As 1996 came to a close, Bisys Group officially took over the administration and distribution of $30 billion worth of mutual funds formerly handled by Furman Selz.
But the process took longer than the drop of the New Year's ball in Times Square.
"It's really difficult on New Year's Eve to flip a switch and say, 'O.K., no more Furman Selz,'" said David Huber, president of Bisys Fund Services, Columbus, Ohio.
The New York investment bank said in July that it would get out of the fund administration business. It agreed to recommend Bisys as a fund servicer to its clients.
About half of the $30 billion of assets Bisys received from the deal are from proprietary bank mutual funds. Mr. Huber said Bisys slowly began taking over servicing those and other funds back in October.
Bisys is no stranger to taking the reins from other service providers. The company grew to prominence in the fund administration business by acquiring its competitors, including Winsbury Co. and Concord Financial.
The transfers require everything from physically moving files to converting data to different reporting systems. Having been through this before, Bisys has well-developed conversion programs and detailed checklists to help make sure everything runs smoothly, Mr. Huber said.
Banks whose funds were involved with Bisys' latest transfer reported few problems.
"It was relatively smooth and pretty uneventful," said Michael Allen, who is senior vice president and senior trust officer at Trustmark National Bank. Both distribution and administration functions for the Jackson, Miss., bank's $900 million Performance Funds family were switched to Bisys in mid-November.
Trustmark considered signing on with about six other firms after Furman announced it was leaving the business, Mr. Allen said. Though such companies as SEI Corp. and Federated Investors had their charms, Bisys was "using systems we were comfortable with," he said.
Another attraction was that Bisys retained some of the Furman employees who had worked on Trustmark's account, Mr. Allen said.
Ultimately, he said, Bisys will be good for Trustmark. Bisys, which services a whopping $111 billion in bank fund assets, offers a 401(k) product and asset management account the bank plans to use. Bisys also helps with networking - formally introducing bank personnel to others in the business.
As at Trustmark, the first worry at Centura Banks Inc.'s when it heard Furman was quitting the business was about moving from trusted contacts to new ones, said Ed Hipp, president of Centura Securities.
To discuss the change, employees of the $6.7 billion Rocky Mount, N.C.- based bank met with Furman and Bisys representatives in New York in late October, Mr. Hipp said. The transition went through the next month.
"The relationship with Bisys is evolving," Mr. Hipp explained. "There were some bumps in the road, but we're pleased."
Mr. Hipp said the bumps were inconsequential. Other than finding a newly organized statement in their mailboxes, there was no inconvenience for shareholders of the $400 million Centura Funds, he said.