Editor’s note: Charlotte Beat is a regular feature on Wednesdays.Impact Financial Systems Inc. says it expects to complete the first installation of its software for a single large client in two weeks.

Founded in 2002, Impact sells software that cuts out paperwork between the front and back offices of large brokerages.

Tim Parsons, president and founder of the company, tells Local Tech Wire that the software should produce a 100 percent return on investment within the first year after implementation. The product costs from $200,000 to $1 million depending upon the complexity of the integration required, Parsons says.

The four-person company, financed by Parsons, has a “slow growth plan that will allow us to do it internally,” without resorting to venture capital, he says. It is targeting brokerage houses initially, but Parsons says the software can be extended to other financial services such as in trust and wealth management.

Brokerages, he notes, have undergone considerable consolidation in recent years, resulting in only about 100 to 150 potential buyers for Impact’s software.

Parsons says the company has a pipeline full of potential clients although the financial services industry is often perceived as conservative and is always concerned about security.

“We’ve been successful because we have people with deep experience in brokerage operations,” Parsons says. One is John Hynie, a former director of operations at Wachovia Corp.

“We think our package is a great platform for automation in other areas of financial services where there is a lot of paper interaction between front and back offices, where there is quite a lot of efficiency to be gained,” he says.

Parsons himself was technical director for Wachovia Securities for nine years, where he saw quite a need for the type of paper reducing software Impact sells.

He says competitors to his product are generally “traditional workflow people who over the years have not been successful selling to this crowd. They want someone like us, with ideas that get them half way there instead of starting with a blank sheet of paper.”

Parsons says benchmark testing from “our previous experience shows we can see 100 percent return on investment in the first year.”

He adds that bank brokerages “are certainly a focus,” as is “other relationship oriented business in the banks.”

We asked Parsons what he thought of the economic recovery. “Without doubt,” he says, “all the people we’re talking to have enjoyed two quarters of upturn. They’re feeling better about their business. But we’re not talking to anyone who thinks this is forever.

“There’s a very cautious loosening of the purse strings. They’re willing to talk and think about making purchases, but money isn’t being shoveled onto the table at this point.”

Banks win awards

Two of Charlotte’s big banks have had electronic products in the news recently.

This week, Wachovia announced a new service that converts paper checks to electronic transactions at point-of-sale. This lets merchants speed check clearing, fraud protection, and the payment process.

Recently, Wachovia’s Connection was voted the “Best corporate/institutional online cash management service in North America” by Global Finance Magazine.

Global Finance named Bank of America the best consumer Internet bank site in the world for the second year in a row, following naming it the best in the U.S. in regional awards earlier this year.

The latest award follows recognition last month from market research company Vividence, which ranked Bank of America’s online banking No. 1 in customer and potential customer experience.

Bank of America has 6.6 million active online customers, the largest number in the industry.

Altiva Gets $1 million

Exactech, a Gainesville, FL -based company has taken a $1 million equity investment in Charlotte start-up Altiva.

Altiva is an early stage company founded in 1999 to acquire rights to existing spinal products, technologies and systems.

It recently acquired a plate and screw system to treat spinal degeneration. It also acquired patents for a rod based lower back system and is pursuing other lines.

Exactech has agreed to lend the company an additional $5 million to help it acquire technologies approved by Exactech.

Bill Petty, Exactech chief executive officer says, “Altiva provides us with a highly promising entry into the fast growing spinal market.”

Exactech’s initial $1 million investment purchased a new class of Altiva preferred stock convertible into about 17 percent of Altiva’s outstanding common stock.

Exactech also agreed to fund or guarantee a credit of up to $6 million based on traditional receivables and inventory loan allowances. Exactech is entitled to a board seat as long as it maintains a certain ownership level.

The worldwide spinal market is the fastest growing and most profitable segment of the orthopedics market with sales expected to exceed $2.2 billion in 2003, up 20 percent.

Altiva: www.altivacorp.com

Wachovia Corp.: www.wachovia.com

Bank of America: www.bankofamerica.com