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September 5, 2013 by Scott Hodgins Scott Hodgins

GonzoBanker’s Onion-Stripping Conference Attendee Checklist

130905aThough the 105+ degree temperatures here in The Valley of the Sun might scream otherwise, fall is here, GonzoBankers, and with autumn comes the banking conference and convention season. With Finovate right around the corner and BAI Retail Delivery not far behind, it’s time to start hoarding drink tickets and working up an appetite for Sterno-warmed chicken cacciatore and bite-sized tiramisu.

Also, next week both Symitar and Fiserv are hosting conferences for their credit union clients. Symitar clients will visit San Diego, while Fiserv’s CU clients get to go to Vegas, baby, Vegas! It’s a perfect metaphor for the past 6 to 8 years in the CU core market – the dependable San Diego versus roll the dice in Vegas. OK, I kid, but it’s kinda true.

The CU core market has been in disarray for years, and Symitar has been the chief benefactor of the chaos, signing clients as fast as humanly possible for the last decade or so. While Symitar is a solid product, the company’s rise to superstardom has been as much about the utter dearth of alternative products as it has been about Symitar’s functional and service strengths. Now that Fiserv has acquired OSI and the DNA product line, Symitar should start to feel the heat.

Here is GonzoBanker’s Onion-Stripping Checklist for our many readers who will be attending the Fiserv and Symitar conferences this week.


1. Why are you outsourcing our lifeblood to MeridianLink?
At least in Cornerstone’s market, Symitar is consistently proposing Opening Act (a rebranded version of MeridianLink) for loan and deposit origination. I’d have some serious, burning heartburn if my core vendor was outsourcing the very lifeblood of my operation – the opening of loan and deposit accounts. While Opening Act is a fine enough product, I want my core vendor to own account opening, be thinking about it all the time, tweaking it constantly, etc. – not hoping MeridianLink continues to do so. Symitar’s direction here feels much more opportunistic than strategic.

2. Can you clarify the “third party database” discussion?
Fellow GonzoBankers Terence Roche, Eric Weikart and I agreed that more detail is needed regarding the type(s) of third party database(s) to be supported, timing, ability for current clients to migrate to the newly supported database, etc. Weikart pointed out that Symitar spent so many years explaining why the proprietary database issue is not really an issue that the market is having a hard time understanding why the cave-in now. I think the bigger issue is will Symitar really support its proprietary database AND the third party database long term? The company line is yes, but case law and common sense suggest otherwise.

3. Now that Fiserv has DNA in its arsenal, what are your plans to keep Symitar a leader in the market?
While it hasn’t happened quite yet, Fiserv is pretty sure to get the DNA machine back into Full Momentum Mode. Fiserv is still smarting from the Acumen headache, and Symitar has been the chief benefactor. But I believe that Fiserv will eventually steady the waters and emerge with a reinvigorated, stabilized DNA product. A heady competitor like that is something Symitar has not had to manage in quite some time.


1. How long are you realistically going to operate OSI as a separate business unit?
Running OSI as a standalone entity is completely contrary to the company’s One Fiserv mantra, as Weikart pointed out. We understand that there is a certain amount of “Don’t worry, things aren’t going to change that much”-type of communications that the market and user base will expect, but it’s hard to imagine Fiserv straying so far from its corporate direction for the long haul.

The level of autonomy granted to OSI should matter to all Fiserv core clients, not just DNA clients. It’s saying one thing if DNA gets to be about the only product line in Fiserv to be run as an independent business group. It says a lot about resource allocation, DNA’s role as a flagship core product, and even more about the future of the non-DNA core products at Fiserv’s CU division. If OSI’s autonomy is really just temporary and designed to cushion the acquisition blow for OSI customers, that means organizational and probably product development roadmap changes aplenty are going to happen. Reorgs and roadmap changes almost always lead to new development delays. The people have a right to know!

2. How are you going to manage the considerable negativity in the client base caused by the Acumen mess?
Of course, the actual Acumen signees and clients are bound to be pissed when a highly promoted product gets canned. But just as important are the dozens and dozens of XP2, Spectrum, DataSafe, etc. Fiserv core clients that basically punted on their core decisions in hope that Fiserv would deliver on Acumen. I can think of a dozen CU clients that I personally worked with who altered their core direction plans – sometimes in a very public way – to give Acumen some time to prosper. Lots of CIOs and other execs put their reputations and necks on the block for Fiserv’s Acumen story, and it’s important that Fiserv gets vocal about how it plans to rectify the situation in addition to the “We’ll work with each client individually” line.

3. What is the story with ancillary systems now that the OSI acquisition has further muddied the waters?
Weikart and I agreed that this is a must-know answer regardless of any highfalutin organizational issues with Fiserv/OSI. It’s imperative that Fiserv core clients understand the all-important future of:

  • Loan origination: Is the future COPS, Velocity, EasyLender or something else? Will Fiserv leverage the MeridianLink product as it proposed to do with some Acumen clients?
  • Document Management: Does COWWW from OSI have a future with Nautilus in the Fiserv arsenal?
  • Teller Capture: How will OSI’s tMagic and Fiserv’s Source Capture Solutions be affected by the acquisition?
  • Internet Banking: Is Fiserv realistically going to support DNAweb, one of the former OSI’s bigger development embarrassments in my opinion, along with Corillian and the countless other core-based IB platforms Fiserv supports? Logic says no, but we shall see.

Those are the Onion-Strippers for the Symitar and Fiserv conferences next week. No need to load yourself down with endless details. Get these answered, and your trip to San Diego or Vegas will be paid for.

Speaking of conferences, I will be at Finovate in NYC next week. Shoot me an email or contact me through Twitter (@VendorDirt) if you want to get together!













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