What to Look for In a Core Evaluation Consultant

A bank’s core processing system is one of the largest single capital outlays for financial institutions and should not be a purchase decision that’s made overnight. Banks’ executive teams need to start looking for new processors 18-24 months before their current contract expires. Given the price point for new systems, even companies satisfied with their current vendor are conducting extensive due diligence before deciding whether or not to renew or move to a new provider. This is an exhaustive, time-consuming process, and unless your bank has all the requisite skills in-house, you’re likely to outsource the management of the many required tasks.

Here are attributes you should look for in a core consulting provider:

An Objective Position

Your core processing consultant should take a neutral position when it comes to vendors, instead of holding predetermined notions of what vendor you should use. Unfortunately, many consultants have preset notions surrounding which vendors you should choose. A better approach is to identify your specific needs through discussion and interviews. Once the consultant understands your pain points and long-term business strategy, they are more likely to find a vendor to meet your needs. Look for a consultant with no affiliations to potential vendors and ask them how many different vendors and products they have recommended to other clients. This will ensure whether or not the consultant conducts an objective assessment process.

Expertise in Core Banking Applications

Banks typically work with a core processing vendor for 10 to 15 years. Finding a new vendor is complex, and the more experience your consultant has with core banking applications, the better. Choose a core consulting advisor with enterprise software experience who understands the intricacies of the banking environment. This will provide the resources that can help your organization identify your requirements and provide guidance on finding and implement the correct solutions.

A Well-Developed Process

Performing the due diligence required to select a new core processing vendor isn’t a task for just any project manager. To secure expertise in areas where you need it most, select a business partner with a well-developed process comprising formal planning, project management, identification, and implementation of core banking applications.

Extensive RFP Experience

Appoint someone with extensive experience in managing the RFP (Request for Proposal) process. Make sure they are capable of:

  • Developing required documentation and sending it to vendors with the right capabilities
  • Reviewing and scoring responses according to predetermined weightings
  • Presenting the financial institution’s project team with appropriate options
  • Conducting thorough due diligence to identify two or three vendors to make presentations onsite to your leadership
  • Reviewing detailed pricing and proposals revisions, re-scoring, and making appropriate recommendations

Once a vendor is selected, your consultant should also be equipped to handle contract negotiations with the vendor on your behalf.

Knowledge of Ancillary Systems

Every financial institution is different, and that means different approaches and different ancillary services exist. If you have a specific need for mortgage processing, for example, and the best option for you is a specific ancillary system, then your consultant should be prepared to direct you accordingly.

Finding the right core consulting professional is challenging, but if you contract a professional firm with prior enterprise application experience in banking, you’ll have a seamless transition to your new system.