Legacy core providers and fintech vendors know what they’re doing. They know how to manipulate contract negotiations and renewals to their advantage. Historically, smaller institutions haven’t had the resources to combat their tactics. That’s changing.
Paladin fs recently moderated a peer discussion session with American Bankers Association’s CFO Peer Exchange virtual event. We moderated 2 breakout rooms and discussed questions around the topics of innovation and the impact COVID19 had on bank technology with 50 community bankers from around the country.
Read below to find out the key takeaways from these bankers on these topics.
Your Core IT vendor knows their stuff — and they should, it’s what you pay them for. However, when core banking providers exploit that knowledge during contract negotiations, it’s a problem.
Historically, Core IT vendors have nickeled and dimed community banks and credit unions with an arsenal of hidden fees and unfair terms. Unlike the major banks, these institutions don’t have the staffing or resources to counter vendors’ legal teams and IT expertise. The result: costly, one-sided contracts that heavily favor the vendors.
To combat unbalanced contracts and predatory terms, you have to outsmart your Core IT vendor, which isn’t as challenging as it may sound. How can you keep the experts honest? It starts with understanding your vendor and negotiation counter party.
Mergers are a common occurrence in the current community banking environment. In our discussions with bankers about strategic growth and possible acquisitions, we find that most are either active in the pursuit or at least open to possible merger opportunities. All bankers should be prepared and have core contract language in place to address being acquired as well as acquiring another institution before an acquisition opportunity is presented.
Below is an actual case study showing many of the critical factors that need to be considered in a core contract for a successful merger.
My name is Bill and I spent the last 10 years employed for one of the “big three” providers of core software for community financial institutions in the United States. A re-read of that previous line aloud almost sounds like I’m part of a 12-step program. Six months now after leaving and switching sides to a consulting firm that professionally negotiates for banks against my previous employer - has been sobering for sure.
We are not looking for opportunities to insult FIS, Fiserv, and Jack Henry. They are fine institutions that offer an array of products and services. When community banks and credit union executives share their candid remarks about the Big Three we bring that information, and more, to your attention. That is why the 2021 Evercore ISI Bank Tech Outlook report we participated in is so insightful.
I have recently been enjoying this classic TV show with my 10-year-old son. 151 more episodes to go! He is enjoying a classic show his grandparents watched at the same age, but he does not bank with a financial institution running COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language). Some things stand the test of time. Your core processor running COBOL will not.
The pent up demand for an alternative, modern, competitive core to the out-dated legacy stack saddling the community financial industry today led by Fiserv, FIS, Jack Henry and their cousins at Finastra and CSI is incredible. Bankers are not only thirsty for a platform that is easy to use and easy to train their staff, they need platforms that are flexible and can be integrated easily with any number of other systems. This isn't much to ask for in the 21st century, but unfortunately the options are slim pickings and will remain that way for some time. I predict that it will be another 3-5 years (circa 2024 - 2025) before any of the new fintech cores are mature enough and exhibit the appropriate risk profile palatable for bankers to jump in. What I mean is that a rank-and-file banker is going to need to see and understand many reference-able accounts that have operated for many years successfully before they will risk their franchise. Community bank CEOs (many older and nearing retirement) are going to be risk averse even though they know a technology transformation is the key to long-term success. Regardless of their tenure, very few bankers are interested in being the 5th, 15th or 25th bank on a new, unproven core platform.
The pandemic of 2020 has been a major business disruption and distraction to the community banking industry - and all industries globally for that matter. Albert Einstein was famously quoted, "In the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity." This fact is not lost on the legacy Core & IT suppliers Fiserv, FIS and Jack Henry as they have recently blanketed their current clients with pre-emptive and unsolicited contract renewals years ahead of their maturity dates. These "Pandemic Deals" as they are being referred to, are finding bankers flat-footed and making many to feel cornered into a long-term, multi-million dollar decision at a great time of uncertainty and when their collective minds are on so many other pressing matters. Bankers that have contacted Paladin feel these offers are intimidating as some vendors tease "take -it-now-or-leave-it" deals that feel more like a strong-arm tactic than a partnership hug.
Three sales reps from Fiserv, FIS and Jack Henry walk into a bar one night and belly up to the counter. The bartender says, "What would you three gentlemen like?" In unison they all answered, "A banker with less than 12 months on his contract willing to negotiate alone!"