Ask Hoot-E: How to Educate ACH Originators

Amy Donaghue

By: Hoot-E with help from Kristel Goins, AAP, Director, Marketing & Communications

As an ODFI, you are responsible for the activities of your ACH Originators and Third-Party Senders, including all Entries originated through your ODFI (ACH Rules Section 2.1). To mitigate risk, ODFIs need to ensure they have sound agreements in place, monitor Originator activity and establish ACH origination limits (Section 2.2.3). And, while Originator education isn’t explicitly called out in the ACH Rules, it plays a HUGE factor in mitigating that risk. Since your financial institution is on the hook for any ACH Rules violations made by your clients, it’s important to teach them the rules and what happens when they are broken (IE. the hefty fines Nacha will charge you as the ODFI passed along to them – if you have that covered in your agreement). It’s the "wise" thing to do! 🦉

BUT, you’re probably thinking… the ACH Rules are overwhelming for financial institution staff! How can I possibly get my clients to understand and abide by the Rules? Not to mention that I am already busy with everything else that managing ACH Originator relationships requires! Luckily, there are several ways you can help your Originators understand their responsibilities without breaking much of a sweat. Our payments experts address this same question all the time, and we’re always looking for new ways to help you help your Originators maintain compliance with the ACH Rules. Here are some of the resources we have available for you to integrate into your Originator education program:

  • ACH Rules
    Keeping the ACH Rules at your Originators’ fingertips is a great way to make sure they have access to the information they need for on-the-spot decision making. You can provide a paper copy of the Rules to each Originator or opt for the App or Online version. We also have an annual pre-print special each fall to help you save on bulk orders. When you provide copies to your Originators, consider teaching them how to use the Rules and find the areas they will need to reference based on their activity and the SEC codes they utilize. We also have ACH Quick Reference Cards for Corporate Users to help Originators find quick information on ACH Returns, Dishonored Returns, Standard Entry Class (SEC) codes, Transaction codes and Notifications of Change (NOC).
  • Payments Insider
    This semi-annual e-newsletter is designed to inform businesses of all sizes of recent payment systems developments and is distributed in the months of April and October. Our team meets and cues in our Cash & Treasury Management Committee comprised of EPCOR members like you to determine what corporate payments users need to know about current Rules changes and other payments challenges. Most articles are written by our payments experts and all articles are written from the corporate user’s perspective.
  • Annual ACH Rules Update for Corporate Users
    Each year, our training team puts together this handy document that outlines ONLY the ACH Rules changes that pertain to corporate users in the coming year. We break those changes down in easy-to-understand language and explain their impact on corporate users – from their perspective. This update is part of our April edition of Payments Insider each year.
  • Did You Know… Informational Videos
    Many of the topics covered in our Did You Know… informational videos are perfect for corporate users and we invite you to share them forward. You can even host them on your website if you would like. Recent topics include the third Same Day ACH window, new Web debit standards, money mules and pandemic scams, tips for avoiding bad checks and more! Each video is short and sweet and to the point to make the message easy to understand and remember.
  • Flex Training
    If you would like to provide a virtual or in-person training session for your Originators, we can help. Our Flex Training is customized to fit the needs of your organization and is more affordable than you might think. We will work with you to determine the content and work around your schedule. Some of our members invite their clients to a training each year to address ACH Rules changes and current fraud trends. We can also help with more specific issues if you have an Originator that is struggling, want to address a specific service you offer or speak to the procedures you expect your clients to follow.

  • Corporate User Webpage
    I saved the best for last! If you haven’t checked out our new Corporate User Webpage, you won’t want to wait much longer. The idea for this page and everything on it came from members of our Cash & Treasury Management Committee comprised of EPCOR members just like you! The page includes links and information for all the corporate user resources listed in this article and more, including:
    • Upcoming ACH Rules Changes
    • Payments Insider Newsletter for Corporate Users (Includes Annual ACH Rules Update for Corporate Users)
    • Did You Know… Short Informational Videos
    • Check Fraud Spotting Tool
    • Nacha Operations Bulletins
    • Tips for Handling NOCs
    • Frequently Asked Corporate User Questions & Answers
    • Quick Reference Guides and Cards
    • Audit and Risk Assessment Workbooks
    • Corporate User Education

As you are planning, remember Originator education shouldn’t stop at onboarding (although your welcome kit is a great place to include some of these resources). It’s important to touch base with your Originators on a regular basis. ACH Rules changes, staff turnover and challenges that only pop up on occasion require regular refreshers. So, it’s best to keep the ACH Rules and your expectations for your Originators top of mind throughout the year. Remind your clients what is available to them often and consider integrating some of these resources into the touch points you already have in place. For example, if your loan department reaches out to clients quarterly, ask them to pass along a copy of Payments Insider and a link to the Corporate User Webpage. Every time you audit a client or re-evaluate exposure limits is a great time to pass some education along. Is your Originator adding a new service? Time for some education! And, if you have a newsletter for corporate clients, don’t let it go out the door without some educational reminders. You might also consider adding these resources to your online banking platform or website.

Educate, educate, educate! And remember, we are here to help! Just give our Member Support team a hoot at 800.500.0100, memserve@epcor.org or via chat at epcor.org.

Want to learn more? Join us on May 13 for our How to Educate Your Originators webinar. Register now!