Darren BridgesDarren Bridges, President

It’s always interesting at the beginning of a new year to look back at the strategic planning notes from the previous year and reflect on those ideas, initiatives and goals for the year that were set and even more importantly, successfully achieved.  2010 was another great year of growth and expansion as we welcomed new clients and continued to enhance the scope of our services to match the ever-evolving needs of the community financial institution market.

From a financial perspective, we continued the consistent growth pattern that we have seen year over year, experiencing a 21% growth in revenue in 2010.  Contributions to this increase included additional services and upgrades for our existing clients and the addition of new financial institution clients in 9 new states to our support base.

As for trends that impacted the industry in 2010, we saw a marked return to emphasizing information technology in examination and audit engagements and a continuation of merger and acquisition activity within our market.   Both of these scenarios bring to light the importance of proper alignment of an institution’s IT strategic plan with its overall business plan.  Providing guidance in these environments has been a key factor in our continued growth as we have worked closely with our clients to emphasize the importance of technology solutions that comply with current regulatory measures, that are tightly aligned with the institution’s immediate and long term growth strategy, and that are reviewed on a scheduled basis.

In 2010, we were honored to have been recognized for a number of business and industry awards including acknowledgements for NetComply, our network managed services solution for financial institutions.   NetComply earned Safe Systems a spot in CRN’s Top 40 Most Innovative Managed Service Providers as well as landed us on MSPmentor’s Top 100 list of Managed Service Providers worldwide.  Once again, we placed in the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies and we were recently honored with a BankNews Innovative Solutions Award for Continuum, our hosted disaster recovery service.  While the ultimate measurement of success for us is our client retention and satisfaction, it is also an honor to have our services recognized in these well-known and respected organizations.

2011 is shaping up to be an outstanding year as well.  In a few weeks we will host our second annual National Users Conference at Callaway Gardens Resort in Pine Mountain, Georgia.  Last year’s inaugural conference was such a great success, that we are geared up for an even larger conference on March 23-25.  This is a great opportunity to interact with industry peers, learn something new from an industry, technical or compliance perspective, and to get to know our Safe Systems team.  This is also a great place to weigh in on future service enhancements.

Speaking of which, much of the focus of the coming year will be on the enhancement and expansion of our existing services.  We have been planning and working for the past year on our first major upgrade to our NetComply service.  Many of the enhancements are the direct result of client recommendations and we are excited to get this upgrade pushed out to our client base.  Fundamentally, we want our NetComply system to provide you with the data and reports necessary to build a framework for improved system efficiencies and more seamless IT audits and exams.  Our ultimate goal is that this tool, combined with our Account Management program and compliance expertise can be used to ensure that your network is audit ready as a part of your daily workflow.

As regulatory guidance measures continue to evolve, we have also expanded our methods of communicating these updates to you.  Our website ffiecguru.com continues to grow in readership as a resource to prepare for exams, submit questions and check the latest news on all things compliance.  This site is updated regularly and utilizes our industry footprint to discover and respond to the impact that compliance changes have on our industry.

A major topic on ffiecguru.com has been the pending retirement to the SAS 70 in June of this year.  As most of you know, the SAS 70 auditing standard has been used by service providers to demonstrate the use of proper internal security controls for many years.  The new audit standards and associated reports have now officially been defined and we are working with our external auditors to begin our internal audit utilizing the new standards.  The intention of the newly implemented standards is to differentiate the requirements of the variety of outsourced vendors and to produce a report that is more relevant to our relationship to you.  We realize how important that this validation is to you and it is our intention to complete this engagement as expeditiously as possible.  As we begin this process in the upcoming weeks, we will keep you informed of the progress and in the interim would be happy to provide you with a letter from our external auditor stating that the new certification is in process for your records.

In closing, let me once again express our sincere appreciation to our loyal client base for your continued support.  Allowing us to be an extension of your team and not just another vendor has helped us to be innovators and industry thought leaders for our market for the past 18 years and we cannot begin to express how important your patronage has been for us.  An engaged client base is one of the greatest assets that any organization can have and we have the best at that – no question!   We look forward to a great 2011 together and seeing many of you at the conference in a few weeks.  As always, keep the feedback and ideas coming.   We look forward to adding your ideas to future planning session notes and checking them off as completed.

All the best!
Darren Signature

Darren Bridges

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