A Lean, Mean Machine
As the world grows more complex and unpredictable, adding IT management to a financial institution’s stack of responsibilities can present undue strain. Fortunately, having a true partner that understands an institution’s goals and expectations can distribute the load and help prepare for any eventuality.
When Verus Bank of Commerce was founded in Fort Collins, Colo., in 2011, it already had an underdog story, having formed from three separate banks after overcoming the recession and cross-company liability. Named for the Latin translation of “what is right and true,” Verus set its sights on doing right by its community. But it didn’t want to go the distance alone, and with a consolidated strategic vision, Verus saw an opportunity to explore an outsourced IT model instead of building an internal support team.
Proudly described by Verus Bank CFO Scott Horton as a lean and efficient operation, the Bank went on the hunt for a managed services provider that not only was focused on community banking, but also held security, network and systems infrastructure expertise in a highly regulated space. It found CSI.
CSI allows me to turn up additional remote support in the event we need to. I don’t have a fear that if the pandemic got worse, or we have another one, that we wouldn’t be able to operate remotely pretty efficiently.”
Chief Financial Officer,
Verus Bank of Commerce
Someone in Their Corner
Transitioning to an outsourced model, the Bank looked to CSI for end-user support and other business functions like systems support. Eventually, Verus complemented the partnership with CSI’s Virtual CIO (vCIO) services. As such, the Bank was able to keep in-house staff lean by relying on CSI’s experts for disaster recovery preparation, business continuity needs and IT lifecycle planning.
CSI’s strategic focus took IT off the Bank’s plate and empowered it to fully concentrate on its customers. According to Horton, the success of its outsourcing select services and trusted support to CSI were driving factors in Verus later expanding the partnership to include cloud infrastructure in 2016.
After diving into CSI’s cloud infrastructure as a service, “we realized that a cloud solution was truly valuable as our equipment started to age out. So, we made a transition to the full cloud services, so we didn’t have to worry about new equipment and backup facilities,” Horton says. “CSI provides them at a relatively low cost … we could never economically reproduce what’s provided by their cloud services.” The Bank’s network is now fully redundant, with no downtime pending an event like a natural disaster.
Sharing IT Successes
In addition to cloud services, Verus called on CSI to secure its perimeter, optimize network flow, comply with regulatory requirements and maximize employee bandwidth. Horton says of the partnership, “We’ve been very satisfied … I know they keep me informed when things are at the end of the lifecycle, and about regulatory recommendations.
“The support that CSI provides satisfies regulatory requirements and gives my board the ability to truly oversee operations. It also gives my management team the ability to make decisions without spending a lot of time and energy into those decisions.”
Scott Horton CFO, Verus Bank of Commerce
With that kind of empowerment, Verus has risen a cut above its peers. Since partnering with CSI, the bank has returned historic double-digit dividends for its shareholders. As of March 31, 2020, the Bank has an impressive efficiency ratio of 58.31%.
Training for a Remote Workforce
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding it, Verus was able to operate with more confidence than many of its community bank peers. After all, as an agile organization of just 17 employees and IT staff onsite, the branch could promote social distancing without moving to a full remote workforce.
After equipping its staff with laptops and VPN access to the Bank’s network, three employees have successfully worked remotely, with secure access to files and programs as if from the office. Horton has also moved to increase remote work capabilities if necessary, knowing CSI can support the bank. He says CSI offers the support and guidance to make offsite connections and work successful.
“CSI allows me to turn up additional remote support in the event we need to,” he says. “I don’t have a fear that if the pandemic got worse, or we have another one, that we wouldn’t be able to operate remotely pretty efficiently.”
Measuring Success in IT Management
Ultimately, whether remote or onsite, the team at Verus Bank of Commerce trusts CSI to take care of its IT needs, so they can focus on the business of banking. According to Horton, the true key performance metric of his partnership with CSI boils down to the time he spends on IT support. With CSI’s help, that time drives steadily downward.
“I’m a CFO and I don’t speak IT. I haven’t had to put a lot of effort into IT support because I’ve had the support of CSI and its vCIOs,” he says. “I have that confidence that CSI truly takes care of us and knows what our goals and expectations are and continues to support us as a company without me having to worry.”