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Important Lessons Learned After 2 Years in Banking: Cores

Some would say I’m new to the banking industry—and they would be right. Because of that, I get asked pretty often about my perspective as an outsider looking in. Well I’m two years in, and it seems like as good of a time as any to look back at how I started with Quontic, and how we’ve been able to kickstart innovation by reframing our thinking, and moving on from some of the underlying assumptions that the banking industry seems to cling to. This is part three.

Let’s get realistic about core banking systems. While there are some areas where cores work beautifully, the truth is that there are areas where they just don’t. Our job is to dance that line of knowing when “good enough” is actually good enough, and when we need to rethink it.

Having looked at all the major cores and their offerings, from what I’ve seen is that for almost any community bank, the cores out there are “good enough,” short of these 3 areas:

  • Account opening technology
  • CRM
  • Data

I’m going to be bold and say it: I have not seen a core that offers great account opening technology.

Think about it: if you want to be a digital bank, account opening is your front door. In fact, it’s your front door and your lobby. And if we’re talking 8, 9, even 10 minutes to open an account, and it’s not beautiful on mobile? Forget it. That’s the equivalent of you opening your most impressive branch… and the entryway has a cracked door, missing tiles, and peeling paint.

When Quontic first launched, admittedly we just used our core’s offering for account openings. And we’d get complaints about that, but also the online experience, mobile experience, and more. Since that first negative account opening experience, customers just assumed it was all bad (and did not have any hesitation in letting us know).

But then we changed our account signup process. We changed only the very first experience but not the online and mobile interfaces. And guess what? No more complaints.

It’s your account opening technology that sets the tone for the rest of the relationship. Make that first experience great and watch what happens.

Next, customer relationship management technology.

Ok, yes, you need a CRM. You need the ability to maintain a relationship with a lead or a customer. It can be the most basic functionality, just email. But don’t get caught up trying to bring in all this data about your customer if you’re not going to actually use it for anything.

I’ve seen very few core CRMs that are beautiful and do a good job. But CRM technology is how you know who your customer is. The functionality of a CRM should, in an instant, be equivalent to calling up one of your business development managers at a branch and asking them for intel on 200 customers.

Finally, data.

“Easy” and “helpful” are not words I’d use to describe any core’s data visualization or data analysis. But, there are solutions out there, some of which are much better and cheaper. For example, Power BI by Microsoft gets you automated reports and predictive data. Do that, and you’ll have the ability to turn that data into something that is focused and actionable. But take it from me—It’s just not likely to happen within your core.

Oh, you thought I wouldn’t tie in one of Quontic’s core values to drive my point home? Wrong.

Progress, not perfection. Accept that you can’t solve everything.

You can pivot and work ONLY with fintechs, but that would be seeking perfection (not to mention, it would be very expensive). You can go with all core, but then you wouldn’t be making progress.

Find the right partners in these three areas. Your core is good for everything else, but remember you don’t have to settle with your core just because you think you should. You’ve got to design your own equation in order to decide what’s “good enough” and what to build better.

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