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Connexus : Issue 39
38 Connexus 38 Connexus Technology D ave Chapman, the new chief information of ficer at Teachers Mutual Bank, plays guitar and skis, but he’s happy to admit that “at the end of the day, you’d have to label me an IT geek”. That’s just as well because his expertise in technology is crucial to the bank’s transition from a credit union. Chapman has previously had infor mation technology leader ship roles in insurance, cards and Big Four retail banking. He has come to Teacher s from Westpac where he was director of systems integration in its merger with St George. Teachers has 160,000 member s in New South Wales, Wester n Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. It has been growing at a “massive rate” of about 15 per cent annually for the past 10 years. “As inevitably happens in an environment of such rapid change and expansion, internal processes and systems sometimes str uggle to keep pace,” says Chapman. In unifying the processes and systems, he’s looking at IT suppor t for cost efficiencies and process improvement. “For example, I’ve seen a lot of what ERP [enterprise resource planning] systems can do for a company,” he says. “Procurement processes can flow into asset management, which can feed budgeting systems, which can populate general ledgers, and at the end of the line deliver integrated, holistic reporting dashboards for management across the board. “ We haven’t embraced this kind of technology here yet and it’s on my radar to address that situation.” He’s also using technology to deliver members the improved products and services expected when converting to a mutual bank. “Internally, that’s about things like data warehousing and business intelligence to mine our data properly and really under stand our member base so we can bring them what they want. “Externally, we’re talking mobile computing, near field communication technologies such as contactless pay ment, and business-linked social networking.” Standout challenges Chapman has identified several standout challenges in the mutual sector since arriving at Teachers earlier this year. “Compared with the Big Four banking sector, the first obvious one is availability of funds. While it’s not at all unusual to find project budgets in the tens of millions of dollars at the large banks, as mutuals we are more limited in that respect. We just don’t have that kind of money to throw at consultants to advise us or systems to enable us. “ Therefore a major challenge is to get the best possible tools at the best possible price. Wherever you look in the IT space, there’s a plethora of products and vendors looking to engage with us, so we have to navigate that sea carefully.” Chapman has seen many ‘best of breed’ solutions at both ends of the financial scale. “I know what they do and how they’re pitched,” he says, “s o, hopefully, I can help Teachers get to where we need to be without burning millions on the journey.” Another major challenge is vendor management. “ With all that weight behind them, vendors and consultants will go a long way to get the best they can to any one of the Big Four in the hope of securing a lucrative, long-ter m relationship. “ While they’re still interested in us, of course, I’ve found that, as individual voices in the mutual sector, we just don’t have the same punch, particularly for the larger vendors.” Dave Chapman has inside knowledge of what making changes is like at the big banks, which is why he’s so upbeat about his new role at a credit union. By CyNTHIA kARENA “Geek” with a mission PrOFIlE