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11:23 AM
Kevin Kenyon
Kevin Kenyon
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Florida Bank Lures Customers With Web-Based System

Amid the rolling hills and soaring oaks of Florida's panhandle region, a modest-sized regional bank is proving that you don't necessarily need a large sales force or IT staff to compete with the 800-pound gorillas.

At a time when many local and regional banks continue to lose share to larger competitors, Capital City Bank has been able to defy the odds by growing its online cash management services business. With the help of Banklink's product suite, the bank recently lured 70 new business accounts to its BusinessOnLine product for Internet-based cash management services, augmenting a base of 146 corporate customers that were already using a similar PC-based version.

Even more impressive, however, Tallahassee-based Capital City has been able to grow its business with one salesperson and a total cash management staff of three. In addition, the vast majority of new accounts were siphoned off from competitors.

Banklink has helped the bank remain competitive, according to Carol Brannen, assistant vice president at $1.8 billion Capital City.

"It's basically allowed us to keep up with the big boys while staying one step ahead of the smaller banks,' Brannen said. "We've also been able to maintain and even grow our business with a very small staff in place."

While it's helped the bank in many ways, Banklink's greatest strengths are its flexibility and technical support, Brannen noted. The bank has been a Banklink customer for four years, using its Windows-based Series 2000 for its BusinessOnLine product suite. The majority of Capital City's146 customers, she added, require a personal computer-only product.

"They come to us because our competitors, the big national banks, only offer Web-based solutions," said Brannen. "We say to them, 'Tell us what you want and we'll come up with a solution.' They love our ability to adapt to their needs."

Technical support also weighed heavily in Banklink's favor. "We issued an RFP a while ago where we looked at other vendors. But none offered tech support. We didn't want to hire a tech person. It's too difficult to train and keep them."

Capital City's small staff typically fields the first call from customers for tech support. If further help is needed, the financial institution calls in Banklink.

"We try to answer as many questions as we can, but with PCs there are communications issues we will never know enough about, so we direct those to Banklink," Brannen said.

When Capital City acquired new offices in Georgia last fall (it has a total of 56 offices in Florida, Georgia and Alabama), Banklink's Web-based solution suddenly became very attractive, Brannen explained.

"About one-and-a-half months before we were to convert the new offices to our system, we discovered their cash management products were 100 percent Internet-based," she said. "We had to match that. Banklink got the banks' five clients up and running and tested, all within a 30-day period."

Since then, Capital City has been offering Banklink to other customers throughout its region. Ninety percent of the bank's online customers are small, locally-owned businesses, but large corporations are using the product as well. "The online solution has turned into our biggest success story with Banklink," Brannen said.

Capital City prices its BusinessOnLine products variably to accommodate customer account needs and volume levels. "We're actively going after more Web-based accounts," said Brannen. "The maintenance is so much easier."

The task of selling BusinessOnLine has been made easier by Banklink, Brannen said.

"When I go out and meet with a prospective client and they ask if I can do this or that, I don't have to tell them, 'I don't know.'

I've worked with Banklink products for four years. I know all they can do and it's easy to sell something when you have total confidence in it."

Capital City is not alone in its desire to stick with tried-and-true products and vendors.

A recent study by Meridien Research revealed that financial institutions of all sizes are willing to invest in next-generation Internet banking software and systems, but want these products to come from retail banking and cash management vendors with which they already have an established relationship.

"Based on our research, we believe that most banks will move up to new platforms provided by incumbent providers, add on to existing systems, and, at the bottom of the market, pledge allegiance to core processors or to those vendors that are most successful in working with core processors", said Maggie Scarborough, senior analyst at Meridien Research, in a report titled, Closing the Gap: Small Banking Business Solutions.


Fast Facts

INSTITUTION: Capital City Bank
ASSETS: $1.8 billion
Offer online cash management services on a par with larger competitors without increased overhead.
SOLUTION: Banklink
KEY QUOTE: "It's basically allowed us to keep up with the big boys while staying one step ahead of the smaller banks. We've also been able to maintain and even grow our business with a very small staff in place."

- Carol Brannen, assistant VP

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