The Customer Relations team for Federal Reserve Financial Services is on the front lines of engaging with nearly 10,000 financial institutions across the country. Meet Susan Bivens, one of this team’s many “faces of the Fed.”
How did you come to work for the Federal Reserve?
OK, I’m going to “date” myself. Twenty-six years ago, I answered an ad in a Memphis newspaper for a job in the accounting department at the St. Louis Fed, even though I’m not an accountant and wasn’t located in St. Louis – although I did have banking experience. During the interview, we agreed I was a better fit for what was called sales at the time.
I so love what I do. I enjoy not knowing how my day will turn out because customers email or call me with questions or issues, anything from how to add a new cash office to whether an institution needs to comply with the Security and Resiliency Assurance Program. If I can’t help you with something, it’s my job to find someone else at the Fed who can.
What do you do as a senior relationship manager and ACH specialist on the Customer Relations Inside Sales team for Federal Reserve Financial Services?
My “inside” colleagues and I spend most of our time talking to customers from our remote offices, with the occasional trip to an industry conference. That compares to my relationship manager colleagues in the field who spend more time traveling to meet with customers in person.
My customers are small and medium-size local and regional institutions that may use the Fed for everything in payments or a single service, such as check adjustments. I am their first point of contact, and I’ll engage with them to make sure they know what’s new with the Fed, gather feedback on new payment services and answer questions.
What does it mean to be an ACH specialist?
I earned and continue to maintain two certifications from Nacha as an accredited ACH professional (Off-site), or AAP, and accredited payments risk professional (Off-site), or APRP. That means I’m not only an electronic payments specialist, but I also had to prove my comprehensive knowledge of ACH payments risk management strategies and mitigation techniques. However, I can help with any payments product or service offered by the Fed!
Given your special expertise, what’s new with FedACH® Services?
Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about our new FedPayments® Insights Service. The service allows customers to gain valuable business insights to help inform their operational, risk management and strategic decision-making by providing a more complete view of all an institution’s payment data that settled through FedACH, including government and commercial transactions.
For those who may not be aware, this service is accessed through the FedLine Web® and FedLine Advantage® Solutions and complements FedPayments Reporter for FedACH Services. Insights allows you to pull the data you want and Reporter automatically provides data once you have set up the service for your institution.
Susan Bivens enjoys hiking in the North Carolina state parks with her husband, Bob. Here, they are atop Chimney Rock enjoying the view of Lake Lure.
Beyond your passion for this work, where are you based and what do you do for fun?
My husband and I moved to the Asheville area of North Carolina in late 2019 because we love its natural beauty and scenery. We live in the Blue Ridge section of the Appalachian Mountains. People like me who grew up in flat lands – Indiana – cannot believe the incredible waterfalls. We enjoy taking friends and family members to enjoy great restaurants and see interesting architecture in Asheville, including the Vanderbilts’ Biltmore estate, America’s largest home with more than four acres of floor space. Asheville is a great place for me to work remotely.
In addition to experiencing the immediate area, we do a lot of weekend trips to non-touristy places elsewhere in North Carolina, such as Saluda and Little Switzerland. When we’re not doing that or visiting family in other parts of the country, I enjoy cooking new recipes and traditional family favorites, such as pot roast with carrots, onions and potatoes; Crock Pot Mongolian beef; bacon cheeseburger pie and my granddaughter’s favorite – chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese casserole. Oh – and lots of desserts because my husband has a major sweet tooth. I’m also a big fan of historical fiction, such as Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and anything by James Michener.
To find and engage with your institution’s relationship manager, visit the Contact page.