By John San Filippo
On August 2, Jack Henry announced a sweeping brand refresh that eliminated the company’s three different brands: Symitar (its credit union brand), Jack Henry Banking (the community bank equivalent of Symitar) and ProfitStars (a collection of ancillary products for banks and credit unions, most of which came by way of acquisition).
When Symitar Systems, Inc., was founded in 1984, its credit union core processing platform was eponymous with the company name; it was simply called Symitar. By the time Jack Henry & Associates acquired Symitar in 2000, Jack Henry already owned another credit union core called Conductor, which it acquired as part of its Peerless Group purchase in 1998. Conductor was an IBM AS/400-based system designed for the mid-tier credit union market.
Then in 2002, Jack Henry acquired CU Solutions and its Cruise core platform. Cruise was a Windows-based system designed for smaller credit unions.
With so much brand capital in the Symitar name, Jack Henry decided to roll all of its credit union cores up under Symitar. The only thing missing was a name for the original Symitar platform. As part of a brand refresh for Symitar, its namesake core was rechristened Episys.
A few years later, the Conductor platform was sunsetted, leaving Symitar with Episys and Cruise (later renamed CruiseNet to reflect a .Net rewrite) for core systems. Then in 2020, Jack Henry sold CruiseNet to CSPI, leaving Episys as Symitar’s only core.
To drive home the point that Jack Henry & Associates is one company and, more importantly, operates as one company despite its numerous acquisitions, all company products and services will now be marketed under the Jack Henry name.
“Having all those different names was confusing,” Jack Henry Board Chair and CEO David Foss told Finopotamus. “There was this perception that they were all different companies and that was not helpful.” He pointed to the announcement of the company’s new technology strategy, which Finopotamus covered in February, as a hint of the brand refresh to come.
“Our concern [at that time] was that people would perceive that we were modernizing the tech stock in one brand, but not all the brands,” Foss explained. “Are you doing this technology modernization for Jack Henry Banking? Are you doing it for Symitar? Are you doing it for ProfitStars? In reality, we're doing it for everything. We want to make sure people understand that we are one company and we are pulling in one direction.”
On the idea of presenting a single brand to both credit unions and banks, Foss said he doesn’t see an issue. “Banks are still banks and credit unions are still credit unions,” he said. “But I think it's interesting that they don't as much see each other as their direct competitor or their number one competitor anymore.” He pointed to fintechs, neobanks, money center banks and tech giants as all more significant threats to credit unions and community banks than they are to each other.
As a result, the company will host its first Jack Henry Connect conference August 29 through September 1 in San Diego. This conference merges the previous individual user conferences for Symitar, Jack Henry Banking and ProfitStars.
Foss said the company hosted a smaller Strategic Initiatives conference this past May that brought credit union and bank executives together. “It was a great experience,” Foss said of the event. “We had people on stage from both banks and credit unions sharing information. The Connect conference is just a bigger version of what we did already with our Strategic Initiatives conference.”
But What About Symitar?
With the Symitar brand no longer in use, Finopotamus asked Foss what would become of the Symitar name.
“There's a lot of great brand equity with the name Symitar in the credit union environment,” noted Foss. “The good news is we're going back to our roots in that the core solution will now be called Symitar. We're going to do away with the Episys name.” He added that many long-time customers never fully embraced the Episys name and have always called the platform Symitar.
“Numerica has been a long-time Symitar customer, so we’ve witnessed firsthand Symitar’s evolution from operating like somewhat of an independent business unit to really operating like part of the Jack Henry family,” said KayCee Murray, SVP of Information Technology at Numerica Credit Union, when asked for her thoughts on Jack Henry’s new branding. “We continue to enjoy the benefits of Jack Henry’s ‘one company’ approach, so this move makes perfect sense.”
According to Foss, a branding study performed as part of the brand refresh discovered that the Symitar and Jack Henry names were equally strong in the credit union space. “Jack Henry had great recognition, as did Symitar,” he said. “Now we get the best of both worlds where the core is going to be called Symitar and we get to use the Jack Henry name [for credit unions], too. It’s the ideal situation for us going forward.”