Some thrifts are now looking at their vendors with new eyes.
In an effort to further cut costs, some thrifts -- especially smaller ones -- are not just settling for the old outsourcing products. Rather, they are demanding that their vendors provide them with new services..
"There is good sense to it," said Daniel Rothstein, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Provident Savings Bank in Montebello, N.Y.
"If you need to compete with the big boys, the big boys usually have a price advantage over you. The low-cost provider is going to win."
The entire home loan servicing process at Tucker (Ga.) Federal Savings and Loan is now under discussion. The thrift will spend the next six months reevaluating its servicing and its vendors, said Jodi M. Lackey, a vice president.
Tucker currently uses AT&T Global Information Solutions to help it service its 'residential loans.
But Ms. Lackey said Tucker would reconsider its relationship with its servicing vendors. It will consider banding together with other lenders to get a servicing discount.
Tucker has not yet determined which banks it will approach to create such a servicing consortium.
There are also indications that other small thrifts are servicing loans on behalf of even smaller institutions, according to an official of the Savings and Community Bankers of America.
AT&T helps banks find new ways to service their loans. minique Littaye, an AT&T director of worldwide marketing for the financial industry, said that competition was spurring many banks to demand more services from their vendors -- even if those services are cutting edge.
"The competition is going to increase because it will provide the opportunity for even smaller banks to get this technology," he said.
Provident is demanding -- and paying more for -- more elaborate services from such vendors as Connecticut On-line Computer Center, Avon. The company, which already was doing all of Provident's electronic data processing, now also provides individualized information on customers.
"You are now saying you have to do more and you are willing to pay for it because there is a market that is willing to pay me for the additional service," Mr. Rothstein said.
That holds true for midsize thrifts. But even though small community thrifts might prefer to reap the savings from outsourcing, their customers do not take to it, said Alan R. Howell, vice president, First Federal Savings Bank of Elizabethtown, Ky.
Our "customers seem to like keeping it in-house a lot better," he said.
Many banking institutions use vendors to process the tax data for their portfolio loans. Companies like American Realty Tax Services Inc., Vienna, Va., can even out the highs and lows of yearly tax filing, said Joseph A. Manelski, president and chief executive.
Real Estate Services Inc. does the same kind of processing work. But it's a luxury product it offers that has bankers going gaga, said Lori D. Nelson, an executive at the Chicago company.
Real Estate Services tracks delinquency filings around the country for banks and thrifts. It's a preventive measure against foreclosures that the financial institutions could do independently if they had the resources.
"Outsourcing has just become the buzzword of the '90s:" said Mr. Manelski.