Mark Sievewright now gets to put his thoughts into action, and he said he hears that a lot.
Sievewright, the former TowerGroup research and advisory firm CEO who joined Fiserv Inc. as a senior strategist in 2004, is now the president of the company’s credit union division, the largest such organization in the credit union industry.
After years of acquisitions and growth, the division is now the core processor, the central provider of technology solutions, to more than 2,500 credit unions, and its ancillary services are used by thousands more.
Named last week, Sievewright succeeds Scott Butler, who left for personal reasons after 25 years in the credit union industry, much of that with Fiserv, its former IntegraSys division and before that with EDS, which sold IntegraSys to Fiserv in 2003.
Sievewright is no stranger to credit unions. During his years with Fiserv, in addition to consulting with individual credit unions and trade associations, he participated in numerous state, national and international conferences as a speaker, facilitator and consultant.
That work was recognized by the World Council of Credit Unions last year when it presented Sievewright with its Ambassador Award in recognition of his service.
"I’ve especially loved my exposure to the credit union movement," Sievewright said of his 30 years in financial services. "It’s been a privilege to work with CUNA and WOCCU and lot of individual credit unions in strategic planning. It’s been a tremendous experience that they’ve granted me and it’s allowed me to be confident that I can be as effective in this job I have now that my good friend Scott Butler has decided to move on."
A longtime thought leader in the financial services industry, Sievewright has spoken and written extensively about the transformation of financial services and how credit unions must strategize and collaborate around products, services and information to survive and thrive.
So how will things differ now that his title is president of the credit union division rather than corporate senior vice president of market development for the Brookfield, Wis., company’s depository institutions group?
"One of the things I was joking about with a client the other day was how when you step away from running the business some might suddenly think you can’t run a business anymore," he said. "But I’ve actually had a lot of day-to-day running the business in my career," including managing several hundred people at HSBC in London and senior management roles at MasterCard International and Payments Systems Inc.
In his new job, Boston-based Sievewright will be in charge of an operation with 20 offices and about 2,200 employees, including its headquarters in Frisco, Texas. "One of the big things in my agenda is to be very visible across locations where we have a significant number of people," he said.
He also said the strategic planning he has done over the past several years with clients and internally "will continue to shape much of what I’m going to be doing now."
Sievewright had a role–"not a major role"–in the company’s melding of its seven individual credit union core processing divisions as part of the "one Fiserv" reorganization announced in early 2009. That culminated a process that began not long after Jeffrey Yabuki became president/CEO in 2005 and was accelerated by the purchase of payments processor CheckFree in 2007.
The seven members of the CU7 brand lost their individual identities as the company began marketing and branding by platform names under the Fiserv label, stressing their integration with ancillary products and services from across the broad organization. The company also now refers to core processing platforms as account processing platforms.
Further consolidation "is absolutely not on my mind," Sievewright said. "If you think about the acquisitions and the evolution of our business over the years, we’ve done a really good job of being able to stay in touch with, say, a $250 million dollar credit union and what you need in your technology environment. Now, we’re going to continue to focus on bringing you the package of solutions that you need to be the most effective. I think we’ve become really good at that, and I don’t want us to change that course."
Going forward, the new division president plans to continue a focus on serving all sizes of credit unions. And that will include the new Acumen platform for larger credit unions and digital banking products that credit unions of all sizes are going to need to succeed with all demographics.
He also pointed to the recent acquisitions of Credit Union On-Line, a Massachusetts operation that was the only service bureau devoted solely to the Fiserv XP2 platform, and M-Com, one of its partners in mobile banking and payments technology.
"We’re still very much engaged in these kinds of strategic opportunities," Sievewright said.