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Deena Amato-McCoy
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Content Evolution

Web-Based Content Management Takes Hold As Banks Push More Documents Online.

Document management, an umbrella term for an agglomeration of imaging and workflow solutions, has helped the financial services industry automate signature cards, general ledger files, loan and insurance applications, and other paper records. But as the Web emerges as a cost-effective medium for transmitting documents, traditional document management is slowly giving way to content management.

Web-based content management systems could be a $3 billion to $5 billion market by 2003, estimates show. Many banks are already deploying online systems to manage their documents. The development is akin to the growth of online banking, experts say.

"As we move into the digital age, we are seeing the Internet play the same role in content management applications," said Don Rhodes, eStrategies policy manager at the American Bankers Association.

At United California Bank, Los Angeles, content management solutions enable users in some 20 departments to update and maintain corporate Web pages containing lending rates, marketing promotions and credit information.

"We needed to manage content both internally and for the public," said Mona Chui, vice president of emerging technology at $11 billion United California Bank, which was formed by the merger of Sanwa Bank California and Tokai Bank of California.

United California is using the Participant Server from content management provider Eprise, Framingham, Mass., to push information from each department out to the Web for internal and external viewing, without the intervention of the IT department.

"We were wasting resources by having business units send us information using Excel spreadsheets-and sometimes the wrong versions of spreadsheets-and then having IT cut and paste different documents, manuals and updates on the Web site throughout the day," Chui explained. "We want that information to stay in the hands of the business units. By replacing the spreadsheets with templates, we can keep the process simple and information timely."

For example, whenever United California's corporate communication department wanted to post news releases on the external Web site, it had to e-mail a document to IT, which formatted the document, checked back with questions or last minute updates, and then posted the release for final approval. By giving each department access to its own file postings, United California is now reporting at least 50% savings.

The next step is to add a personalization feature, enabling users to have data presented the way they want.


Some banks, like Chicago-based ABN AMRO, are moving from older NT-based document management into Web-based content management.

Frustrated by a lack of remote file access by its thick-client imaging and workflow system, ABN AMRO's mortgage group has begun investigating the use of Web-based clients and electronic documents.

The group scans between 300,000 and 500,000 paper documents daily, then stores them off-site, where they are eventually destroyed. The group also works with third-party vendors that handle documents that aren't imaged in-house.

"If we had to fall back to paper today, the building's hallways are not wide enough to move the boxes," said Janet Duke, first vice president at ABN AMRO Services Company. "We cannot function on paper today at the volumes we do and the people we service."

The scanned documents are passed through the workflow system, which assigns them to specific individuals. "There is no way to sort paper that timely using physical files," Duke said. "Electronic files let us achieve economy of scale and skills based on efficient processing."

Still, that's just a fraction of what could be achieved using Web-based content management.

"We could expand remote access to our customers seeking appraisal results," Duke explained. "One of our frequent requests from customers is to see their appraisals. With a Web-enabled system, that information could potentially be available to customers online assuming the security issues can be worked out." No specific decision to provide this service has been made, Duke said.

A committee has been formed to study how to standardize document management solutions between divisions. "Within the next year, we want to find compatible software, vendors and interchanges that will let our systems work together," Duke said.

At Rothschild, the Swiss banking giant, a drive to expand services across its worldwide locations led it to store documents on company intranets, including that of the corporate finance group in New York. "As we keep growing, we need to collaborate through a platform that will let multiple geographic locations search, maintain and retain electronic documents," said Dr. Jerry Kaiser, director of systems at Rothschild North America. "Previously, people shared documents on our network. It was a very inconsistent approach when different departments tried to collaborate."

Often data wasn't updated in a timely fashion. And with analysts constantly being reassigned to ongoing projects, locating specific reports or other documents was a chore.

"Teams could change, or the creator would be on vacation and we would have to recreate these documents from scratch," said Kaiser.

To transform its static corporate Web site into an interactive destination, Rothschild installed WorkSite, a content management solution from iManage, San Mateo, Calif.

A suite of content management, collaboration and workflow applications, iManage has converted Rothschild's intranet into a centralized workspace for associates to collaborate and access business information. Pages are created within departments using templates, and can be populated and updated as necessary.

In January, Rothschild began expanding iManage to its North American realty and asset management divisions.


Although content management systems are growing in popularity, several financial institutions continue to support and utilize document management systems in conjunction with the new technology. The reason is simple: traditional document management solutions can produce up to 80% cost savings based on the reduction of paper and productivity increases, according to Richard Medina, principal analyst, at Doculabs, a Chicago consulting firm.

Among other things, document management helps keep information from leaving the building.

"The corporate memory is only as long as the person creating the document is employed," said Louis Anon, business process reengineering consultant at Exeter Consulting, New York. "Document management becomes the best way to retain a corporate memory of what occurred, independent of the people who did it."

A document's lifecycle begins when it's imaged via a high-speed scanner and archived in a centralized database, allowing it to be retrieved electronically. Workflow applications route documents to designated individuals.

Flagstar Bank, Troy, Mich., relies on traditional document management for loan servicing and underwriting, and customer service. "We still deal with a lot of paper, but our push is to go entirely paperless," said Jason Dufner, manager of imaging applications.

Flagstar has worked to eliminate the need for paper faxes to be routed and handed off to loan specialists. Instead, it uses a fax system that doesn't print documents, but instead transmits TIFF images to loan representatives.

Flagstar installed its first imaging system in 1996. A workflow application was installed in 1999. This year, the bank upgraded its workflow and retrieval systems with solutions from FileNET, Costa Mesa, Calif. The systems run on the bank's IBM AIX servers and data is stored in an Oracle database. "Users were not able to view documents quick enough due to heavy traffic at peak times," Dufner explained. Among the factors the bank considered in choosing FileNET were scalability, cost, development and customization, and IT support.

Flagstar is not alone in its desire to provide multiple departments the same view of a document. Indeed, the need to provide easy, enterprise-wide access to documents is persistent across all banks.

In 1998, when Arvest Group, a $4 billion bank holding company based in Bentonville, Ark., decided to integrate imaging into its teller network, it turned to Optika, a Colorado Springs, Colo., provider of imaging, workflow and collaboration software. Optika's Acorde suite has enabled Arvest tellers to electronically access the company's entire signature card file from their desktops.

Previously, tellers would verify customer information against hard copies and faded faxed copies of paper signature cards stored in multiple file cabinets. Tellers would have to wade through thousands of cards, and customers could wait up to 15 minutes for personal information to be verified before completing their transaction.

Now, when a teller keys in an account number, Arvest's core processing system retrieves the card image from Optika's database and presents it on the teller's screen within 30 seconds.

"Our tellers have simultaneous and instantaneous access to files that were otherwise locked up in a cabinet or, at times, at a distant branch," said Jon Pascoe, imaging manager at Arvest. "Further, the technology eliminates the loss of documents that occurs when they are removed from the file cabinets and not replaced."

Another successful use of document technology at Arvest has been loan underwriting. "By adding workflow automation to the loan underwriting process, we will be able to route specific brokerage documents to the correct department," Pascoe said.

Arvest scans loan applications at 300 dpi and stores images in its Web-enabled database. After a loan application is created electronically by branch personnel, customers electronically sign it using a digital signature pad, and the electronic signature is "affixed" to the document in the database. The workflow module transmits the completed document for final review and approval.

Arvest, which is testing the technology in one location, plans to roll out the system enterprise-wide during 2002.


Arvest's use of digital signatures illustrates how content management is being combined with authentication tools such as digital certificates, which establish a user's credentials when transacting business online.

Digital certificates contain a serial number, the certificate holder's name and public key information, the certification authority's (CA) name and information, and the digital signature of the CA, so that a recipient can verify that the certificate is real. Public keys, which are stored on browsers, smart cards, or USB (Universal Serial Bus) tokens, are mobile, and can be used in any PC or laptop equipped with card readers.

Digital certificates gained attention when President Clinton used a smart card and interface software to digitally sign the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act in June 2000.

The American Bankers Association is using digital certificate technology to securely share and transmit documents electronically between departments and banking members, instead of relying on unencrypted e-mail, couriers or postal services.

"Digital certificates keep documents secure and guarantee they are received by the correct recipient," ABA's Rhodes explained. "September 11th demonstrated how fragile the courier and postal systems are, and how easily they can be disrupted by weather, air traffic control and customs."

With committee members scattered throughout the nation, the ABA has encountered problems with wayward e-mails and faxes that never reach the intended recipient.

"Even courier services are not reliable when dealing with time-sensitive information," said Rhodes.

The ABA uses CertainSend, a secure server from Salt Lake City-based Digital Signature Trust (DST), that encrypts and sends documents via SSL (secure socket layer) protocol.

The ABA is also backing the DST digital certificate as a standard for other industries, including securities, insurance and real estate. "Anyone can offer and receive a digital certificate and not know the policy behind it," explained Rhodes. "You can say you are Mickey Mouse and get a digital certificate. We decided there needed to be a standard."

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