The New Year has traditionally been a time for setting new goals or resolving to make changes in your personal or work life. If, by any chance, one of your goals was to become more proficient at using Visible Equity, then you’ll be happy to see this article!
My name is McKay Daines, and I am a data analyst here at Visible Equity. I thought it would be helpful for me to share the top ten tips I have for making your data uploading and utilization as painless and effective as possible. If you are a current client of Visible Equity's, please contact our client success team with any unique data questions.
#1: Reconcile your data before uploading to Visible Equity
It’s not uncommon for problems in your reports to originate from problems with the source file that weren’t caught before uploading to Visible Equity. Taking a few minutes before uploading your extract to confirm that your unpaid balance totals, recovery totals, etc. are what you expect them to be can save you time and effort in the future. One common error I see is that Excel will occasionally save loan IDs in scientific notation, rendering them useless and requiring a re-upload of data. Additionally, ensuring that your upload contains the data you expect it to will expedite the problem-resolution process. Having confidence in your data is crucial to using Visible Equity effectively, and reconciling your data is perhaps the most important action you can take to achieve that standard.
#2: Keep your column headers the same whenever possible
Visible Equity’s software allows for files that match to previously mapped uploads to be mapped and implemented automatically. However, that process is halted when there are any differences in column headers. This allows manual review of new files but can hinder data implementation when the user isn’t expecting a delay. Avoid any column headers that might change over time (e.g. ones that include a date), and keep an eye open for spelling changes—any difference at all from a previous month’s loan file will prevent automatic implementation.
#3: Submit a ticket when new fields are added to a file
In reference to the previous tip, files with new header columns are manually reviewed; however, it is at times difficult for us to discern which new columns should be mapped and how the data should be mapped. A great habit to have is submitting a ticket, telling your data analyst what new columns a file has, and determining which, if any, you want included as a custom field.
#4: Use a charge-off indicator field—don’t change the loan type code
Some clients have charge-offs marked in their data by changing a loan’s type code to a charge-off code, such as 99 or something similar. A more effective method would be to use a loan status column, indicating if a loan is active, charged-off, or matured. If your type code automatically changes within your core, then make sure to include an original type code field.
#5: Avoid formatting changes—leading zeros, decimal points, etc
Occasionally I see clients who have a sudden spike in LTV ratios, or who have an unexplainable boost in their overall portfolio balances. Often these errors can be traced to a formatting change in the file that causes changes in original loan amounts, interest rates, or loan IDs. Whenever possible, avoid having leading zeros in your initial file, or make sure to communicate to your data analyst if you know formatting changes are expected/likely.
#6: Upload charge-off and recovery data separately
While it is totally doable to have charge-off and recovery data included in your main loans file, separating that data into a unique data file makes the reconciliation process much more efficient. Just make sure that you don’t have multiple recoveries or charge-offs for the same loan recorded on the same date!
#7: Don’t hesitate to ask for custom fields or report customization
One of Visible Equity’s greatest features, and something we are very proud of, is the customization option in our data visualization and report building tools. If there’s a data point you would like to use, it’s most likely available—all you need to do is ask! Submit a ticket outlining which fields in your upload you’d like to track, and your data analyst can easily add them for you and show you how to access them when creating reports.
#8: Use our SFTP connection to upload batches of files
At the bottom of our “Upload a File” page is a list of information your IT department will need in order to set up your SFTP connection with Visible Equity. It may seem difficult, but once complete it allows for dozens of files to be uploaded at once—saving you lots of time (depending on how many files you upload on a monthly basis).
#9: Include details when you identify an issue with your data or reports
The more details your data analyst has about your issue, the quicker he will be able to solve your problem. A great example would be, “I’m seeing an imbalance of $23,450 in my New Auto balance for this month. An example Loan ID that is missing is 12345.” Knowing what you expect to see and where the problem is located is a great help to us in identifying and solving any errors you run into.
#10: Log in and be familiar with your portfolio
The sooner errors are caught and identified, the quicker and easier they can be corrected. Most importantly, however, we want you to love using Visible Equity. We really believe in the value of our software. And we are more than happy to answer any questions you might have or give you training on various aspects of the system.
I hope that these tips prove useful to you and that you feel more confident using VE moving into 2019. As always, if you have any questions for your portfolio or would like to be more capable in building custom reports, just reach out to your data analyst, implementation manager, or client success manager, and they would love to give you training or help prepare your portfolio analysis.
Happy New Year,