Mercantile Bancorp Inc. of Quincy, Ill., said it has improved its internal financial reporting and strengthened its management controls by using an online service to extract information from the data processing systems of its bank units.

Ted T. Awerkamp, the $1.4 billion-asset Mercantile's president and chief executive, said in an interview last week that his company, which operates nine charters in four states, previously relied on people to pull data from the banks' general ledgers and format it. "It just seemed to take forever."

But Mercantile began using an online analytical service from Banker's Dashboard LLC of Atlanta after acquiring the $147 million-asset Royal Palm Bancorp Inc. of Naples, Fla., in November for $42.7 million, he said. "We get yesterday's postings by 8 o'clock our time."

The service extracts data from the general ledger and core accounting systems of Mercantile's banks, Mr. Awerkamp said, providing summary information on net interest margins, interest spreads, and other factors and letting executives drill down to the level of individual product lines, even specific loans - or loan officers. "You can see who's carrying what kind of loads and who's getting what kinds of yields."

Mercantile plans to begin using additional features of the service, such as its budgeting tool, which is expected to be running by yearend, he said.

Christopher J. Bledsoe, the president and chief executive of Banker's Dashboard, said it has 160 banking clients and designed its service to reflect the way bankers evaluate information. "Instead of spending their time populating spreadsheets, they can spend their time analyzing variances."

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