New Brunswick, N.J.-based Magyar Bank wanted a single system that could help the community thrift more easily open new accounts and be immediately compliant with know-your-customer and other reporting regulations. The platform also had to support the bank's commercial and retail businesses and provide electronic statements.

So about a year before Magyar's contract came due on its legacy core banking system, the $528 million-assets bank began to research vendor options. Magyar aimed to streamline operations to boost its service as well as safety and soundness.

Management formed a six-person technology committee comprised of staff from different areas of the bank to research and shortlist vendors, and to analyze difficulties the bank was having with its old platform to determine more precisely how these problems might be fixed by new solutions. Six vendor names were eventually whittled down to three contenders, which included the bank's incumbent core provider.

However, based on demos, onsite visits, good references from other banks and optimal communications between staffs, Magyar chose Fiserv's Cleartouch for hosted core banking. The bank also selected a bevy of other Fiserv solutions in the deal, including Director for electronic content management; Branch Source Capture and Merchant Source Capture for remote deposits; AML Manager for risk management; the Fiserv Clearing Network for image exchange; Relationship Pricing for relationship management; eStatements for electronic document delivery; and Fiserv's item processing solutions. The bank was already using CheckFree RXP for bill payment. Magyar converted to Fiserv's Cleartouch core on June 8.

"We really wanted somebody who could integrate all the various processes that revolve around general safety and soundness," says John Fitzgerald, president and CEO of Magyar Bank. "We were looking for an integrated system rather than having customer service reps go through a number of steps to open up an account."

Making compliance more efficient by integrating the tasks involved more directly into the account opening process was a focus for the bank. "For us to comply with various BSA regulations involving suspicious activity and currency transaction reporting, the accuracy of that information is paramount right now," Fitzgerald says. "The less our employees have to actually input data, the better the integrity of our data will be. This lets us input customer information one time on one system as opposed to having to input customer information multiple times on various systems," Fitzgerald adds. "So with Cleartouch we're able to populate all those other queries at the same time that we're just gathering account opening information. We basically cut in half the time it would take us to gather the information in the account opening process."

One near-term result of the conversion is that Magyar has 600 customers now receiving electronic statements by email after the bank rolled out in July a concerted effort to promote Fiserv's eStatements. "That's a huge savings for us," Fitzgerald says. "It also provides us another way to market to customers rather than stuffing an envelope with material that typically gets ignored."

Training was key to ensuring the conversion went smoothly and that the new systems are optimally used. "It was important that we had a committee of employees from all levels of the bank that were involved, because it really provided buy-in for the new system," Fitzgerald says. "We had people from our loan operations and our deposit operations departments help train throughout the bank, being that those are the two areas that this conversion probably affected most."

Post-conversion, "mobile banking is on the horizon for us now, because of the integration available with the Fiserv system," Fitzgerald says.

Magyar has turned several important corners recently. The bank has reported profitable quarters since posting a net loss of $249,000 for its fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2011. This March, the bank announced that the FDIC and the New Jersey Department of Banking had removed a consent order issued in April 2010 that had required Magyar to reduce its exposure to loans considered risky and to boost capital. The regulatory order was issued after the bank suffered a $6.1 million loss for fiscal year 2009 due primarily to poor loan performance, and after the bank's former CEO resigned in December that year. Part of the order required Magyar to establish a compliance committee and "correct and prevent all unsafe or unsound banking practices, violations of law and regulations, and contraventions of federal banking agency policies, procedures and guidelines as discussed in applicable reports and take all steps necessary to ensure future compliance."




BANK: Magyar Bank

PROBLEM: Tasks that should be easy, like opening new accounts and emailing statements, were difficult to accomplish using a legacy core system.

SOLUTION: Convert to a new core system and suite of services by the same provider.