Having gained a foothold in the big bank market through their Wiz product line, PCi Services of Boston has stepped out into the community banking market.

PCi’s line of software products, which help banks comply with Fair Lending laws, the Community Reinvestment Act and Home Mortgage Disclosure Act reporting, previously was targeted only toward large banks. However, the company last year formed a Community Bank Division and has since acquired software programs from three former competitors, most recently buying Medici Technology’s Strategic Marketer Software, which helps community banks analyze consumer information for marketing purposes. The software has been renamed Market Wiz.

The decision to delve into the community bank niche came as a result of a combination of confidence in its products as well as the need community banks have for new tools to compete against large banks, said Catherine Jones, vice president of public relations at PCi.

According to Jones, although the regulatory requirements of large versus small banks can differ, PCi is prepared. “We have the knowledge,” said Jones, adding that company staff includes former personnel from the Federal Reserve Board, a former examiner from the Office of the Comptroller of Currency and many from the banking industry representing both large and small banks.

The goal of the latest acquisition, completed this month, was “to offer more products outside the core products of lending,” said newly appointed executive vice president Bill Hasapidis, who heads the Market Wiz line of products. “This gets us into tools that are used by the marketing officer and the CFO Â… The Medici Technology acquisition was another piece of the puzzle in trying to build an array of services and products in covering the process chain in the community bank.”

“The marketing is definitely a new aspect for us. We’re very good at what we do as far as software goes, and what we want to do is put our programmers into the Medici software product to improve it,” said Jones.

New technology and services in all facets of the industry is helping many community banks deal with the tremendous regulatory issues they face, said Daniel J. Forte, president of the Massachusetts Bankers Association. “Because [people] wear multiple hats at a smaller bank they don’t have the [same] resources [as large banks],” he said.

There’s been a need for products and services in community banking in a variety of areas, not just marketing or compliance, said Forte. Besides software, Forte cites another resource, the MBA-sponsored Infinex, an independent organization owned by a group of banks which offers investment products and financial advising services to banks.

‘More Information’
The advent of online banking is another area in particular that is helping smaller banks compete, said Andrea Nardini, marketing officer for Middlesex Savings Bank of Natick. With assets of $2 billion, Middlesex can’t be termed “small” but compared to a behemoth like Fleet, said Nardini, the online services Middlesex offers helps. “[Online banking] is something that allows us to offer everything another bank is,” she said. It also allows 24-hour access to account information and location becomes less of a concern, she said.

First shipments of PCi’s newly acquired software, Market Wiz, occurred this month. Market Wiz is designed to help community banks which may have a smaller staff gain the same consumer market information a large bank is able to garner with many staffers available to them, according to Hasapidis.

“Tools like the Market Wiz enable a single person within the department to be up and using [the software] within a very short learning curve. It levels the playing field,” he said. A six-person department in a large bank may now be equivalent to a one-person department in a community bank in terms of the ability to analyze demographic, customer and other types of information with the software, he said.

“It’s really stretching our reach outside compliance and into other areas of the bank,” he said. “It will help the senior-level marketing team better understand their customers.”

According to Hasapidis, banks of all sizes are struggling against the loss of customers. He maintains the software will enable them to analyze how to attract customers and how to allocate marketing dollars. This is accomplished through a compilation of data available in the public domain, he said.

“It becomes a very powerful tool as you look at these things over time. [You ask] have we gained market share, has our competitor gained? We can guess what the competitor may have done but we certainly know what we’ve done,” to gain market share, said Hasapidis.

“It’s more information about our customers than we’ve ever been able to obtain,” said Nardini of Market Wiz.

Before such software was available, Nardini said there was no efficient way to get the information they wanted about their customers. “We did try to work with other companies; nothing was really successful,” she said. “We’d work with the internal IS department to find out about our customers but there really wasn’t an easy way to extract the information.”

PCi Services was founded in 1990 and provides software to the financial services industry. The Wiz line of products includes CRA, HMDA and Fair Lending laws compliance software. As part of the development of its Community Bank Division, PCi also acquired software from former competitors Tactician Corp. of Andover and Sheshunoff Information Services of Austin, Texas, last year.

According to Jones, the pricing for Market Wiz varies according to a number of factors including institution size, number of retail and wholesale accounts, branch network size, and frequency with which banks request information updates.

This month, PCi completed the acquisition of Lebanon, N.H.-based Medici Technology’s software business, moving personnel from the New Hampshire location into the offices in Boston.

Local Firm Carving Niche With Small-Bank Software

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 4 min