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Venminder Setting the Industry Standard for Vendor Management

5 min read
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This interview is part of an ongoing series where 2ONE6 International speaks with various FinTech providers as well as financial institutions that choose to partner with the innovators in this space. 

One task that every financial institution has to deal with is compliance. It's not necessarily fun or exciting, but it is one of those areas that the regulators will come down hard on you if you are neglecting it. 

Digital Compliance has created Venminder, their solution to vendor management. This powerful, easy to use software allows the financial institution to quickly sort all of the various areas of compliance needs. One of the unique properties of the platform is that it is modular based, so you can use the entire platform or only the pieces that you need.

Dana_Bowers-_VenminderAt the helm of this Elizabethtown, KY based company is Dana Bowers.  If the name is familiar, it's because she has been a serial entrepreneur in the financial technology space for over 25 years.  
She has been a trailblazer in the payments industry, while being honored with more awards than we have room for here. Her previous company that she started from the ground up, iPay Technologies was sold to Jack Henry for over $300 Million dollars. She got key members of the band back together and is now working to solve the vendor management problems of banks and credit unions.
Eric Isham - After the ultra successful exit from iPay most people would have just hung it up and hit the beach. What drove you to jump back into yet another technology company and what is keeping you going through the day to day grind of creating another successful company?
Dana Bowers – It was just too tempting when I realized how many gaps still needed to be filled in the vendor management space. Owning and operating a high risk provider business and the experience we gained there really put us in a position to help financial institutions manage all of their vendor relationships. It was a natural transition. And I felt like I still have a few things left to give to the FinTech space. Guess I’m not ready for the proverbial rocking chair (or beach chair) just yet. 

EI - Compliance is a pretty broad topic, touching several areas within an FI. At times this can seem overwhelming for an FI of any size, but particularly a small one. How do you simplify managing this for banks and credit unions?  
DB – We don’t try to focus on “compliance”. You’re right. That’s a BIG topic. At iPay, we stayed focused on one thing: bill pay. We’re doing the same thing at Venminder by focusing just on the subject of Vendor Management compliance. That’s what we’re good at and that’s where we’ll stay.   

EI - Cost reduction is on the minds of a lot of institutions today. There has to be a significant amount of time, energy, and resources that you are providing by streamlining and organizing this process. What kind of advantages would an FI observe that utilizes Venminder?
DB – It’s all about execution. Way too often, when nothing at the vendor is broken and the owner of the vendor contract is very busy, the simplest thing to do is to just let a vendor contract auto renew. And that’s how legacy price build up happens. Next thing you know you have a 10 year old technology contract that still has 10 year old pricing on it. Our job is to make sure auto renews don’t happen. It is NOT Our job to tell the client whether or not they should stay with that vendor, that’s their decision. And most of the time that’s exactly what they want to do. But that doesn’t mean it has to be at the same price and same terms as originally written 10 years ago.   

EI - I'm starting to see more and more providers move into this space. What are some of the key differentiators of your solution and the people behind it?
DB – Just like at iPay, it’s all about the service. When you work hard every day to help your clients and genuinely care about the outcome, it sets you apart. We enjoyed an outstanding reputation at iPay for the best service in the industry and Venminder is well on its way to setting the industry standard for vendor management.  

EI - What surprising trends are you seeing from FI’s today?
DB – I’m not sure there are any surprising trends from the FI’s. But the regulators are certainly setting trends in their hyper focus on the subject of vendor management.  And rightfully so. It’s all about managing risk and in todays world of increased and  constantly evolving threats (such as cyber security) everyone needs to recognize where the risks originate and mitigate those risks to the best of their ability. 

EI- You have defined a lot of your career by creating new technology and continuously rolling out fresh UI's. How would you explain this company's approach to innovation?
DB - I was at the EY Strategic Growth forum a few years ago and had the pleasure of hearing Michael Dell speak. Someone asked him how he managed product development and satisfying the millions of enhancement requests he gets from customers. His response (I’ll paraphrase here….) was: “Customers always have good ideas and we incorporate as many of those as we can. However, my job is to create the next enhancement that my customers never even dreamed of”. That’s the way I see my job. It’s the perfect description. 

EI- What has been the most eye opening, i.e., scary thing that you have experienced with Venminder?
DB – Just how complex and critical the vendor managers job at a financial institution is.  It would be cost prohibitive for an institution to hire and dedicate all the necessary resources on staff to do the job well. That’s why Venminder exists.   
EI - Do banks and credit unions have a good understanding of the difference between what constitutes a high risk vendor from a low risk one? Are they taking all the appropriate steps necessary to mitigate those risks?
DB -  yes, the vast majority don’t have a problem with distinguishing between low and high risk. Honestly, not much more than a good dose of common sense is required to get that job done. But the rules keep changing and that’s what makes the job more challenging. As for risk mitigation, that’s a tough one. The never ending question is “when is it enough” because you can never take a risk to zero.  

EI - Do most FI's know what they should be asking for regarding due diligence with 3rd parties? How can you assist in this process?
DB- For the most part the answer to the first question is yes. The challenge many times is having either 1) the right kind of resources in house to analyze all the various due diligence documents, or 2) even when qualified resources are on staff, having enough of those resources to go around to get the job done.  
EI - If you could provide just one piece of advice to an FI regarding vendor management, what would it be?
DB – If your house isn’t in order, you need to start fixing that now before the examiners get there. 

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