No core IT overhaul in Westpac’s future



blog It seems speculation about the future of Westpac’s core banking IT platform has been going on forever. Back as far as 2009, the bank had been publicly stating that it was planning to migrate to CSC’s Hogan platform, which is already used in its St George subsidiary. However, the plans were quickly delayed only a year later. I’m not sure to what extent those changes ever went ahead, but one thing is sure — the shift to CSC’s next-generation platform Celeriti now appears to be on hold indefinitely. The Financial Review tells us (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“[Westpac] chief information officer Clive Whincup told The Australian Financial Review Westpac did not need to immediately perform a mammoth systems rip-and-replace operation, which would have been similar to the one recently completed at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.”

Whether you believe this is an issue for the bank depends on who you talk to. Westpac’s Whincup clearly doesn’t think it’s a huge deal, and if you were on the conservative side of the fence in Australia’s banking community, you’d probably agree that it’s not worth spending hundreds of millions of dollars on such a risky exercise when there are wider benefits to be gained from application upgrades in higher layers than the core. I’ve argued this myself in the past.

However, there is also a growing consensus in Australia’s banking technoloy scene that core banking IT upgrades are a necessary part of every bank’s long-term future. You’ll find this view espoused at CommBank and NAB particularly, and Suncorp is also largely on board. However, ANZ is also a holdout, alongside Westpac. I think we’ll find out over the next 5-7 years or so, as the demands on the technology platforms underpinning Australia’s major banks grow, just who was more visionary in this long-running debate.

To be honest, it doesn’t surprise me that Whincup is taking a more conservative approach to the core banking platform issue than his predecessor, long-time CBA and Westpac CIO Bob McKinnon. McKinnon was always a bit of a change agent pushing for development, both at CommBank and Westpac, while Whincup has struck me, the several times I have met him and seen the executive give speeches, as a more conservative soul more concerned with stability.

Image credit: Winam, Creative Commons