In an attempt to create a sales culture, National Bank of Canada is installing a platform automation system in all of its branches.

The Montreal-based institution, with assets of $34 billion, is in the midst of deploying Teller/Platform Plus, a client/server software system from Software Dynamics Inc. The system will replace the bank's dumb- terminal environment.

Bank officials believe the new system will improve financial performance by automating manual and redundant functions and by improving cross- selling.

The bank has invested several million dollars on hardware and software and has already converted 138 of 654 branches to the system. The implementation is expected to be completed by mid-1997.

The decision to install the Plus system came after focus groups were conducted with employees and customers, in which both expressed the desire to cut down the time to open accounts and receive loan approvals.

The system meets these requirements by eliminating paper and workflow redundancies, according to Pat Minicucci, a vice president at National Bank of Canada. It also allows the bank to customize individual screens, fields, and forms.

As a result, National Bank of Canada branches with Plus already installed report 38% faster loan originations and 60% faster closings, bank officials say.

The system also allows the bank to be more sales oriented, and improves representatives' relationships with customers, said Mr. Minicucci.

"The flexibility of Plus enables our sales force to guide customers through the various products and services offered by our bank," he said.

"Customers can immediately choose different scenarios on investment and loan products and see the impact of amortization on different loan rates and terms."

For its commercial franchise, the bank also plans to introduce a scoring model that will simplify the processing of loans and reduce turnaround times, Mr. Minicucci said.

Chatsworth, Calif.-based SDI has more than 450 financial institution customers for its Teller/Platform Plus system, including First Nationwide Bank, Great Western Financial Corp., and Banc One Corp.

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