Avon-based financial technology provider COCC, whose headquarters are shown above, is gaining a national presence through an agreement with Newburyport, Mass.-based Darling Consulting Group.

In an effort to boost its product portfolio, one Connecticut-based financial technology provider will simultaneously expand its national footprint.

Avon-based COCC, a provider of next-generation financial technology, has reached an agreement with Newburyport, Mass.-based Darling Consulting Group to provide a complete range of asset/liability software and consulting services to community financial institutions nationwide.

Under the terms of the agreement, COCC will install a custom version of DCG’s software – called BASIS – and then train clients in its use and support clients thereafter. DCG will provide consulting services to COCC clients that cover the complete range of financial management issues.

Bob Bessel, spokesman for COCC, explained that DCG Chief Executive Officer George K. Darling was for many years “the dean of asset liability management. Darling has been the gold standard,” he said. Now with a team of more than 60 consultants and technicians, Darling’s company has developed a nationally marketed software package for asset liability management. Along with the software, the firm delivers consulting, engaging with banks to guide employees, officers and board members through the process.

“We at COCC provide the general ledger, the accounts payable, fixed assets and so forth, and we also have an investments package linked to that core software and a number of other reporting services,” said Bessel. “We’ve offered an asset liability system for many years but we wanted to get this truly A-level asset liability software from these folks. We also wanted the same level of service – that hands-on approach – and that’s why we liked [DCG], because that’s what they do.”

Bessel explained that from a production/alliance standpoint, the partnership was based around the idea of adding a top-of-the-line asset liability management program to COCC’s core services. The subtext of the partnership, however, is the fact that DCG markets its software and services nationwide, instantly giving COCC a national presence.

Getting ‘Traction’

Since its beginning, COCC has been a core shop, providing account processing to banks. If a bank wanted check processing, network management or electronic banking, it could pay extra for those services outside the core. Last year, a deal struck with Liberty Bank marked COCC’s first sale of check processing to a non-core customer.

“We have this whole group of ancillary products to we can sell,” said Bessel. “So now you don’t have to have core to love COCC. This deal with Darling [Consulting Group] gives us an even broader footprint market-wise. Because of the nature of the package and of [DCG], we can market this nationwide.”

COCC set its eyes outside of New England this past year when it spread into New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Its first Ohio customer recently signed on, with three or four waiting in the wings.

“We’re starting to get some traction out there,” said Bessel, who was quick to point out that COCC’s core business won’t be expanded beyond those states, and the national marketing campaign only includes ancillary products.

“Our core business requires a lot of folks with feet on the ground able to get out to the customers and handle their concerns. We train them, consult with them, support them face to face. We do want to expand, but we don’t want to be stupid about it,” he said.

According to Bessel, rapidly changing financial markets plus new regulatory requirements have expanded the need for next-generation financial management systems and consulting support.

“Financial institutions need advanced information as well as training and analytical support to develop their strategic directions,” said COCC President and Chief Executive Officer Richard A. Leone. “The COCC-DCG alliance delivers all of these services at a level unsurpassed by any technology provider.”

As a result of the COCC-Darling Consulting alliance, clients will be able to use COCC’s Oracle-based Financial Management system with a custom version of BASIS, DCG’s top-ranked asset/liability management system. Clients also will gain access to DCG’s high-profile, high-level consulting and education services. COCC clients will receive in-depth support from the company’s support staff, who will be thoroughly trained in the BASIS model as well as the full range of financial management systems.

“We are pleased to partner with COCC, a company which has cultivated the strongest reputation for service in the region,” said Darling, DCG’s chief executive. “With recent trends such as non-maturity deposit growth and increased uncertainty about future deposit retention, the need for thorough, tested analysis techniques has never been greater. We look forward to providing the best in financial management services to COCC’s expanding market.”

The Financial Management Suite with DCG’s asset/liability software and consulting services will be marketed nationwide as part of COCC’s expanding market initiative for ancillary products. COCC now offers several ancillary products to core and non-core clients. In addition to the Financial Management Suite, the products cover areas such as electronic banking, check imaging, network management and Internet connectivity.

The COCC version of the BASIS asset/liability model offers customized screens and tailored functionality to deliver a highly-effective solution for community financial institutions.

“We used the same approach with Oracle Financials,” said Linda Stahl, assistant vice president and manager of COCC’s Ancillary Products Group. “We carefully analyzed the software, compared it with the needs of our community banking clients and then tailored the software to meet those needs.”

COCC also streamlined the flow of financial information to the BASIS model.

“We not only provide general ledger information to the model, but loan, deposit, and investment information as well,” Stahl said. “Because COCC provides end-to-end processing and all the information used in the model, we are able to support our clients through every aspect of the asset/liability process.”

Clients utilizing the DCG services will automatically receive a copy of that company’s monthly newsletter, the DCG Bulletin, which provides information, commentary and suggestions for addressing strategic financial management issues and concerns. Clients also may take advantage of the full range of DCG advisory services, delivered by experts who are experienced at moving the asset/liability management process beyond budgeting and regulatory compliance to developing meaningful contributions to overall profitability.

“No other company provides anything close to Darling Consulting Group’s in-depth training and ongoing consulting support,” said Leone. “And no other financial management system vendor comes close to the quality of COCC’s Oracle-based Financial Management solutions tailored to the needs of community financial institutions. By combining DCG with COCC and Oracle, we have an unbeatable combination of financial management services.”

Established in 1967, COCC is a mutually owned outsourcing and software development company that provides complete enterprise processing solutions for community banks and credit unions throughout the Northeastern United States. Major product areas include relational core processing, check imaging, electronic banking, financial management, CRM/data mining, network management, custom reporting and disaster recovery.

Darling Consulting Group is a balance sheet management systems and services provider for community financial institutions throughout the United States. It is staffed with former banking officers, regulators, accountants, investment managers and financial modeling specialists, which is part of the reason officials believe DCG fits well with COCC and its clients. DCG’s professional staff provides expertise and depth of knowledge in all areas of balance sheet management and offers a range of programs and services designed to support bank-planning efforts and help manage regulatory expectations for community financial institutions.