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There were plans in place in 2015 to upgrade to version 7.x, which is Java-based. The bank was already using it on a test basis by then, and was hoping to move to the 7.4 version. The new functionality, particularly for payment disbursements, would be a major advantage. Also, 7.4 would be integrated with CustomLender, the front office solution from Misys (see below for further details).


Many of the original gaps in LoanIQ have been closed, said Elliott. If the momentum is maintained then, particularly with the addition of the front-end, Misys has a good opportunity in the mid-market, he added.


Front office software overhaul


Having gone live with LoanIQ for accounting, attention turned to the front-end for the parent banks.


There was a separate selection for this. This started with 42 systems on the long-list and ended with Sungard’s Ambit Commercial Lender (Sungard is now part of FIS). This had at its heart the CustomLender system from US-based CCS, with some other Sungard software around it.


An influence was the choice a couple of years earlier of Ambit Commercial Lender by FCBT’s California-based equivalent, AgFirst Farm Credit Bank, albeit that this bank does not have LoanIQ. There is a close relationship between FCBT and AgFirst, including working together within syndications. The flexibility and configurability of CustomLender was also an influence.


The fact that, by a happy coincidence from FCBT’s perspective, Misys acquired CCS and the CustomLender product in mid-2014 as FCBT was going through its final evaluations. This is expected to aid the integration with LoanIQ and also means that the bank becomes the first to go live with the combined products.


Within Misys’ rebranding of its product set, CustomLender is now known as Fusionbanking Credit Management Enterprise. Together with LoanIQ, they are marketed as the Fusionbanking Lending front-to-back office solution.


• Anticipated challenges


Change management would be a major challenge. Looking forward to this, Elliott said: ‘We will ensure that we prepare our people out in the field, that preparation starts now.’ There will be an advisory committee that will meet on a


Core Banking Systems Case Studies: North America www.ibsintelligence.com 29


periodic basis and would scrutinise the system and process changes.


• Benefits


Elliott described CustomLender as a ‘very flexible, configurable system’ and felt that the CCS acquisition was inspired by Misys’ ambitions to move into the mid-market.


A benefit of the acquisition for FCBT is that previously it would have had to build all of the integration between LoanIQ and CustomLender, now this is part of Misys’ roadmap.


FCBT has still separately taken a couple of the components that made up Ambit Commercial Lender, including Sungard’s Optimist credit risk management solution.


For CustomLender, a benefit is that AgFirst is a couple of years ahead of FCBT so some of the requirements that are specific to its farm credit model will have been made. However, AgFirst does not use LoanIQ, so this is a key difference.


The analysis stage for the CustomLender project was underway in Q1 2015. There would be no rush with timelines, said Elliott, as this is a ten-year asset and the main goal is to satisfy the needs of the 14 banks, with the focus being improved competitiveness and reduced operational costs.


‘The new front-end is going to change their whole world,’ he commented.


Conclusion


Clearly, FCBT had a couple of false starts before settling on its current strategy, but it has a clear vision and has a solid accounting back-end in the current version of LoanIQ. Lessons from previous projects are being carried forward and the bank has one main supplier, through circumstance rather than design, providing both the front- and back-ends.


The relationship with the vendor has improved too, the lessons have hopefully been taken on board on both sides, and Misys is now a strategic provider to the bank.


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