In January a lifelong friend of mine married a super cool woman he met on a blind date. No Tinder, FarmersOnly, eHarmony, or ChristianMingle – just a good, old-fashioned love match arranged by a mutual friend. Ah… love. Makes you think of your core vendor, no?
Core vendors are kinda like a blind date. You envision a gorgeous, funny and smart mystery person, but really you just hope your date’s visible scabies scarring is minimal and that you don’t end up hog-tied in the back of a creepy panel van. We all have high hopes for our blind dates, but we have to be realistic, too.
So let’s take a look at what the Big 4 core vendors (FIS, Fiserv, Jack Henry and D+H) are doing and have to bring to the table in 2015 (other than a sweetheart deal).
Banks: With the triad of Premier, Signature and DNA, Fiserv has maybe the most well-rounded suite of core products out there for mid-size banks of varying delivery preferences and strategies. Premier registered a great win in Bank of the Ozarks in 2014.
Credit Unions: Fiserv has delivered when it comes to improving the DNA product’s stability and sales. They are flat-out selling the crap out of DNA to credit unions and also holding their own with banks. The only “Yeah, but…” is that so many of the new DNA sales have been to existing Fiserv core clients. In 2015 will Fiserv be able to continue DNA’s strong market momentum outside of its own core base?
General: Pundits, consultants and other industry hangers-on go blue in the face talking about the Big 4 vendors’ need to be more… uh… cooperative when it comes to third party system integration. But here’s the elephant in the room. What we really mean is that Fiserv in particular has a strong need to improve in this area. Most, including myself, have just been too weak to call it out. While all vendors stand to improve, by far the angriest and most vociferous integration complaints come from Fiserv core clients. And there is not even a close second.
Fiserv has become the poster child for struggling to execute on a loan origination system story, though FIS and JHA wrestle with LOS, too. Take a look at the two headlines below from the Fiserv web site.
Would you think Fiserv just:
- Developed a brand new product?, or
- Renamed a product it unveiled almost seven years ago and still struggles to capture significant market share?
Free shot of Jäger for those who answered “b”!
Banks: With IBS, FIS has a strong commercial banking platform with solid momentum, a great customer base of $1 billion+ banks, and a contender on the short list at just about any mid-size bank seeking an outsourced solution. And winning media darling Umpqua’s business last year certainly didn’t hurt.
IBS has also, by most accounts from Cornerstone’s client base, grown its implementation staff fast enough to keep its acquisition-happy banks satisfied. Stories of prolonged wait times to integrate acquired banks have all but ceased, and to FIS’s great credit, it seems to have grown without sacrificing quality.
Outside of IBS, however, FIS is struggling to establish an identity with its core banking products, including Horizon, BancPac and Bankway. If you’re a $2 billion bank that wants an outsourced core, everyone knows FIS will bring IBS. But what if you’re a $500 million community bank that wants to operate core in-house? There’s no easy answer there, and that can hurt FIS’s ability to win deals in that sector. The market is looking for a more concise, thoughtful message from FIS on its products other than IBS.
Credit Unions: The FIS credit union story is nowhere. Despite multiple attempts to assure the market that the Miser core is here to stay in Credit Union Land, the market is not buying it. With minimal market awareness, slow sales momentum and a message that is doing nothing to help, FIS’s tenuous position in the credit union market is on the precipice. It is time for FIS to come out loud, bold and earth-shattering to resurrect its name with credit unions. Or just buy a competitor.
General: We were sorry to hear about the retirement of former CEO Frank Martire, though he is succeeded by long-time FIS hotshot, Gary Norcross. FIS’s challenge here is to convince clients that Norcross will be just as much of a customer advocacy guru as Martire was.
Banks: Silverlake remains a stalwart of the mid-size bank market. The new Experience UI for front-end applications is well received by prospects and is a much needed modernization shot in the arm, but the real home run will be when Experience is ready for back office applications as well.
JHA is struggling with its channel delivery story, though. While JHA has been hard at work on them, its NetTeller online banking and goDough mobile products remain a noticeable step behind the competition, especially when it comes to all-important look and feel. And when it comes to a credible story for online cash management for businesses, JHA is…
Credit Unions: I hate to be a broken record, but the real need for Symitar is to spin a convincing, consistent tale about what the hell it’s going to do with its proprietary database and/or a new, third party database. Are you going to support both forever? Are you eventually migrating away from the proprietary model? Are you going to feed a third party database with your proprietary database? The story changes depending on who and when you ask.
General: JHA continues to grow without losing its service edge, a mind-bending rarity in any industry. There are exceptions, but JHA remains a leader when it comes to service.
It’s troubling, however, that JHA has sheepishly punted by leaving loan and deposit origination development to a partner – albeit a strong partner in MeridianLink. We get partnering when it makes sense, but man, account origination is such an integral part of JHA’s client base that anything other than a nicely self-developed product is selling customers short.
D+H has the unique claim of being a vendor much better known for its ancillary systems (LaserPro, CreditQuest, DecisionPro, uOpen, etc.) than for its core products – namely Phoenix in Cornerstone’s market. D+H truly is the only Big 4 vendor that doesn’t have to blush or stutter when discussing its LOS strategy.
Though the Phoenix product could use some improvement in functionality and integration for credit unions, it tends to show pretty well to our bank and credit union clients alike. So, what’s stopping Phoenix from duking it out with Symitar and DNA in the CU world and Premier and IBS with banks?
Almost no one has ever heard of it.
Cornerstone consistently has to introduce – not just discuss, but introduce – Phoenix to most of our clients, banks and credit unions alike. Phoenix needs market awareness and name recognition more than just about anything else.
OK, I’m retreating to my reinforced bunker in Estonia after dishing the VendorDirt this week.
Clients… you know how to reach me!
follow me on twitter: @VendorDirt
Top 3 Reasons Banks Avoid System Selections
- A shortage of information about vendors and their products
- Lack of a clear methodology
- Minimal time to manage such an important project
If any of these sound familiar, we should talk. Cornerstone Advisors has been helping banks and credit unions make educated decisions about their systems vendors for more than a decade.
We’ve done it hundreds of times, and we have a long list of satisfied clients to prove it.