When you think about the Risk Management Association, chances are that one of the first things that comes to mind is Annual Statement Studies. Amazingly, bankers and finance professionals have relied on RMA for the industry benchmarking data we publish in Annual Statement Studies for over 100 years!
For the uninitiated, you may be asking, “What is it that these professionals are seeking?” Annually, RMA compiles 700-800 industry reports that include balance sheet and income statement line items, along with 20 classical financial ratios compiled from nearly 240,000 financial statements of RMA members’ borrowers. Using this information for benchmarking, RMA members can make better credit and lending decisions.
Next, I bet you are wondering, “What goes into creating the studies?” In my role as the manager of Statement Studies, I work with RMA members to encourage their annual participation in submitting statements, license the data to software companies, manage the end-to-end product production and deployment, develop marketing and content campaigns (like this blog), and much more.
Now, follow along as I dive into the process of how Statement Studies comes to life year after year following its annual November 1st launch.
Priming the RMA Submission Utility for the Coming Year
As I stated earlier, all Statement Studies data is voluntarily shared with RMA by our members, more specifically US-based financial institutions. But how does the data go from a borrower’s financial statements to the member bank to RMA’s database?
From a technology standpoint, the data comes from the member’s spreading software into what we call the RMA submission utility, which is built onto the backend of the program. We partner with several software companies, such as Moody’s, Baker Hill, Finastra, FIS, Wolters Kluwer, and others, to build the RMA submission utility into their spreading tools in a way that meets our data specifications for generating a valid submission file. Basic statement submission criteria include:
- Valid 6-digit NAICS industry code
- Only companies up to $250 million asset size
- Valid US-zip code
- Balance sheet and income statement must balance
- Sales cannot equal zero
- Statement must fall within a set date range for the campaign
This stage occurs in December and January of each Statement Studies cycle, as we work with the vendors to make any changes to the submission utility, such as updating the data specifications.
Working with Members to Support and Maximize Statement Submissions
In February and March, I share all the updated submission manuals, instructions, timelines, and finally issue goals to our members. These goals are issued in order to ensure that the members are submitting as many statements as possible, and we always aim for 10% increase from the prior year’s submission.
In early April, I announce the opening of the Submission Campaign, allowing members to begin sending submission files in for processing. Members can typically submit their encrypted files through the end of July, with RMA staff on standby for support.
Once I receive a submission file, I process it through our software, which does an initial check of the data, only accepting those statements that pass the initial criteria stated earlier. From there, I return a summary of their submission file to the member, which includes the number of statements submitted, the number of statements rejected, the reason for their rejection, and the number of statements that have been accepted.
Compiling & Testing the Data and Gearing for Launch
Once the submission period closes in late July, we compile all the accepted statements. For the next several weeks, the data undergoes multiple testing processes. Once it passes all testing phases, we begin drafting the data into its final deliverable formats.
During September, we design new book covers, edit the front material providing definitions of ratios, proof the book pages several times with the publisher, send members their submission reward letters, begin editing marketing materials, and prep for launch. Once RMA is in possession of the final deliverables in October, we create data packages and deliver data securely to software vendors.
Bringing It All Together
The Statement Studies annual calendar at a glance
The official launch of Statement Studies is scheduled for November 1st every year, at which point we begin shipping the new book, automatically update the eStatement Studies section of the RMAU website, and allow vendors to begin releasing the data through their platforms.
During launch month, we are on standby to support the members and users of the data. It is also at this time that I am drafting plans for campaigning the next submissions period and engaging new RMA members to join our efforts. Then we start the whole cycle over again!
In conclusion, it is amazing to see year-in and year-out what goes into each release of Statement Studies data, and we couldn’t do it without the amazing support of our members. It is our members who are the true stars in creating the most seasoned, successful, and trusted collection of benchmarking data in the history of financial services. Because of our members and all that goes into each edition of Annual Statement Studies, the industry benchmarks stand out and are an incredible resource for financial professionals across the world!
As Manager, Business Solutions, Shea Scarpa Gardner is responsible for the daily promotion, production, distribution, and support of the Annual Statement Studies product. Prior to managing RMA’s flagship product, Shea worked in RMA’s Finance Department as an Accounts Receivable Representative. Shea holds a B.S. in Finance from the Rutgers School of Business.