To compete with larger regional and national banks in the Bangor area, Bangor Savings Bank's cash management department needed to adapt to the online revolution. "The world of cash management is constantly changing, particularly in the e-commerce area," says Erin Hurley, a vice president and manager of commercial services at the bank. "We saw a trend toward Internet-based systems, and we wanted to maintain our competitive edge."
So, in 2001, Bangor Savings implemented Web Cash Manager Suite version 5.5 from Politzer & Haney (P&H), a Newton, Mass.-based maker of Web-based corporate cash management software. The bank - which has more than $1.6 billion in assets and 45 locations throughout Maine - upgraded the software several times in the last three years and now uses version 7.0. It has dubbed its cash management system Internet Cash Manager (iCM).
Previously, the bank had utilized a PC-based product that allowed clients to view accounts and make transfers. It relied on a second system to handle Automated Clearing House processing. But neither system allowed customers to do things online such as stop payments and see intra-day activity.
The bank began its search for new technology in 1999. Bank officials visited several suppliers to examine their products. "We really got into, 'Show me how this works,'" Hurley recalls. "Some of these systems are very complex. We needed to make sure that it would be intuitive for our customers."
The bank also examined the vendors themselves, says Jeffrey Jeter, the bank's senior vice president. "We looked at the financial stability of the companies," he relates. "We wanted to make sure we picked a safe and sound organization that will be there a number of years." Jeter declines to name the vendors.
To Each, His Own
In December 2000, bank officials selected P&H's Web Cash Manager Suite. "The system is so scalable," Hurley says. "We have very small businesses as customers, and many large, sophisticated businesses as customers." The bank can customize the modular system, she says, so smaller clients can use a simpler version and larger clients can get all the "bells and whistles."
Bangor Savings implemented the new solution in early 2001. First, the bank conducted internal testing. Then it beta-tested for approximately 90 days with about a half-dozen existing clients, former users of the PC-based product. Only minor issues surfaced during testing, Hurley says. "The biggest thing we wanted to do was have a more tailored look to the reports," she notes. "So we spent a lot of time on the aesthetics."
Now, customers can use the online system to view account balances and cleared checks, and for ACH origination and wire transfers. "And we have clients ... that use the direct-debit feature to allow customers to pay their bills [online]," Hurley adds.
Internet Cash Manager was an instant hit with clients, Hurley notes. "People like the flexibility of an Internet-based system," she says. Eighty-five percent of the bank's cash-management customers now use the solution. Still, "There are some folks who do not have a need, or do not perceive that they have a need, to monitor their cash that closely."
At press time, the bank had plans to add several new features to iCM, including a positive-pay/full-reconciliation module; a special reports feature so clients can see their account analysis statements online and get information about things such as ACH returns; and a module that allows for international wire transfers. "These are not new services for us," Hurley says. "But, in the past, they were done through paper or electronic files sent through another mechanism, such as e-mail or diskette."
Institution: Bangor Savings Bank (Bangor, Maine).
Assets: More than $1.6 billion.
Business Challenge: Offer clients online cash-management services.
Solution: Politzer & Haney's (Newton, Mass.) Web Cash Manager Suite.