Zions Triples Its Audit Throughput While Cutting Turntimes in Half with ACES


Zions Bancorporation, N.A. is one of the nation's premier financial services companies with annual net revenue of $2.9 billion in 2021 and more than $90 billion of total assets. Zions operates under local management teams and distinct brands in 11 western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. The Bank is a consistent recipient of national and state-wide customer survey awards in small and middle-market banking, as well as a leader in public finance advisory services and Small Business Administration lending, ranking as the tenth largest provider in the U.S. of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program loans. In addition, Zions is included in the S&P 500 and NASDAQ Financial 100 indices. Investor information and links to local banking brands can be accessed at https://zionsbancorporation.com/.


After bringing on industry veteran Heather Morris as its Vice President of Quality Control and Document Custody Manager, Zions Bancorporation (Zions) sought to enhance the efficiency of its quality control (QC) operations with an automated QC auditing platform, starting with servicing QC.


Having a successful history with ACES across four organizations dating back to 2009, Morris knew ACES was the perfect solution to power Zions’ in-house QC operations By choosing ACES Quality Management & Control® software for its growing QC audit needs, Zions has benefitted from the following features:

  • ACES CONNECT™ – Collaborate securely to monitor key data and metrics, review audit activity, remediate defects and manage corrective actions
  • ACES REPORTING – Leverage standard or customized templates to produce executive-level reports in minutes v. days and gain real-time insights to make more informed business decisions
  • ACES MANAGED QUESTIONNAIRES – ACES builds, manages, and pre-populates standard questionnaires with dynamic questions to increase loan review speed while ensuring compliance
  • ACES CERTIFIED ADMINISTRATOR PROGRAM – Formal recognition of proficiency in the ACES platform designed to equip Administrators with best practices, processes, workflows, and troubleshooting expertise


Since implementing ACES, Zions has:

  • Cut audit completion time in half while handling more than triple the volume of loans;
  • Condensed reporting turn times from 120 days to 60 days or less;
  • Employed experts in their fields without having to hire more FTE's to support high level volume;
  • Stayed at forefront of change by leveraging ACES questionnaires and real-time reporting.

Prior to ACES, Zions’ servicing QC team was processing around 200 loans with an audit time of 60 days. With ACES, they managed to handle approximately 700 loans across 24 audits in just 18 days, thus cutting the audit completion time in half while handling more than triple the volume of loans. ACES also significantly expedited the audit creation and executive reporting process from 120 days to 60 days or less.

With the impressive results of ACES, word of its efficacy began to spread to other departments within Zions’ Enterprise Mortgage Lending (EML) group. Colleagues approached Morris seeking help in solving their departmental issues. Subsequently, Morris also oversaw the implementation of two more instances of ACES, one for the Quality Assurance Department and another for the Mortgage Oversight Department. As a result, the bank now has four instances of ACES operational within the EML division.

Triple the Volume in the Half the Time

With ACES, Zions has the capability to create audits, import data to form a sample population, run the audit and generate reports efficiently. What used to take a week or two can now be accomplished within two days or less. Moreover, ACES has led to an impressive 85% increase in audit throughput. The real-time reporting to the operations teams not only helps mitigate risk but also prevents potential risks.

QC servicing can now handle 1,200 loans in 36 audits with just three auditors in a span of 18 days, with reporting completed within 60 days. Similarly, QC originations can manage 500 loans in nine audits, again with three auditors, within the same 18-day period and report back to the executive line within 60 days.

“ACES affords me the ability to employ experts in their fields because I don't have to employ additional people to get the volume done,” Morris states, “We consistently achieve this level of performance month over month for both departments, a total of six auditors for both teams for the last several years.”

Abundant Customizations

“As a manager, my favorite thing about ACES is that my internal team can make changes on a dime and in real time. If you take the time to figure out what you're truly trying to solve for and then implement ACES to solve for that, it will answer every problem you have,” she added.

Zions uses many different configurations within ACES and its audits because it constantly audits across different points in the loan process and across departments. For example, its Mortgage Oversight Department runs data analytic-based audits, compared to question-answer based like the QC department. This vast configuration of ACES has been pivotal to Zions’ success.

“My favorite feature of ACES as a manager is that I can rely on my internal team to go in and make the changes that I need in real-time, and what that allows me to do is to stay completely cutting edge when regulations change,” Morris explains.

Reporting At the Drop of a Hat

ACES customized reports not only keep Zions in good standing with Fannie Mae but also provides an overview, with reports custom-tailored to the way Zions conducts business.

“This is just another feature of ACES where the user configuration ability is off the charts,” Morris says. “Not only does ACES reporting keep me in the good graces of Fannie Mae, but because those reports were custom tailored to the way that we do business, they are a much more valuable tool to my operational lines because findings are reported back, segmented out in the same manner of our business. The fact that you can swap things out like that to make it applicable to your business is unlike any other vendor.”

In addition, Zions leverages ACES to conduct its quarterly MERS audits across the entire line of business and uses ACES to house its MERS reconciliation reports.

Compliance Expertise Around Every Corner

Compliance is always changing, and without diligent effort, it's easy for organizations to fall behind. With ACES, Zions is always ahead of the curve.

“ACES enables my department and I to be a real compliance tool for the operational groups. We're able to stay at the forefront of changes as they happen,” Morris explains. “I also get frequent requests to run targeted audits on a particular product line or employee. ACES is the only vendor that makes it easy to maintain the high level of volume we do.”

ACES Questionnaires have aided Zions in maintaining its readiness when things change. Whether the changes are from regulators or internally, Zions’ auditors are well prepared and can edit, add or remove questions as needed to ensure they are always auditing to the latest and most relevant standards.

“My auditors are SMEs in the areas that they review. They understand how to use the ACES system to make changes in real time. This results in huge time savings for us, and it's how we can turn our volume in 18 days,” she adds. “The functionality of the ACES platform is the only way we achieve what we do with limited staff, and it helps keep our overhead low. When the industry takes a turn, I don't have to cut my numbers because we're already conservative. ACES affords me the ability to employ experts in their fields because I don't have to employ additional people to get the volume done.”

Certification Program

To ensure its continued success with ACES, Zions made the investment to have two staff members complete the Certified ACES Administrators program and become in-house experts on all things ACES.

“We have two Certified ACES Administrators in our organization, and they’re able to help other departments that have ACES instances when they need assistance,” Morris states. “It’s nice to have the ability to create an internal resource rather than go outside the organization to get assistance. Admins are able to help other departments configure as they work inside ACES.”

With the collaboration across areas within the EML division, Zions is able to naturally further its education and expand their use cases of ACES.

“It helps us learn new things within the system too, because they're running their instances much differently than we run them in QC,” Morris adds.

Responsive Support

ACES support takes pride in their work, offering around-the-clock hands-on assistance. The results speak for themselves.

“Every time we've had to go to ACES support or to our account rep, everything has been completely beyond my expectation. The ACES team really treats us as if our success is their success. That's a really great feeling you don’t get from other vendors. I work with a lot of vendors in my role, and ACES is by far at the top of my list,” Morris says. “I would highly recommend ACES and do recommend ACES all the time. ACES is a fundamental reason why my quality control department is a successful and valuable part of our enterprise mortgage lending operations.”

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