Bank Systems & Technology is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Management Strategies

12:42 PM
Connect Directly

Relationship Building Key At First Tennessee

With Tennessee one of only two states that borders on eight other states (Missouri's the other), it's natural for First Tennessee Bank to want to provide its customers direct access to the largest possible range of financial products and services.

With Tennessee one of only two states that borders on eight other states (Missouri's the other), it's natural for First Tennessee Bank to want to provide its customers direct access to the largest possible range of financial products and services.

The bank's All Things Financial strategy drives decisions as to which lines of business to pursue and which to drop. Over the past 18 months, divestitures have included educational loan portfolios, an ATM servicing network, affinity credit card accounts and its corporate and municipal trust business. "We want to have the financial resources to devote to those situations where we can have multiple relationships with a customer," said Patrick Ruckh, chief technology officer at $19 billion First Tennessee. "If it's a single relationship product or service, we probably don't need it in terms of furthering our strategy."

As some product lines get dropped, others get added. The bank has begun offering online banking for small business customers using the Business e-Finance Suite from Boston-based Financial Fusion, a Sybase subsidiary with which First Tennessee has had a relationship for several years. The Java-based Business e-Finance Suite features the ability to initiate wire transfers, originate ACH payments, view accounts, transfer funds and pay bills. The Business e-Finance Suite augments First Tennessee's installation of Financial Fusion's Consumer e-Finance Suite.

The single-minded focus towards developing multiple relationships has led the bank to a reexamination of its customer relationship management systems. "We've got several homegrown systems right now, but we're in the process of reviewing that," said Ruckh. "We have a mortgage company, a brokerage, insurance and mutual fund companies. The system has to be able to accommodate the financial needs of all those products and all those kinds of customers, so that we can do a better job of using our products to ensure the financial success of our customers."

But Ruckh, who's already made his short list, doesn't want to hear from every CRM vendor in the country. He's already privy to a range of customer experiences through his affiliation with several professional organizations, including the Mid-America Automation Group, composed of CIOs from non-competing banks around the country that share information about their respective experiences.

First Tennessee's strategy of developing multiple relationships with key constituents also pays off in other arenas. Susan Bies, a former executive vice president with 22 years experience at the bank, was recently named to the Federal Reserve Board.

Yet another example is a seven-year contract that the bank signed recently with Viewpointe Archive Services, a joint venture between J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America and IBM, to provide its customers with Internet and branch access to check images. Accordingly, both First Tennessee and IBM were able to sell their partnership interests in Check Solutions, a Memphis-based check and image processing software development and installation business, to Dallas-based Carreker. First Tennessee already was outsourcing facilities management to a 200-employee organization managed by IBM.

Correspondent banks and lockbox customers will also use the image archive, as will First Express, a 20-year old joint venture between First Tennessee and Federal Express, which has its largest air cargo hub in Memphis. First Express clears checks for other commercial banks as well as for large commercial customers such as Charles Schwab and Merrill Lynch. "They can fly in checks, and we can clear them more rapidly than anybody else," said Ruckh.

Furthermore, having FedEx as a business partner means that First Tennessee enjoys pricing advantages. "We don't have an exclusivity contract with FedEx, but it would be tough for somebody else to do it," said Jim Blasingame, executive vice president and manager of bank operations at First Tennessee.

First Express captures check images using IBM 3890 sorters for storage in the Viewpointe archive. "This new Viewpointe relationship is going to be very good for us and our customers," said Ruckh. The checks processed by First Express will be stored in the Viewpointe archive, which means that those checks will be accessible to the customers of banks using First Express.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Bank Systems & Technology Newsletters
Bank Systems & Technology Radio
Archived Audio Interviews
Join Bank Systems & Technology Associate Editor Bryan Yurcan, and guests Karen Massey and Jerry Silva from IDC Financial Insights, for a conversation about the firm's 11th annual FinTech rankings.