire loan portfolio has now been scanned as of last spring.  Strand notes that management was supportive and enforced that images were used instead of paper, which contributed to the success of the project.

About a year ago, the bank began using Loan Presentation to replace WebEquity.  Examiners were telling them that the output from WebEquity contained too much information and was lacking in analysis.  Strand configured customized reports within Suntell to accommodate a presentation format that the loan officers were used to.  The bank also purchased the Deposit Download so that deposit account information could be imported from the core system on a nightly basis, allowing the deposit accounts to be included on loan committee presentations and be indexed for scanning.

Loan Portfolio Management

Documentation Tracking:  Now Suntell is used to generate exception reports for officers, who meet with a Loan Specialist to discuss outstanding items.  Exception letters are generated on the same day each month, and the bank feels that they have a much better handle on their Documentation Tracking portfolio.

Suntell Document Imaging:  The bank has received compliments from examiners on their SDI folder structure and organization.  It has also cut down on expenses for exams.  A quarterly compliance audit team used to be on-site for a full week, and is now in the bank for 2.5 days.  Loan auditors are located in the Twin Cities, which saves the bank money each time, since they no longer travel on site to the bank.

Loan Presentation:  Because of everything being centrally located in a single database, once loan committee has finished, the Loan Specialist can have the documents ready before the loan officers return to their respective branches.  All of the information is already input through Loan Presentation and is then interfaced with LaserPro for documents.

Reports:  Collections expenses and recoveries are tracked and reports are printed out for examiners.  Other reports are also used internally for loan portfolio management and monthly board meetings.

Strand notes that her interactions with the staff at Suntell are “awesome” and the support reps are always helpful and knowledgeable.  “I am never treated like I have green hair when I call in and ask a question,” Strand says.  She also highly recommends the user conferences, since they include so many different people.  The users at the bank that work with the software on a daily basis think that Suntell is “the bee’s knees!”

About the Bank

Northwestern Bank, NA is a fourth generation family owned and operated community bank established in 1915. They have four locations, serving the communities they are in, as well as those surrounding them.

The bank wants to make a difference in the lives of the customers and communities they serve.  Their goal is to build relationships, not make deals.  Every Wednesday is Round Up Wednesday.  They round their customers’ deposits up to the nearest dollar, all day long, at every location.

By using Suntell, their officers can work with their customers from any location.  By doing so, they can provide service that other banks their size may not be able to. That is what building relationships is all about!

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How does a loan origination system work?

An LOS is defined as a system that automates and manages the end-to-end steps in the loan process – from the application, through underwriting, approval, documentation, pricing, funding, and administration.

What is the difference between loan origination and underwriting?

A loan officer is someone who works for a bank or credit union or other financial institution and offers loans to borrowers, while an underwriter is someone who analyzes documents from potential borrowers to determine if they are eligible for a loan.

What are the benefits of loan origination software?

By now, lenders are well versed in the benefits of a digital loan origination system, such as: Providing borrowers with easy, streamlined, and digital applications. Providing bankers with automating spreading and financial analysis tools.