DISCLAIMER: I don't believe I had ever heard of Bremer Bank, and I know I never talked to anyone there. Fiserv doesn't know about this blog unless they read it today. ITI never sends me news about their conquests even though their sub, Precision Computer Systems, sends the nicest notices-"Look what we sold this quarter." CheckFree wasn't big on news as an independent company, so now Fiserv solved that problem. And, folks, I was having root canal work on August 12th when the press release about Bremer arrived in my e-mail hopper. I went to work that day but the last thing I wanted to do was read press releases. So this is my way of saying I don't do testimonials, not even for money.I coulda saved 1,469 words in last week's blog by writing about Bremer Bank instead. They proved many of the things I was saying about why banks don't switch vendors like they used to 30 years ago. Here's what I learned from the press release, a couple of days after I wrote the August 18th blog.
• Bremer fits into the top tier of U.S. banks at $7.5 billion in assets. That's the group I said was dug in like a 300-year-old oak tree. Adding CheckFree's Small Business solution doesn't sound like Bremer is gearing up for a big RFP exercise. The Fiserv roots are spreading.
• Bremer brought in ITI's core system in 1986. Once again, an almost perfect fit in that more banks were switching to new core systems in 1984 than any other year. Maybe Bremer management hired a consultant who took a little longer than expected to deliver the recommendation.
• Bremer is described by Fiserv as a user of "a wide variety of software and services." I said that about all the top tech vendors. They provide everything, so there's no need to shop outside the "Wal-Marts" of tech services.
• Bremer uses IPS-Sendero for Asset/Liability Management and other brainy chores. Why did they wait until 1998? In 1985, Dow Jones-Irwin published my book, Microcomputers in Financial Institutions. In that book, I listed 21 PC-based software companies that provided must-have solutions for any bank. IPS was one; Sendero was another; and there were two others adding up to only four survivors today. Thanks to Fiserv's sixth-sense genius for acquiring the companies banks would buy stuff from, the Wal-Mart idea was proven again by Bremer. They trusted their primary provider to do the integrating and leave the using to the bankers.
• Bremer signed on with Corillian consumer online banking after CheckFree had acquired Corillian. Maybe they didn't like what Fiserv had to offer. But now that CheckFree and Corillian are part of the Fiserv family, one wonders what kind of forward thinking genius the Bremer guys possessed to make a best-of-breed choice while protecting the 11th commandment of "thou shalt stick with one vendor."
• When Fiserv announced the CheckFree acquisition on 8/2/07, I enjoyed seeing my prediction come true. "Every tail needs a good dog to wag it." But every surgery requires a long recovery period, and I was saying it would be five years before Fiserv sees real financial benefit from this mucho costly acquisition. I might have been wrong because David J. Whitaker, VP of eCommerce at Bremer, used the word "integrating" and based on everything else this bank has done, I'm confident they know the true meaning of integrating.
• I may be preaching to the choir about Bremer. The respected bank tech research and advisory firm, Celent, had already recognized Bremer as a "model bank based on its strong retail online banking platform." Why stop there? It appears Bremer does everything right.
• Oh, one other thing I discovered about Bremer. You can't buy the stock. The employees and the Otto Bremer Foundation own it, and if you detect any signs of greed here, it's for the benefit of all the charitable recipients. That's the one piece that doesn't fit my perfect model for any bank.