Welcome to the first annual GonzoBanker Awards. These awards are based on what we saw that we loved, what we saw that made us want to hork up our lunches, and what we saw that had us scratching our sorry noggins in utter perplexity.
Our methodology for bestowing the GonzoBanker awards is simple: take the criteria John Madden uses to select his all-Madden team, eliminate all of them, and trash any objectivity that may have existed. Yeah, that’s about right.
So pour the nog, put up your feet, fasten the chinstrap tight, and enjoy the ride.
Shorebank in Chicago. What, a feel-good story in banking? Damn straight. Shorebank supports 11 subsidiaries that are out in the community helping low-income folks buy homes, start small businesses, and manage their finances. Shorebank’s numbers won’t floor you, but we need more of this kind of thinking in banking. Check it out
A photo-finish second place goes to Abigail Adams Bancorp in Washington, DC
The senior management at First State Bank in Albuquerque. On a regular basis, they have lunch with a different group of bank employees – all departments, all levels mixed together. The employees talk — anything goes. Management listens, and they act on it when it makes sense. And, boy, do those employees love working there. As Terence’s daughter and the seventh-grade girls at Madison School say: “Way cool.”
Commerce Bank of New Jersey. There wasn’t a stock analyst out there who wasn’t going ga ga over Commerce. We heard the “kids even get lollipops” story from three different investment bankers.
Pacific National Bank of Miami, FL. We’ve never seen a cleaner, better organized, more kick-ass facility.
Superior Bank of Chicago. Yet another “innovator” who could have used more guys with green eye shades around the place. Spurred quite a catfight between OTS and FDIC as well.
Mark Anderson, Community First Bankshares, Fargo, ND. Talk about a guy who knows how to talk numbers with the analysts!
To Mike Gullion, CEO of Gold Banc in Kansas City. Every time we’re there, Mike walks in the door with a new loan package he “got at lunch”… or he starts pulling checks out of his pocket for new accounts… or he tells us about the new joint venture. It never stops. Somewhere in there, he sleeps.
Kathy Wilderman, Associated Banc-Corp, Green Bay, WI. For parachuting into hairy projects, expertly executing them, and rapidly getting out – smiling the entire time.
Dan Fisher, Community First Service Corporation, Fargo, ND. This award goes to the CIO who best treats computer security like warfare. Ask Dan how he lures hackers into his killing field just past the DMZ.
First Federal Savings Bank of La Crosse. These guys have made mortgage refinance a one-step process. We mean it, one step on the system. Same loan number for the borrower. And on an AS/400 – not a line of browser code in sight. The key to First Fed’s success? It wasn’t new technology. It was that everybody forgot to tell them that this was too hard to pull off, and they forgot to ask.
David Dietz, Stillwater National Bank and Trust, Stillwater, OK. With a little SQL server, cheap intranet tools and Crystal Reports, David has created an information environment that the even large banks would drool over… especially the awesome integration of Sendero profitability data.
The debit card. The basic math is 40 bucks a year every time you put a card in a customer’s hand.
Consultative selling. No comment please.
Mortgage production. The processors, underwriters and closers over in the mortgage shop are simply worn out.
Goes to any core vendor that – through policy, politics or pricing – allows only batch interfaces to its system from third party vendors. With all the talk of “open” systems, it still comes down to locking out the other guy. You’re bringin’ me down.
“Of course it’ll wax your car and make you breakfast – it’s got an Oracle database!!”
Unnamed data warehouse sales rep when asked to name a single client that has cost-justified the product.
To e-Bank, the fledgling CRM provider, for nabbing Wells Fargo. We suspect Paul Jameson’s pit-bull enthusiasm helped win this one.
The Fiserv purchase of NCR’s community banking business was a home run. This has a snug strategic fit and was a long time coming.
Jack Henry. Jack is beating the rest of the industry in the sub-$5 billion market like so many red-headed stepchildren.
To any vendor that trotted out a branch system, call center system or data warehouse and announced that it had been a CRM solution all along.
Goes to the loan originator demonstrator who, when asked if he could fill out a 1003 form, said, “That right there is the beauty of client server.”
With an honorable mention to the vendor who, when asked if the system utilized databases and programming languages that were proprietary or non-proprietary, said “Absolutely.”
The president of a CRM software company, when asked how long it would take to completely integrate his company’s solution with a core system, from scratch, stem to stern, said, “Maybe two months.”
Regional core processors. Who would have thought that there would be a dozen small regional core systems focusing on small community banks still alive in 2001? But, hey, they’re through Y2K, they have plenty of clients, they give great service, the price is right, and they’re making money. Proof positive that niches are alive and well
Any presentation that still has the phrase “high tech, high touch.”
“Our solution integrates customer information across every touch point.”
“Things are kind of slow, so we’re willing to make a deal.”
Automated sales reporting and incentive payments
Data warehouse. This is a tough one. On paper this project is a great idea, but nobody seems to have the time and nobody seems to have the money to really make it work.
The firewall. Between hacks and viruses and terrorists, computer security rose to the top of the priority list.
XML. Is this the saving grace for interfaces? Slowly, developers are starting to speak the same language.
Instant messaging. While few corporations endorse it, we might see IM as a key tool in future work flow environments. To all old farts, try it – it’s really cool!
Microsoft Service Pack Updates. Seems like there’s a new one every five minutes, but if you don’t update, your bank is simply hosed.
Wireless access ATMs. We’re not talking about an ATM attached wireless to a data network. We’re talking about using a Palm or cell phone to command an ATM that lacks a screen or keyboard – sheeeesh!
Trust systems. Waiting for enhancements is worse than watching paint dry.
Loan origination systems. LaserPro or Bankers Systems for docs… Appro for consumer… Baker Hill for commercial… can we see a little more action here please?!
Hang on, I’m going through a tunnel.
Account aggregation. One step away from the in-kitchen chicken rotisserie and the fruit dehydrator.
Bank shopping portals are outer than out. Can I get an “AMEN!!” from the congregation??
The folks at Sandler O’Neill and KBW. It was great to see both companies muster the strength to start rebuilding their organizations after 9-11.
Eleven consecutive rate cuts by Greenspan. No treasurer on earth predicted this one – felt like financial bungy jumping down to lowest short rates in 40 years!
NCR/Starcom/Autobank/Sanchez. An inglorious ending to a bad trip, man.
Russian mafia tries to hack small community banks running Q-UP – can’t you just picture a guy named Pavo wearing dark glasses, smoking and bragging, “Dees Americans… they are so stupid… I get right in their computers.”
E*Trade. Brokerage growth is very slow, but these guys keep hammering out new financial services – like a debit card with bank and brokerage account access.
Major Applewhite, The University of Texas at Austin
To Scott “I was robbed on this one and it still stings“ Hodgins. The excerpt in question?
“So there we were, playing a little Yahtzee and quoting Henny Youngman one-liners when the three sweating Hell’s Angels burst into the dank attic, their brooding souls and piercing scowls even darker than the chafing leather of their ill-fitting chaps. Screaming for vengeance and jabbering about Che Guevara and the Halford twins, they rushed us like it was free Zima night at the Santa Monica Show Tunes Festival. I wheeled around and dove for the hidden fire escape, but Felicia, she wasn’t so lucky.…”