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other three farm credit banks, it issues farm credit bonds through a New Jersey-based funding company.

FCBT’s sector has been a troubled one, initially as a result of the economic crisis and, of late, as a result of droughts, particularly in Texas. Commodity prices can have a big impact, with the oil boom putting a lot of cash into some of the banks’ borrowers. ‘However, year-on-year, through the worst financial crisis in living memory, we have increased our profits,’ said FCBT’s CIO, Michael Elliott, in February 2015. In part, he attributed this to the arrival of a ‘very savvy’ CEO in 2003 from one of the other farm credit banks.

System Selection

FCBT originally had an old IBM iSeries-based loan accounting platform with a system called Cardinal as its heart, but had been heavily customised over the years so could be viewed as a home-grown platform. In 2000, the bank had built a Microsoft .Net-based front-end.

As the bank became more commercially focused,

particularly looking to capitalise on the short-term lending market in Texas, so the customised platform was proving too inflexible to support the ambitions. It tried to enhance the system but, as a bank rather than a software house, this was not its area of expertise.

This brought an original selection in 2004/5 of FIS’s ACBS. Both ACBS and LoanIQ have been around more than 20

years, were acquired a long while ago by their current parents and have often been mentioned in the same breath when talking about the relatively under-populated syndicated lending systems sector.

ACBS was taken on a hosted basis but, as FCBT started to build up its participation portfolio, it began to find restrictions with its chosen platform, with functionality felt to be lacking to support the intricacies of the newer business. FCBT did not feel comfortable with FIS’s ability to modify the system.

The bank undertook an RFP-based selection process to find a replacement, aided by Arizona-based consulting company, Cornerstone Advisors.

ACBS was considered, so too LoanIQ and a number of broader core banking systems, such as Fiserv’s Signature.

• A false start

There was what turned out to be a false start when one of the core systems, Silverlake from domestic supplier, Jack Henry & Associates, was chosen (to be installed on an in- house basis). This was in 2008.

According to the bank’s lending services VP at the time, using Cornerstone Advisors, the 18-month selection had concluded that Silverlake was the system ‘most compatible with our core lending needs’. The ‘highly customisable’ nature of the system was expected to aid the implementation.

Core Banking Systems Case Studies: North America 27

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