Whenever I eat chicken, I react like Pavlov's dog and relate to the years 1980 to 1985. It was then that I ate more rubber chicken than any other time in my life. That's when I was on the speaker circuit conducting seminars for all kinds of banking organizations. My audiences included community bankers.Two innovations influenced this increased attention to technology: (1) the establishment of in-house processing capabilities brought about by the mini (aka mid-range) computer, and (2) the invention of the PC.
Bankers wanted to learn about these new tech opportunities to improve their operations. But the academic stuff I created for the curriculum put them to sleep. They wanted to know where to buy the best products and solutions. And they were very blunt about it. I was saving all the vendor stuff for the second and third days.
Put 30 bankers in a closed-door presentation room, where no one knows the guy sitting next to him, no bosses are present, vendors aren't present, and you'll get absolute candor. Here's an example.
A banker from Indiana was very hard to please. No matter what I said about any bank tech vendor, he pooh-poohed them. I mentioned ADP as the #1 payroll processing company because payroll is an excellent application to send out. He didn't like ADP. I mentioned ITI as probably, at the time, the most integrated core system, and he came back with a negative remark about their "our way or no way" attitude. I mentioned Metavante and he complained about their high pricing practices. He called Fiserv the patchwork quilt because he felt Fiserv acquired companies, but just sewed them together without integrating their products. I finally asked him how he felt about the American flag, Chevrolets, motherhood and apple pie. "Is there anything you like that you can share with us, sir?"
That's the kind of candor that occurred at these seminars.
Fast forward to 2010. I learned one very important lesson from these seminars-tell bankers what to buy, how much to spend for it, where to buy it, and how to use it. That's what they wanted and that's where I focused my delivery.
In 1985 Dow Jones-Irwin published my first book, "Microcomputers in Financial Institutions." It was mostly about where to buy 21 software solutions that delivered strong payback. Eight are still popular, albeit under the names of SunGard, Fiserv, Open Solutions and FIS. For the past 25 years I have been publishing Automation in Banking with a strong focus on where to shop for all manner of technologies. I think the Association for Financial Technology would be an excellent host to sponsor a dinner (sans the rubber chicken) for 71 bank tech companies. Gate crashers need not attend. Like AiB2010 it should be by invitation only. And sorry Peoria, but AFT goes to very nice places for their meetings.
The 71 bank tech companies in AiB2010 deliver a complete suite of solutions that every bank can use:
Core Processing and Software 26 Asset/Liability Management & Profitability 7 Platform Automation Systems 14 Check Imaging Systems 18 Mainframe-Based Software & Services 10 Internet Banking 15 EFT & Credit Card Services 17 Document Imaging 9 Voice Response (Telephone Banking) 8 Mortgage-Related Solutions 10 Securities Industry & Insurance Solutions 3 CRM Solutions 11 Cash Management & Treasury Solutions 15 Database Applications 8 Compliance, Security & Fraud Control 18 Electronic Bill Presentment and Payments 19 Trust Accounting 3 Offshore Core Companies 7 Risk Management 16 Business Intelligence 12 Remote Deposit/Merchant Capture 13 Mobile Banking 11 Miscellaneous Apps 37 Bank Tech Research Companies 9
I don't believe it's a stretch to say that if there's one positive thing to say about the banking industry these days, it's the availability of good tech solutions supplied by providers that sustain a healthy business environment and keep their customers in the safety zone of operational performance. These providers get paid well for their services, but they also deserve a dinner for going a few degrees beyond the profit motive.