As banks look to shorten their list of vendors, the industry's largest technology supplier is looking to lengthen its list of products and services.
Fidelity National Information Services, known as FIS, announced Aug. 12 that it had agreed to buy SunGard Data Systems for $9.1 billion in cash and stock, including the assumption of debt. SunGard would bring capital markets and asset management solutions to FIS to complement its depth in the banking industry. The deal positions the company to court the world's largest and most complex banks, the area where it is seeing the most growth.
Those financial institutions are increasingly looking to narrow the number of vendors serving them, given regulators' focus on vendor risk management and the intense pressure to trim costs in light of the earnings environment.
FIS has long used acquisitions as a way to bring the next available products to its clients, said Gary Norcross, the company's president and CEO, but banks have less bandwidth than ever to shop around themselves.
"Given the technology changes, the regulatory changes, the costs, the new unregulated incumbents, I think banks are thinking, 'I have to take down this level of complexity and let the providers concentrate on those issues,'" Norcross said in an interview.
On a conference call earlier that day, he told analysts, "What we're seeing in the largest financial institutions in the world, is, once again, the ability to work with fewer solution providers."
FIS, based in Jacksonville, Fla., has spent the last several years trying to become a bigger player with the global banks and the acquisition of SunGard fits squarely into that effort.
"FIS has a nice wallet share among the big banks, but it is still a relatively small piece as a part of the total tech spend," said Brett Huff, an analyst at Stephens. "This gives them another pie piece."
Although FIS' capabilities in capital markets is limited in terms of products, the company's consulting arm Capco does a "tremendous amount" work in the space, Norcross said on the call. The ability to bring together the consulting arm with SunGard's products is a "big day-one driver" for the deal.
"Today we're really one of the leading consulting firms in that space. Obviously, SunGard is rich in [intellectual property] on that side," Norcross said. "That's going to be where you're going to see the fastest hit of IP and revenue growth expansion."
SunGard, which makes software for financial institutions, is owned by seven private-equity firms, including Silver Lake Management, Providence Equity Partners and KKR & Co. The Wayne, Pa.-based company filed to go public in June, but rumors of a sale began percolating last month.
Buying it should be immediately accretive to earnings, according to FIS.
"Frankly, us being able to elevate our wallet share day one just through the combination is going to be very important to help us accelerate growth we'll now be viewed as a much different provider in the largest banks in the world," Norcross said on the call.
Norcross was careful to also mention the benefits of the deal for its community and regional bank clients from his remarks.
"SunGard builds us some very nice wealth capabilities and treasury management services that actually allow us to augment some of our other acquisitions we've done recently," Norcross said. "This could actually help also in [the community and regional markets]. And as you know, we're very committed to that market."
Indeed, smaller banks have increasingly been looking to add wealth management as a way to deepen relationships with commercial customers and boost its fee income.
Last year, FIS acquired Reliance Financial, which added full-service wealth management and retirement technology to its suite of products. The SunGard deal substantially builds on that.
"FIS had already made an acquisition to start barking up that tree with Reliance, but with SunGard it is closer to completely fulfilling that initiative," Huff said.
Larger banks are also looking to add wealth management and investment advisory solutions, said Shawn Ward, chief executive and co-founder of Geezeo, a provider of personal financial management tools to banks.
"Seems to me that FIS is positioned to be a 'single-source' vendor in the melding world of retail banking and brokerage," Ward wrote in an email.
That trend is also influencing the way Geezeo is approaching its business. "Our more innovative clients and partners are looking for us to beef up our advisory services offering, which is already on our 2016 product road map," Ward said.