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“There’s a bridge in Brooklyn …”

Read the contract—really read it—before you sign it!

Obvious and mediocre won’t be found here—but “Why didn’t I think of that?” will! Challenging the banking status quo is Dan “The Wombat” Fisher’s personal mission. Obvious and mediocre won’t be found here—but “Why didn’t I think of that?” will! Challenging the banking status quo is Dan “The Wombat” Fisher’s personal mission.

Reading your contract thoroughly before you execute it is one of the best ways to protect your bank from entering into an unfavorable vendor relationship.

Simple and obvious, right? Yet, have your ever read a contract after you signed it, and had the sinking feeling the deal is not what you thought it was? 

You are not alone!

4 rules to remember

Before you sign your next contract, remember these rules.

Rule number one: Vendors expect you to be informed. They most certainly will not advise you on how to get a better deal.

If you only negotiate a vendor contract once every five years, how can you know what the pricing terms, conditions, and trends are?

“Oh, it is only a debit card contract and we make plenty of money on those.”

When was the last time you just looked your costs?

(“Damn, that’s expensive!”)

Rule Number Two: Don’t make the assumption that you can handle this deal. After all, it is only a technology vendor. If your vendor is your primary source of information then you are only going to get what the vendor wants you to know.

(You deserve what you get if your only reference is your vendor, who is trying to get you to sign on the dotted line.)

Rule Number Three: Do not ignore the fine print.

Try to look ahead and anticipate changes in expectations and build them into the agreement. You will be surprised by the gotchas you find in the agreement when you try to implement or select a product that is better than what your current vendor offers. Exclusivity is a very powerful word.

Rule Number Four: Don’t agree to anything you think you will never use. If it is in the contract, you have just purchased it from a vendor you may not like anymore, someday.

Who works for whom

The moral of this story: Don’t let the realization that you’ve got a bad deal that you think can’t be changed be your end game.

It is never too late to seek out an expert to save you from yourself!

Remember this, when a relationship manager or sales professional on the other side of the desk is telling you that this is a great deal and that there is no need to involve a consultant: They are most likely talking about their side of the transaction, not yours!  

—The Wombat!

Dan Fisher

Dan Fisher is president and CEO of The Copper River Group, a consulting firm headquartered in Fargo, N. D., that focuses on technology and payment systems research and consulting for community financial institutions. For nearly 30 years, Fisher has worked in the financial industry using technology to improve the bottom line. He was CIO of Community First Bankshares (now part of Bank of the West), has served as a director of the Federal Reserve Board of Minneapolis, the chairman of the American Bankers Association Payment Systems Committee, and was a member of the Independent Community Bankers of America Payments Committee. Fisher has written numerous articles on banking technology and the payments system. He has authored or co-authored six books and recently published a book titled, "Capturing Your Customer! The New Technology of Remote Deposit." You can contact Fisher at [email protected] or at 701-293-6222.
P.S. To understand Dan's nickname, check out "About the Wombat" on his website.       

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