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VOL. 127 | NO. 181 | Monday, September 17, 2012

First Horizon Honored for Technology

By Andy Meek

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The parent company of First Tennessee Bank is one of the most tech-savvy banks around, according to the information technology trade publication InformationWeek.

Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. walked away with first place in the banking and financial services industry segment on the 2012 InformationWeek 500 list, which recognizes the nation’s most innovative users of business technology. The company, which has a strong capital markets business as well as a regional banking unit with more than 170 bank branches in and around Tennessee, won the top spot for transforming its information technology organization, systems and infrastructure.

It was part of a massive overhaul that started in late 2010, when First Horizon upgraded or replaced every key business system. It brought things like the ability for customers to make deposits remotely by snapping photos of checks with their smartphones.

Chairman, president and CEO Bryan Jordan touts the bank’s spending on tech systems and upgrades routinely in his public speeches and in presentations for analysts.

First Horizon, which has now appeared on the list 10 times, ranked 14th overall on the InformationWeek 500 and is the highest-ranked bank in the 2012 list.

“Today when customers walk into one of our financial centers or call one of our support lines they interact with our employees who have at their fingertips more timely and relevant information about our customers’ accounts, their relationships and their needs,” said Bruce Livesay, executive vice president and chief information officer for First Horizon. “We are proud to be honored by InformationWeek for using technology to best benefit our customers and our employees who serve them.”

First Horizon’s technology overhaul included everything from upgrading core loan and deposit systems to deploying mobile banking, and it sought to make it easier for customers to do business with the company.

Now in its 23rd year, the InformationWeek 500 tracks the information technology practices of the nation’s most innovative IT organizations.

In unrelated First Horizon news, meanwhile, the banking company continues to be viewed as being in prime position to go shopping for other banks, when and if it’s ready, according to at least one analyst.

First Horizon chief financial officer William “BJ” Losch and First Horizon director of corporate development and strategy Brian Mellone participated in a Wunderlich Securities Inc. conference call series on “The Coming M&A Super-Cycle from the Buyers’ Perspective.”

According to Wunderlich bank analyst Kevin Reynolds, there are almost 2,400 banks based in the South with assets of less than $1 billion, and more than 40 percent of them have CEOs older than 60.

“With increased capital requirements, a heavier regulatory burden, slower economic growth, and a very difficult interest rate environment, it is clear that a massive wave of consolidation is needed, and FHN could participate in a thoughtful, disciplined manner over the next few years,” Reynolds wrote in a recent analyst note.

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