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Banks Speeds Loans By Automating Systems

First National improves efficiency by replacing legacy systems and eliminating manual data entry
For a bank that has seen its assets jump 36% since 2002, entering loan information manually is far from efficient. To simplify the loan-origination process, First National Bank and Trust, a financial services company with $592 million in assets, decided to replace its legacy lending system.

"From an efficiency standpoint, entering every loan manually was cumbersome and time-consuming," says Mike Cuccinelli, First National's operations manager. Manual inputting also increased the risk of inconsistencies and duplicate records.

The bank began looking for a new system in late 2003, researching offerings from about 16 vendors. In the process, the concept of "dynamic documents" came up, Cuccinelli says.

As someone inputs a loan into a system with dynamic document capability, the system is intelligent enough to adapt the loan documents based on factors such as the type of loan, collateral, borrowers, and guarantors, Cuccinelli says. Finding an application that possessed these capabilities became key.

Based in part on the vendor's dynamic document capabilities, the bank selected Fiserv's easyLender suite of loan-origination software. The bank liked the list of available documents and the way easyLender interfaced with its core processing systems from Information Technology, a unit of Fiserv. "There are a lot of automatic interfaces between easyLender and our [Information Technology] core systems," Cuccinelli says. "We get a lot of automatic loading from one to the other, which saves us a lot of time."

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The bank installed the software on two new Compaq servers from Hewlett-Packard running Microsoft Windows Server 2003, and EasyLender went live in First National's mortgage area in January 2005. To prepare, Fiserv provided five days of hands-on, classroom-type training, Cuccinelli says. First National also established an in-house conversion team. "There's a mapping process that takes place," Cuccinelli says. "It is meticulous, but not highly technical. It really isn't that hard, as far as conversions go."

The technology has yielded benefits: First National saves an average of 12 minutes processing each loan. "Our volume has probably increased by 25% to 30% in the past year and a half," he says. "We purchased a couple of branches, and we absorbed that increased volume in loan operations without adding to the staff."

When an existing customer applies for a loan, the information is transferred to easyLender, which populates the appropriate forms with the customer data. "Before, we had to prepare the loans document by document, typing each individually," Cuccinelli says. "Now, all of that is done automatically."

The bank now uses the technology for home equity, commercial, and consumer installment loans and may expand it to other areas. Fiserv plans to create partnerships with title companies, so loan packages can be shared more easily with them, Cuccinelli says. That would more tightly integrate the electronic flow of information, saving First National even more time.