Welcome to the 2002 GonzoBanker Awards, our second annual foray into recognizing those people and things that made us nod our heads in appreciation, shake our heads in disbelief, and head straight for the door in despair.
Why do it again, you ask? Well, there are lots of reasons:
Once again, for those who forgot, the rules for bestowing a GonzoBanker award are simple – we don’t need no stinkin’ rules.
So sit down, strap in, pop a tall neck, and enjoy.
Check image archive with Web delivery.
Commercial and retail customers are simply eating up this new functionality. This technology is a nice win for banks that also sets a foundation for upcoming Check Truncation Act process changes.
Imaging of branch documents.
The paperless new account and teller window withdrawal processes might actually be possible in 2003.
Account transfer/”A2A”/”Me2Me” payments.
The demand looks ripe for this type of service, if we can make it secure and well-integrated into a bank’s Internet offerings.
No one argues with the security benefits, but so far there are way too many work flow and standards issues to settle without a crisis to accelerate their resolution.
The economic and social benefits of letting employees work wherever the hell they want are very real and the technology is there to allow it. BlackBerrys, wireless laptops, virtual call centers – bring it on!
Automated sales and incentive payment tracking.
(Note: a repeat from 2001. Anybody taking notes?)
.NET is the successor to Windows 2000 Server. It has been updated to provide”easy” Web services. This is a major revision, and Microsoft’s record with new releases stinks. It will likely be a good product in 2004 or 2005, but beware V1.0 from Microsoft.
The technology is ready. Now all we need are customers with even the slightest bit of interest in using it.
Microsoft’s Software Assurance.
A Harvard mathematician with a Cray computer couldn’t figure out how much a bank would end up paying Microsoft in the various options.
It’s kind of wild watching our industry do everything possible to convince our customers not to use a secure, cost effective payment vehicle because we want to make more money on the signature side.
Nice looking PowerPoint presentations.
We particularly like the chart that shows all systems, products and customer touch points coming together in perfect harmony with a robust messaging layer in the middle. Too bad we can’t tell how many of our commercial borrowers have a Trust account with the bank.
Just listen to how it rolls off the tongue… triple DES! Are you compliant yet, dude?
For the release of its standard application programming interface (API). Innovative ITI clients are running with it.
For trends most likely (but not necessarily deserving) to die young.
It’s amazing how much of it is still around.
Jack Grubman, Salomon Smith Barney.
Any guy who says, “What used to be a conflict is now a synergy” needs a whoopin’.
Ed Francis, Hancock Holding Company.
The banking business seems fun again when you hang around pumped-up innovative bankers like Ed.
Jim Giraldin, First Federal Bank of California.
If you don’t know your numbers around Jim, you’re just plain hosed.
While the banking industry is full of workaholics who burn the midnight oil, we’d have to give this award to Rick Tremblay, CFO of Gold Banc in Kansas City.
This guy always has 80 things on his plate and spends 99% of his nights and weekends working. Take a breather and drink some eggnog this week Rick… you deserve it!
First Republic Bank (San Francisco) CEO Jim Herbert.
On a trip from California to New York, Jim calls on a state lottery winner and picks up a nice investment management account.
Rocco Suspenzi, Parkway Bank, Chicago.
Never mind segmentation and targeted marketing. Rocco takes his best customers and his management team to Las Vegas for a weekend every year. We’ll bet the ROI is stratospheric.
Ed Jankowski, Rockland Bank and Trust.
Belying the image of anal-retentive outcasts who require that we count the cash twice, Ed actually argues about business improvement and plays on the team.
These CIOs join Mike Elvir (Bank of Oklahoma), John Hairston (Hancock Bank), and Don Peters (Associated Banc-Corp) in our CIOs Who “Get” Banking Hall of Fame.
Butch Leonardson, Boeing Employees Credit Union.
This was a high-profile conversion that Butch pulled off because of a lot of discipline, teamwork, and testing, testing, testing.
Jose Garcia, Symitar (again).
If everyone knew their systems and could talk to users as well as Jose, we’d need a lot less No-Doz.
Senior executive at a large bank commenting on the support he gets from the IT group: “I feel like there’s a party going on in the basement, only I’m not having any @*%$ fun!”
Tom Brown of Bankstocks.com.
Two weeks after the first Gonzo awards, Tom issued his “First-ever bankstocks.com awards.” We forgive him, though – they were pretty good, and Tom is the straightest talker in bank investing. Bankstocks.com is a Web site worth a look.
County Bank of Merced, California.
Hats off to CEO Tom Hawker and his management team for delivering 25% loan growth and 20% deposit growth on an annual basis since 1999. Without acquisitions, County has gone from $500 million to $1 billion in only three years, while its stock has jumped from under $10 to $24!
Park National Corp. of Newark, Ohio.
No celebrity TV spots or Taj Mahal facilities with marble flooring. Amid the hoopla of sales cultures, leading-edge technology, and diversification plans, Dan DeLawder, David Trautman, and the Park National gang quietly sport an ROA of 2.67% and an ROE of 28%. Here’s an argument for hardcore smart, rock solid bankers who manage costs like zealots and generate returns that make analysts and investors drool.
Bay View Capital, California.
A once-proud bank with a 91-year history in the San Francisco Bay Area has to be sold off in pieces and dissolved because no buyer would see fit to acquire the franchise. A $6.50 investment in stock in 1986 is worth $5.75 now. This gem from the “Risk” section of the shareholder notification of dissolution: “Our directors and officers may have interests in the transaction with US Bank that differ from your interests… We estimate that the change-in-control benefits realized by our executive officers total approximately $22.3 million. These benefits may cause some of our directors and executive officers to view the proposal… differently than you view it.” No kidding, bubba.
When are we going to learn that high-risk lending always blows up and invariably makes “innovative” players look just plain stupid?
First Interstate of Montana.
If you want to see a great succession planning process, give Lyle Knight and Bob Jones a call up in Billings. They have identified every position that needs succession planning, identified internal employees to fill them, and given those employees specific plans and direction on how to prepare. We’ve never seen better.
Community First of Fargo, North Dakota.
It’s too bad most banks have dumped their training programs to save money. Community First has put the time, money, and executive management attention into building leaders for the future internally.
Big bank financial supermarkets.
After witnessing Citigroup’s AT&T stock rating changes, pressuring corporate emails and tony YMCA pre-school slots, one starts to think that old Glass and Steagal may have known what they were taking about.
Every Commercial Real Estate Lending group who just wants a damn loan tracking/document preparation system that actually works for them, please.
These poor guys who lend on bricks and dirt are stuck with crummy doc prep systems, retrofitted mortgage origination systems, and cobbled messes of Microsoft Access and Excel. Wake up vendors… there’s money to be made.
Actual conversation at a large commercial bank:
Dutiful Bank Employee: Sir, if we don’t upgrade our telco system IMMEDIATELY, we could lose all of the phones at our headquarters for a month!
Unnamed CEO: Just think how much work we’ll get done without those damn phones ringing all day.
Banks building lots of new branches.
NACHA’s Project Action dies on the vine.
Gonzo thinks ACH is cool – it’s the Sean Connery of payment systems. Too bad banks didn’t rally around this idea with some funding and enthusiasm.
It’s hard to achieve higher asset management fees when the assets have shrunk 25%.
It’s not too hard to catch a piece of the pie when a record $2 trillion of mortgages is being booked.
Aurum wins Farmers and Mechanics Bank in Maryland.
A nice win in Aurum’s strategy to gain more commercial banks.
It will be nice to see ATM competition heat up a bit more. Genpass has big names and mongo ambitions, but what GonzoBankers most want to see is better customer service in the electronic banking business.
S1 acquires SDI.
Call us sentimental, but why do we feel that if SDI, Edify and Q-UP had remained independent, the banking software industry would be in better shape today?
ALLTEL Information Systems.
The acquisition and leveraging of Benchmark Consulting International was a smooth move.
Can we have some more time on this one?
Gary Daniel (formerly of ALLTEL), Bud Boughton (formerly of Phoenix, Fiserv), Rick Wallace (formerly of Phoenix, EDS), George Stump (formerly of Metavante, Fiserv)… this is like industry ol’ home week.
Mark Hill of Baker Hill.
This award is given to the vendor who best exemplifies Popeye’s motto, “I am what I am, and that’s all I am.” Through Mark’s leadership, Baker Hill has avoided the many temptations of acquisitions, venture money, IPO, product diversification, and high-fat diets. We applaud the folks in Carmel, Indiana, for their strategic focus and no nonsense approach to delivering software.
The shake-up, stirring, and general discomfort that the emergence of Aurum and OSI in the credit union world has caused the traditional CU vendors. We desperately need more of the same on the bank side.
“Our Web-based platform/teller system is ready.”
Here’s an actual quote we heard this year: “We sell front end customer data management. The core system doesn’t matter. No matter what core system it is, we just plug it in and it works…”
At the Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co. Inc.’s investor conference in New York (as reported by American Banker):
An exchange, witnessed by about 15 executives and one snotty consultant, between a senior developer at a mid-size financial institution and the president of a vendor selling an admittedly aging core processing product:
Developer: “How does [your product] compete with newer products that were developed in the late ’80s or even the ’90s, with advanced programming languages, contemporary architecture and a modern look and feel?”
Vendor Senior Exec: “Well, it’s a matter of taste – just like dating. Would you rather date someone young and sexy or someone mature and reliable?”
[The polls are still open, GonzoMongers, but I don’t think we’ll have to count the absentee ballots on this one.]
Hey, when you’re a consultant who has to sit through lots of day-long demonstrations, you furrow and dig for those few nuggets that keep you coming back. Here’s a 2002 sampler:
#1: Worst opening line by a vendor at a core system demo:
“You’re going to have to bear with me here. I really don’t know this system too well.”
#2: Well, thank God we cleared that up.
During a system demonstration, when asked about when certain functionality would be available, a sales representative replied, “I can say with absolute certainty that it might be in one of the next releases.”
#3: Who says men are afraid of commitment?
When asked if a vendor would contractually promise that its system complied with federal regulations, the salesperson replied, “Well, anything is negotiable.”
#4: Oh, sit down and shut up so we can see how a withdrawal works.
The CEO of one system vendor started the presentation by stating, “Our mission is to turn your ideas and dreams into systems and code.”
#5: The presenter most in touch with the common man since Rockefeller…
One demonstration of Trust systems started with the presenter saying, “Let’s take a typical family with a net worth of $1.2 million.”
#6: Now, if he could do that same trick with cash, we’d hire him in a second!
During a system demo, a vendor, explaining how the ATM/debit card re-issuance process worked, started with, “Let’s say a guy put his wallet in his back pocket, forgot it was there, sat on a chair, and crapped his card.”
The immaculate server cathedral at Ent Federal Credit Union, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Not a wire to be seen. A raised floor you’d let your baby eat on. Temperature more constant than an ICU ward. Spec-freakin-tacular.
Overdraft privilege consulting.
We can’t believe an entire consulting industry is being grown out of giving bankers simple advice on how to charge for overdraft privilege and then taking a sizable cut of the revenue increase. Please bankers, how about a little more rugged individualism?
Good to Great.
This book was so interesting and well written it just got out of hand in the buzz factor. Too many bank execs looking in the mirror calling themselves “Level 5” leaders.
Big banks… no explanation required.
Sarbanes Oxley… no explanation required.
The GonzoBankers are throwing caution to the wind here and risking our reputation with these 2003 long-shot predictions:
#1: One of the top five core vendors will be acquired by one of the others in 2003. (Terence Roche)
#2: Of these four major players in the retail Internet banking market – Corillian, Digital Insight, S1 and Online Resources – only two will be independent by year-end 2003. (Scott Hodgins)
#3: Microsoft Office 11 will fall on its face, and StarOffice will gain a footing as a result. (Carl Faulkner)
#4: Due to heightened attention from consumer action groups, some states will begin to regulate bank overdraft fees and “privilege” activity. Bank regulators will require more “fair fee” type reporting, similar to the Fair Lending regulations implemented in the past. (Steve Williams)
#5: Jerry Garcia will be found gorging on rib tips at a Red Lion restaurant in Reno, Nevada. The Grateful Dead will reunite and play at the BAI Retail Delivery conference, which will report record attendance. Is it getting smoky in here? (Scott Sommer)
Cornerstone Advisors, Inc. (Creators and authors of GonzoBanker.)
Call us self-promoting, but 2002 has been a blast! We couldn’t have done it without the support of our Mongo Gonzo clients and our dedicated Gonzo readers. Thanks and thanks again!