August 07, 2008

When four Texas bankers decided to form their own state savings institution in late 2004, speed was their overriding concern. How fast could they gear up for business? And how quickly could they process loan applications once they were in business?

Of course, the answers would be based largely on Austin, Texas-based Independent Bank of Austin's (IBA) technology set-up. "We wanted something that was easy to use and easy to train on that put as much control as possible in our hands," says Julie Buchanan, EVP - operations (and one of the bank's founders), of IBA's criteria for selecting a core systems provider.

IBA's ($152.9 million in assets) four principals first considered Brookfield, Wis.-based Fiserv products "because that's what we were all familiar with [from our experience at another bank]," Buchanan explains. Then, in November 2004, they sat through a demo of products from Jacksonville, Fla.-based Fidelity National Information Services (FIS).

The group was sold on the FIS technology package's functionality and liked that it demonstrated a "familiar Windows-like feel," according to Buchanan, who notes that IBA's application servers run the Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) Windows Server 2003 operating system, while workstations run Windows XP SP2. The bank uses a fractional T1 connectivity. The outsourced FIS solution also was "competitively priced," Buchanan adds.

Buchanan credits the FIS core banking technology package -- which includes the BancPac core processing solution, FIS' deposit platform, the TellerPlus online teller system, an enterprise report management tool and CallReporter Premier (which automates the filing of quarterly FFIEC reports) -- for IBA's smooth start-up and significant growth. The de novo planned to launch in September 2005, she relates. But the implementation of its initial FIS package was so problem-free that IBA was able to open three months ahead of schedule. "Fidelity provided the servers we needed with all software that was required," she relates. "They also gave us a complete package of printers, teller computer equipment, etc. All computers [that FIS] supplied had the software needed to run their program." The vendor also provided one-on-one training for all employees in their day-to-day functions during the bank's first week of operation.

Buchanan also credits the FIS technologies with eliminating many labor-intensive processes. Buchanan says IBA has just 19 full-time employees, while most banks in its peer group average 30 to 35 employees. Pointing out that the bank was rated the No. 1 de novo in 2006, its first full year in operation, by Highline Data (Cambridge, Mass.), Buchanan adds that IBA turned a profit of $1.4 million in 2006, followed by a $2.2 million profit in 2007. She notes that the bank's niche market is commercial real estate and home construction lending.

According to Buchanan, the FIS package allows IBA to make changes to bank settings (such as rates), add or delete products, add options to drop-down menus, control user access, make changes to customer notices, and complete General Ledger (GL) closeout and map GL numbers. Further, the solution provides the ability to build and customize reports, which can be set to generate automatically, she says.

IBA continues to upgrade the FIS package -- and expand the bank's product offerings. IBA rolled out a merchant deposit capture service in March 2007 with the addition of FIS' Commercial Capture Xpress. "Over 50 accounts are signed up. Everybody just loves it," Buchanan says, explaining that customers appreciate the system's ease of use as well as the quicker availability of funds.

Recently, the bank built and moved into new headquarters. Just as with its initial start-up, Buchanan says, the FIS package was instrumental in a smooth transition to the new facility. "We did not have to spend extended time ensuring those systems were up and running," she relates. --Paula Damiano

Case Study Snapshot

Institution: Independent Bank of Austin (Austin, Texas).

Assets: $152.9 million.

Business Challenge: Open doors for business quickly and at low cost, while deploying easy-to-use core systems.

Solution: Fidelity National Information Services' (Jacksonville, Fla.) suite of outsourced core banking systems, including the BancPac processing solution.

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