A new platform for costs optimisation

Frankfurt, 9 January 2002: when the markets were still booming, the Frankfurter Gontard & MetallBank began to replace part of its old systems by PABA/Q and BSP TRADE. A "crazy business, with volumes four to five times as high as today", remembers member of the managing board Manfred Dahmen, “made it extremely difficult to assign employees to the project. However about one year later the new systems were switched punctually into live production. Now, since the markets became more difficult than ever, Dahmen sees above all a real potential in the newly created system, indeed "the platform for urgently necessary costs optimisation".

Through the fusion of both banks Heinrich Gontard & Co. AG and MetallBank GmbH in 1999, a complex IT landscape had emerged and it had to be simplified. Searching for new solutions to replace BWS and Fiducia systems in the case of Gontard, and Kordoba on the MetallBank side, the merged bank defined high requirements: not only functionality-depth and flexibility were required but above all the support of "specific requirements".

Influence specific developments

"We therefore searched ", stresses Manfred Dahmen, "a software partner on which we could have enough influence to develop our specific requirements." The background: the new solutions should be flexible enough to easily adapt to market changes and support all areas of the widely diversified business activities: from investment to private banking through commercial business. Simultaneously they should have interfaces to existing and future systems, among others: statutory reporting, product and segmental reporting, payments and risk management.

Large sellers did not qualify because of "lacking flexibility" and as far as small software-houses are concerned, according to Manfred Dahmen, they indeed appeared "highly dynamic and innovative", however, the risks seemed high with regard to the future. Therefore, the Gontard & MetallBank decided for the "middle-sized" software-houses. Corresponding to the main criteria "economical solidity", "exhaustive securities tools" and "all-in solution from if possible one supplier", says bank executive Dahmen, "quite a small number" qualified.

Decision in favour of ACTIS.BSP

After a careful selection process, the bank chose the networked solutions of ACTIS.BSP. PABA/Q was evaluated as a "solid cash system" with one respectable user community and an equally sound enterprise in the background, while BSP TRADE convinced in particular by its depth of functionality, interface concept and flexibility.

The implementation ran in three stages and on-time - in spite of staff bottlenecks and difficulties with the data take-over - by April 1st (replacing old Gontard systems), May 15th (own dealing on BSP TRADE) and June 1st, 2001 (replacing old MetallBank on the common platform). While networking the shared hardware systems IBM host, AS/400 and Sun could be implemented fast and smoothly, data migration proved to be the "biggest challenge", in particular from the Kordoba system. It was, Manfred Dahmen underlines, difficult but yet "acceptable", if compared with his previous experience with another software-house.

Despite a "constant fight against time pressure and staff restrictions", the new system architecture is all together "successful”, summarises bank executive Dahmen, which is confirmed by the head of IT Juergen Baeder and Jochen Ober responsible in particular for the implementation of BSP TRADE. Despite perceptible kick-off issues with the address-files take-over and the control of automatic teller machines, final analysis shows that a simplified global system was realised says Manfred Dahmen that "runs stable with a high degree of automation”. As example Dahmen quotes at first the XETRA interface: “Here we do not need entering anything, there are no manual transactions any longer", he declares satisfied.

With the exception of an internal development for the corporate and private customers business, the overall system only consists of standardised products. The Gontard & MetallBank delegated the IT responsibility to one general supplier, namely T-Systems in Frankfurt, a joint venture enterprise of Deutsche Telekom and DaimlerChrysler (debis).

Portfolio Management and Calculation Tool

An IT team of eight staff works at the Gontard & MetallBank in order to further model the new system environment. To their tasks belongs above all connecting to the portfolio management system PM1 which plays from business year 2001/2002 an essential strategic role. Among other things, assets managers should be convinced by the benefits but also existing clients who do not yet have a custody account are considered as a high prospective potential by the bank. Together with PABA/Q and BSP TRADE - both systems provide interfaces to PM1 - a "first-class service quality" can be built up expects Manfred Dahmen.

Moreover the CS 4 ++ calculation tool is implemented for product and segment controlling, an important element of the targeted costs optimisation. PABA/Q and BSP TRADE supply CS 4 ++ with the required data via standard interfaces.
According to Manfred Dahmen, it depends on his bank itself to make use of the "big potential" offered by the new systems - both with regard to cost reduction and "winning new business without additional costs". The first requirement is therefore that the approximately 200 employees working with the systems get accustomed to all new functionality. "We are", Manfred Dahmen declares optimistically, "well prepared for the next exchange boom!"

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