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Data & Analytics

03:01 PM
Art Gillis
Art Gillis

The Sell Side of CIF

When the bank marketing division hugs the bank IT division, then I'll believe the engagement is more than just sweet nothings.

For years I have felt like the lone crusader for the joining of IT with Marketing to solve any bank's revenue depletion problem. (And if you're asking, "What revenue-depletion problem?" just ask Brian Moynihan at BofA.) This crusader who doesn't have a marketing bone in his body. Then on April 11, 2011, my hardcopy issue of InformationWeek arrived in the mail, letting me know at least that the USPS hasn't gone out of business yet. That night in my cozy leather/walnut/private study at home I was released from the proverbial closet. IT-based marketing is finally getting closer to reality.

Even though the InformationWeek article had a lot of good evidence pointing to the IT and Marketing combo, it clearly was lopsided for giant organizations. Just look at the players mentioned -- IBM, Oracle, Kodak, Teradata, SAS, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Royal Bank of Canada and Accenture.

I'm coming from the other direction, where 90 percent of the U.S. financial institutions live. They don't have the sophistication or the money to afford highfalutin' analytics and marketing software. Their customer corral is within reach if they would just begin to understand it. And present customers is where it all starts. I don't believe any bank is going to steal customers wholesale-style from its competitors. The name of the game is "get to know your customers and work to keep them."

So far, I haven't said anything about solving the problem. However, I hope I have convinced you to side-step the overly complex solutions designed for giant organizations. The idea of marketing in a bank setting started back in the '70s. It was called Central Information File (CIF). Some people called it Customer Information File. It was a good start but it didn't go far enough. It was like an accounting system that contained basic demographic data and static account balances. CRM was a flop. When I asked the vendors why it never ranked as a hot app in Automation in Banking, here's what they said. It took too much HR effort to implement. It wasn't a plug-in technology. It couldn't pass the ROI test. It required a culture transformation which the banks resisted.

What banking needs today are sales people, not marketing people. But sales people without technology tools are like plumbers without a wrench. My personal experiences include the four largest banks, all of which have a large presence in Dallas and all of them have called me. Their sales pitches are dumb. It's as if they all attended a Joe Girard seminar and they're reading from a script. "Mr. Jones is going to be in your area tomorrow and he'd like to drop in and see you." Wow! I can hardly wait.

Name any other profession where the performer enters the arena without doing his/her homework, rehearsal, practice, research or internship. Contrary to popular belief, it's not a numbers game. Make one value call and make it count. The value is in what I call the sell side of CIF. It even includes a "value score" just to show the comparison to the all mighty credit score. Credit score is a warning indicator to reject a loan applicant. Value score is a number that says go get this guy, he's worth it. Why is it every banker has heard of credit score but no banker has heard of value score? Because bankers are not salesmen and their technology is still mostly an accounting and compliance system.

I still think InformationWeek's Doug Henschen wrote a mind-opener article. If the big guys could dumb-down their IT solutions to fit the typical $250 million bank, then I believe IT vendors like FIS, Fiserv, Jack Henry, Harland Financial Solutions, Temenos and Oracle Financial Services Software could package them into scalable, affordable and usable offerings.

Remember, not a marketing or sales bone in my body. Just clean thinking.

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