Educational Testing Service (ETS), the $1.3 billion company known for its SAT and GRE tests, had a problem: 20% of the checks sent in with applications were bouncing, and ETS was finding out too late to stop applicants from taking the tests and getting their results. So treasurer Jay W. Basehore and assistant treasurer Dawn Budd called in five top cash management banks to find a solution. Four proposed end-to-end solutions that didn't work. "They tried to fit ETS into a packaged solution, but none of them could tie a check back to our application," Budd says. The fifth--Mellon Bank, now part of Bank of New York Mellon--came up with a plan that was highly customized and manually intensive, but it worked.
Part of the problem was that the variety of application forms couldn't be read automatically. Worse yet, the name on the application was often a student's and the check signer was often a parent--two different names. "We couldn't type in a name and cross-reference it with an application," Budd says.