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By Jaidyn Crookston | April 26, 2022 | 8 Minute Read

How to Spend Less Time Preparing for Your CRA Exam

How to Spend Less Time Preparing for Your CRA Exam

Traditionally, preparing for a CRA exam has been a long, frustrating process. There’s so much to do, and CRA Officers often don’t have the support they need to do it all. Instead of spending week upon endless week preparing for your CRA exam, you’d much rather spend it helping others and enhancing your program. 


Here’s how to spend less time preparing for your exam, so you can spend more time serving the community you love. 


Don’t try to do everything alone

Preparing for your exam is really a team effort, but many CRA Officers try to do everything alone. With everything you have to do—mine for loans, track all CRA data, build reports, work with community organizations, etc—this is too high a task. Something that many CRA Officers don’t realize is that you don’t have to do this work alone. 


In fact, with some dedication and proper training, you can take your CRA program to each level of the bank. Some departments that are well-suited to help you prepare for your exam are small business, mortgage loans, commercial lenders, marketing, retail, and investment/treasury departments. 


Getting these departments involved throughout the exam period is a great way to enhance your CRA program and stay well prepared for your exam. If you’ve trained these departments to send CD loans, services, and investments to you throughout the exam period, you won’t have to track them down or worry about whether you can show examiners that you’ve met the credit needs of your community. You’ll have the evidence all ready to go. 


To get the most out of these partnerships and keep your program top of mind, you should aim to get in front of each department at least three times per year. You might give a formal CRA presentation where you explain your mission and show them how they can help, and then you might send an email reminder and a CRA report highlighting what their department has done. 


To learn how to get the help you need from other departments, check out this article.  


Form a CRA committee or ambassadors program

Having a CRA committee or ambassadors program can empower your entire team to be part of the CRA process. There are likely many leaders in your institution who have deep relationships in the community and who love to serve, but haven’t had the opportunity to contribute to the CRA program and expand their reach. 


By creating a CRA committee or ambassadors program, you can give these advocates a way to support and enhance your CRA program while still doing the work they love. These team members can keep an eye open for CRA-eligible loans, services, and investments and can introduce you to key community members who will help move your initiatives forward. 


If you listen to these committee members throughout your exam period, you’ll likely have plenty of CRA opportunities and resources when it’s time to prepare for your exam. And you’ll always have someone to talk to when you need program ideas or need some direction (or need to vent about that bank board member who just won’t agree with your idea). 


Seacoast Bank has built a very successful CRA Ambassadors program that has served to strengthen the CRA team and build a network of highly trained community volunteers. To learn more about creating a CRA Ambassadors program and Seacoast Bank’s story, read this article


Hire an intern

Chances are that you’re part of a small CRA team—maybe even a team of only one or two people. If this is the case, then no matter how many bank departments you utilize or ambassadors you have, you still may not have enough time to go through every CD loan and investment to determine whether or not they’re CRA eligible. 


A great solution to this problem is hiring an intern. Interns cost very little and can help take a lot of projects off your plate, including loan mining, loan documentation, and performing a self-assessment. You can hire an intern a few months before your exam, or you can hire someone for a longer period of time. You’ll find yourself getting a lot done with an extra set of hands. 


Don’t wait until the last minute

One of the worst things you can do while preparing for a CRA exam is wait until the last minute to get all your data and reports ready. You should start preparing for your next exam as soon as your last exam ends, even if your next exam is two or three years away. After a much-needed vacation, of course. 


Preparing for your exam at the beginning of your exam period might mean performing a self-assessment to determine what your program should focus on, reviewing examiner feedback, identifying ways to improve your program, and making sure you have a solid data tracking system in place to make your life a lot easier. 


Throughout your exam period, try to stay on top of loans, services, and investments (this would be another great task for an intern). You should make sure that any CRA-eligible loan, service, or investment you find has all the proper data and documentation. It’s much easier to get this information now rather than down the road when you’re scrambling to prepare for your exam. 


If you take the time throughout your exam period to find data and document everything your program does, you’ll be a lot less stressed when your exam comes around. Your preparation might look as simple as compiling all the data you already have and making some reports. This will be much easier than going back to the beginning of your exam period and trying to find the data you need, especially if that data is kept in various spreadsheets and binders. (Where did you put that binder, anyway?)  



Use Kadince to track and manage all your CRA data

Instead of making your life difficult by tracking CRA data in spreadsheets and binders, you should use Kadince. Kadince is community involvement software for financial institutions, and makes it easy to track, manage, and report all your CRA data. 


With Kadince, preparing for an exam is as simple as looking at the data you’ve spent the exam period compiling and creating some reports. You can even give your examiner read-only access to Kadince so you don’t have to export anything. Preparing for a CRA exam has never been easier.


And because all your data is in one place and is easy to read, examiners will have fewer questions, so you can get through the exam quicker without having to track down more information. 


To learn more about how Kadince makes exam prep easy, schedule a personalized demo. Once you’ve seen how easy it is to track, manage, and report ALL your CRA data with Kadince, you’ll look at those spreadsheets and binders and wonder what on earth you were thinking. Because, really, what are you thinking?  



*This article has been peer-reviewed by Linda Ezuka, CRA expert and owner of CRA Today.

None of Kadince, Inc., its affiliates, or its respective employees, directors, officers, and agents (collectively, “Kadince”) are responsible or liable for any content or information incorporated herein. Read full disclosure.

Jaidyn Crookston | Content Manager, Kadince

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