Peter Setaro will be the first to admit that starting a bank off "right" with a paperless system has been no walk in the park.

"There were some pains at the very beginning," says Setaro, the chief information officer at First National Bank of the Gulf Coast in Naples, Fla. Still, the managers "knew we needed to have the right technology to get out of what we experienced in the past with the growing pains" of manually transferring information statewide.

First National's management decided two years ago to jump-start the $396 million-asset bank like it was a multibillion-dollar operation, with virtual imaging and a seamless archive and core platform systems. Since the bank's managers did not have to replace old systems, the process seemed easy to implement. While the systems were new, the bankers' mindsets were not.

"We've got seasoned lenders who have been in business 30 to 40 years and they are use to shuffling papers . . . and they wanted to keep that paper close by," Setaro says. "That group needed to be pushed a little bit."

First National did not offer cabinets to store papers but they did offer extensive training for their new system. "All of a sudden, the folks who were hesitant to change; they're actually giving suggestion to enhancements of the system," he says.

Convincing customers to stay paperless through its automatic electronic statement enrollment has been a smoother process, with about 60% of First National's customers on board.

First National uses several technology products through Jack Henry & Associates to virtually upload images and files to both its archive and core system seamlessly. The bank has also lowered the amount of servers by 78%, to seven.

Setaro says that the young company, which has yet to reach profitability, is working on better efficiencies after implementing a large-scale system. "We never make a decision based on how much it costs or what return on investment is," he says. "We really look under the covers and say ... how seamless is this and will it enhance the customer experience without driving our support system up."

About 30% of First Nationals total staff can work remotely using a laptop or phone to securely view a file. They are now testing tablet applications that would allow employees to access files on their tablets.

"I can't tell you how many times a loan officer has said, 'If I hadn't had phone or remote access, this customer would have missed their closing date or had issues related to the closing process," Setaro says. "The customers are absolutely amazed at how quickly we can turn around a situation for them."