Integrating Legacy Systems in the Face of a Merger or Acquisition

Oct 18, 2021

2021 has seen unprecedented growth in the M&A space. According to a September analysis by MarketWatch, “S&P Global Market Intelligence now projects $63.3 billion in bank mergers in 2021, up from $27.8 billion in 2020 and $55 billion in 2019.” With over $54 billion in deals through September alone, we are on pace for the biggest M&A year since the massive sell-off in the banking space of 2008.¹

When multiple Financial Institutions (FIs) join forces together, how do they integrate their existing systems so that they can move into the future with unity? And what if the individual institutions were already saddled with dated legacy systems that were creating roadblocks to growth? It’s an important challenge, we’ve found – and FIs that fail to overcome obstacles to data acquisition, integrations, and customization can find it hard to deliver on customer expectations, leading to attrition and missed acquisition opportunity.

Big, Burly and Potentially Buried

At one point, all legacy systems were shiny, new and perfectly suited to the tasks of their respective institutions. But over time these systems required more customization. Someone added a few lines of code here – then a few more there – and then more still. Today, a core system may have tens, hundreds, or even thousands of lines of custom code, rendering it rigid and inflexible. Combine this with the legacy systems from your newly acquired bank, and it can feel like you’ve got your back against a wall.

Integrating changes across your systems might take 6 months or longer, delaying your time to deployment. That puts you well behind in the race to make it to market, and you can find yourself in a seemingly endless loop of playing catch-up or simply making due with what you have.

One element that may stand out as particularly frustrating is the challenge of integration. When you want to enhance a credit decisioning or fraud risk workflow with a new data provider or alternative credit score, you may be facing an uphill battle to allocate the time and resources to get it done.

If hard-coding integrations into multiple legacy systems is one of the things slowing you down as you plan your strategic growth, you’re not alone. Plenty of banks find themselves in this position post-merger. But if you’re not careful, piling on independent customizations to siloed platforms can lead to an even more unwieldy situation. This brutal cycle will only slow you down, opening doors for faster and more nimble competitors to take potential business away from you.

Tying Together Your Legacy Systems

If some of your systems are still suited to their core functionality and you choose not to rip and replace, your company can benefit greatly by supplementing your legacy systems with a nimble, flexible decisioning engine. Zoot frequently works with our customers to connect their disparate systems quickly and easily – whether they use XML, JSON, fixed format, segmented, delimited or other formats for their system-to-system messages.

A data agnostic engine that can pull in information from virtually any source can create a tremendous competitive advantage for your company, and help improve your customer experience by integrating customer insights across all LOBs of your entire organization. Our solution provides the means to send and receive information from any internal or external data source and promote easy-to-digest data outputs for related systems.

Another major advantage is reducing the strain on your IT department. Our supplemental engines can be created, updated and managed independently – often in a matter of hours or days, instead of months or years.

Data for Days

When it comes to making the right credit or fraud risk decision, data holds the keys to the kingdom. Use the right data at the right time, and you can improve customer experiences, provide access to financial products for to those who need them, decrease your exposure to risk and drive profitability. Without the right data, all of that is in jeopardy.

If your legacy system is limited because of its unique customization and the pain of integration, adding in new and different data sources is likely a very distant dream. But by using an augmentation strategy, you can access the best information from your preferred data sources (including your internal and customer-processing systems). You can create and test champion/challenger models, test policy rules and thresholds, and easily and quickly integrate new data providers to help support your growth strategies and goals.

A platform like Zoot provides an easy, drag-and-drop interface that lets you tailor and update on the fly to get the data you need, where you need it. You can take advantage of the visual analysis capability to see exactly what happens throughout any decision flow, and use test-driven development to refine and hone your engine to meet your unique needs.

With seamless connections between Zoot and your legacy systems, you will no longer feel the constraints of that rigid and brittle past. And best of all, you will position your company for rapid, iterative growth for the future.


Ready to incorporate a Zoot Solution into your stack?