SunTrust Banks aims to slash its monthly printing and mailing costs of $100,000 with new technology offering its customers access to complex trust and custody account information via the Internet.
The $103.7 billion bank produces up to 40,000 statements each month. "These are not bank deposit statements," said Preston Hays, first vice president at SunTrust, Atlanta. "These are trust accounting statements that can go anywhere from six to several hundred pages. If you can imagine having 150 boxes full of paper statements on the first business day of the month, the likelihood that very many of those are going to actually get into the mail that day is pretty slim."
At the same time, many of SunTrust's institutional customers are under increasing pressure to get that information as quickly as possible. "We're breaking our necks to provide them with the paper as fast as we can, but it doesn't take much of a glitch to cause a delay," said Hays.
To hold onto existing customers and get in the door with new ones, the Bank needed to make a change. It found the solution in the Xact software suite from an existing supplier, Dallas-based Systemware. "We've been using Systemware's archive system for years, and when they presented us with this new technology, it was right up our alley," said Hays.
The bank purchased Systemware's Xptr, Xnet and Xtracts modules. Even with a needed software upgrade, the new system was implemented in just over three months.
The new software allows the bank to take the same data that was put Electronically into an archive system and push it right back out to the Web. Before it reaches the customer's desktop, it's converted to a PDF file. Statements are created and stored in AFP format on a powerful IBM OS390 Platform.
"The system was built on an existing infrastructure that SunTrust already had in place," said Frankie Basso, vice president of marketing at Systemware. Because of that, little work was needed on the back end. "We didn't have to go back to the application layer at all. The majority of the work went into the Web layer design. Once the design work was done, Xact serves up the PDF from the original statement dynamically."
Customers can now retrieve and save detailed trust and custody account statements electronically. The customer logs on with a customer ID and PIN, selects an account, and data is presented instantaneously. Once they have that view within their browser, they can print to a local printer, store onto their network or distribute it. In addition to seeing the current month's statement, they can access statement history for monthly comparison.
Only about 500 customers have access to the online statements, but that Will grow considerably in the weeks to come, according to Hays. "This was Primarily targeted to our institutional customers. We will be following that up with our personal customers whose statements are not nearly as complex, though there are many more of them."
The bank is also working to provide information in more user-friendly format. It's now in the process of building indexes into the PDF statements, allowing customers to simply tab from one section to another. Longer term, the bank hopes to provide a summary page on the Web, pulling out data deemed most important to customers.
Another option the bank is exploring is delivering statements on CD-ROM, Which can be accomplished using the same technology. "Some of our customers are telling us they don't really want the paper," said Hays. "Our Institutional customers may get an annual statement of 1,000 pages or more. If we can deliver that to them on a CD, we've solved their storage problem."
While the staggered implementation has slowed down payback of the system, Hays hopes to achieve return in a little over a year. In the meantime, the bank hasn't reduced much of its printing and mailing costs. "In most cases we're still sending the paper, but we're hoping that customers will begin to wean off of the paper and say this is sufficient," said Hays.
Even so, having satisfied customers is the number one concern, and Hays Expects the electronic statements to open doors to more potential clients. "We're finding a lot of customers want to see that capability before they would even consider hiring us," he said. "If we can provide it to them, it makes our life a little easier too."
Deliver complex trust and custody account information via the Internet.
"These are not bank deposit statements. These are trust accounting statements that can go anywhere from six to several hundred pages." - Preston Hays,first vice president