COCC, Avon

North Shore Trust and Savings of Waukegan, Ill., is up and running on Avon-based COCC’s next-generation data processing systems. The technology conversion has increased efficiency and expanded customer services for the $235 million community bank, according to officials.

“COCC took us from a legacy system to a state-of-the-art open system that is moving us ahead of the competition,” said Stephen G. Lear, president and chief executive officer of North Shore Trust and Savings. “COCC’s enthusiasm and cooperative ownership structure convinced us that we had found a true technology partner. The company’s support through the conversion process and beyond have verified our decision.”

North Shore Trust and Savings has deep roots on the shores of Lake Michigan north of Chicago. Opening as a family operation in 1921, the bank quickly became an active real estate lender in Waukegan, a position it retains today by promoting homeownership. With older customers moving inland and younger, diverse groups taking residence in Waukegan, the bank has broadened its product mix to attract the changing demographic.

“We are using COCC’s technology to work more efficiently and effectively,” Lear explained. “Among the many improvements now in place are image exchange, expanded online banking services, and more sophisticated security features to prevent fraud and identity theft. We brought all that functionality under one umbrella with COCC.”

The bank has found efficiencies throughout its operation, from faster teller balancing to quicker funds availability for deposited checks.

“COCC has also been a real help in automating the increasingly complex tasks involved in regulatory compliance,” said Lear. “I don’t have to worry about monitoring Internet traffic or blocking hazardous Web sites – it’s done automatically along with OFAC screening. It’s a real help for our operation.”

North Shore’s decision is part of a growing trend among U.S. financial institutions that are seeing the need to upgrade their core processing technology. A new report by the Aite Group describes the consequences for U.S. banks that have reached a critical point for core system replacement.

“These banks are paying high maintenance costs, and they suffer from slow product launches and an inability to easily integrate third-party applications or access information for compliance to new regulations,” said the report’s author, Christine Barry, research director at Aite.

For North Shore, the technology factor was complemented by COCC’s mutual ownership structure.

“We wanted the most advanced technology from a partner who operates like we do – as a mutual,” said Lear. “We are a mutual with the same cooperative structure that COCC has. That was a significant factor in our decision. The ability to work together and know that we’re on the same team means a great deal to North Shore Trust and Savings. When we need something, COCC responds.”

“We are pleased that North Shore Trust and Savings appreciated our solid record of helping our clients meet their strategic goals,” said COCC President and Chief Executive Officer Richard A. Leone. “Offering top technology choices is only the first step in COCC’s strategy of moving the industry forward. Top-notch support from a company owned by its clients is the critical ingredient in delivering the full impact of today’s technology.”

PSB Reports Income

Putnam-based PSB Holdings, the holding company for Putnam Savings Bank, reported net income of $2.1 million, or 31 cents per basic share and 30 cents per diluted share, for the 12 months ended June 30, 2006. That figure is up from its net income of $1.3 million for the 12 months ended June 30, 2005, which included a one-time expense of $1.2 million to establish and fund the new Putnam Savings Foundation.

Excluding the charge for the charitable foundation, net income would have been $2.1 million for the 12 months ended June 30, 2005, and the increase in net income for the 12 months ended June 30, 2006, would have been $34,000, or 1.6 percent. Officials said because the formation of the company was completed on Oct. 4, 2004, per-share data for the 12 months ended June 30, 2005, is not meaningful and therefore is not presented.