The Endorsement Process

Vetting IBAT’s Endorsed Services

by Brad Tidwell

With IBAT Services celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, it is important to pause and reflect upon the process that IBAT employs in the endorsement of various providers. It has been several years since we highlighted information about the process with our membership, so I hope you will find this review timely and beneficial.
The IBAT Endorsed Service Provider (ESP) designation is assigned by the association’s board following a thorough and extensive review process. As an IBAT Services board member, I have learned a great deal about the ultimate process for vetting potentioal association endorsements. They don’t just happen and they’re not for sale!
The Services board has a healthy respect for due diligence and the directors are not hesitant to ask the hard questions, questions you would ask if the supplier were across the desk soliciting your bank’s business. Directors are elected for two three-year terms, which provides continuity in building a team that embraces making the right choices to benefit IBAT members. They are willing to invest in resources, such as the third-party expertise of outside consultants, inspections of the candidates’ corporate offices to develop communication avenues with senior management and ongoing reviews of current compliance and the company’s financial status at both application and renewal time. Services board members assign task forces of executive bank officers who are responsible for similar activities in their banks to review applications. They bring the rigor and risk assessment that regula-tors expect for third-party-vendor due diligence to their review. Most important, every evaluation begins with the question, “What unique benefit will IBAT members receive through this endorsement that would not otherwise be available to them?” These negotiations have saved IBAT members more than $50 million dollars since IBAT Services was formed in 1984.
The board believes strongly that the parties must be committed to the relationship. 
There are stipulations that require thoughtful consideration from the providers—adherence to an annual financial commitment of marketing support and minimal guarantee of revenue from the sale of the provider’s endorsed product. There is no shortage of candidates for IBAT’s portfolio of endorsements.
The board believes that focusing on core products and services for endorsement is most beneficial—i.e., touching the majority of IBAT members—using the purchasing power of community banks across Texas for negotiating the IBAT-member-only benefit. The board retains IBAT’s general counsel, Karen Neeley, to review the contracts that members would be offered by the endorsed providers. She monitors the due diligence related to regulatory guidelines and advises the providers when legislation might affect their products or services. When needed, IBAT staff and outside accountants review financials for the potential endorsements.
IBAT’s Services team is tireless, consistent and focused, taking tremendous pride in the integrity of the due diligence process. They work with each ESP to design unique programs to match the company’s strategic marketing. I trust the process and appreciate the volunteers who have steadfastly maintained the high standards of each endorsement process.
I strongly encourage you to give extra consideration to every IBAT-endorsed proposal. Please refer to the Products and Services page for IBAT’s current endorsements and contact them for additional information. You will be pleased with their responsiveness—and their focus on your specific needs! 
Brad Tidwell, board chair of IBAT Services, is president and CEO of Henderson-based VeraBank.