BankAmerica Corp. has formed an independent subsidiary to develop object-oriented computing tools.
The spinoff, called Concorde Solutions Inc., is part of the bank's experimentation with placing technology developers in entrepreneurial-style environments. It is the only BankAmerica technology unit to be spun off in this fashion, but more could follow.
"If you want to keep the best people long term, you've got to be able to figure out how to motivate them long term," said Isaac Applbaum, president of Concorde Solutions, based in Concord, Calif.
To attract talent that might otherwise be put off by the stuffy, bureaucratic image of banks, the company gives the unit autonomy in setting employee rules and conducting business.
The most obvious manifestations of Concorde's independence may be the dress and work schedules of its employees. The staff is permitted to dress casually and to work flexible hours.
The unit also has some freedom in the way it conducts business - decisions on purchases, for example.
"If there's a tool that we want to bring in really quickly, I just go out and buy it," said Mr. Applbaum.
"We feel it is important for the bank to be a leader in its development, and that's why we've created Concorde Solutions," said Martin A. Stein, vice chairman and head technologist at BankAmerica.
The object programming that is Concorde's bread-and-butter is one of the hottest areas in bank technology right now, but few banks develop their own, experts said.
In object programming, software is reduced into reusable blocks of code - known as objects - that can be combined easily to create new applications or modify existing ones.
About 75% of the objects developed by Concorde are financial-specific. Initially the objects are for BankAmerica's use only, but later on Concorde may sell its objects to others.
The BankAmerica spinoff "is a good idea. A lot of banks are going to be looking for specific classes of objects, and BofA might be able to fill their needs," said Karen Boucher, a market analyst at Standish Group in Dennis, Mass.