When Beneficial Corp. put itself on the block this year, it said the cost of new technology was forcing the sale.

Household Inc., which bought the company, is now investing in bringing Beneficial up to speed.

But the Prospect Heights, Ill.-based finance company is going to spend "significantly less" than the $100 million figure Beneficial had quoted, according to Craig Streem, Household's head of investor relations.

"Our loan system in our existing branches is already as good as it gets," Mr. Streem said. "We're going to take the loan management system we're using and roll it out into their branches."

Household is using origination software and a servicing system that were built internally. It has not disclosed what it will spend to put these systems in place in the over 1,000 Beneficial offices nationwide.

Nonetheless, Household's "superior" technology is expected to add to productivity at the Beneficial branches, according to a research report from Warburg Dillon Read analysts Thomas H. Hanley and James F. Mitchell.

"Technology support for Household's consumer finance subsidiary is unparalleled in the industry," the report states.

Household has made a $75 million investment in technology over the past five years and created a "fully integrated and paperless system," the report said.

Household's system also provides leads for its sales force by matching customer profiles with a propensity to buy certain products.

Household is also using three systems from Fair, Issac & Co. to help it manage credit risk.

It has been using Triad software, and it just purchased Fair, Issac's Search software and the StrategyWare decision support system.

"Currently, Triad is helping us do an excellent job at portfolio management in our business units," said Rich Peters, director of business analysis at Household. "With the addition of StrategyWare and Search, we can better manage account acquisition strategies."

Triad provides customer management software, behavior scorecards, and strategy consulting. The system provides increased flexibility and sharper segmentation for credit line management, collections, and fraud interception, Fair, Issac said.

Triad is used by 46 of the top 50 American bank card issuers, according to Fair, Issac, and is installed in more than 200 locations worldwide, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Denmark, Norway, Spain, and Portugal.

StategyWare allows credit analysts to test decision strategies, using a PC interface. It helps data managers decide, for example, how high a credit limit to give certain borrowers, said a Fair Issac spokeswoman.

Search software automatically pulls credit bureau reports and scores from the three major North American bureaus, and provides comprehensive and sophisticated analysis, Fair, Issac said.

Most banks are already using some sort of computerized decision making system, the Fair Issac's spokeswoman noted. But Household and American General are among the first finance companies to invest in such systems, she said.

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