Articles and Press Releases
CU*Answers Celebrates Employee-Driven “Be an Innovator” Program with New Fun Logo
CU*Answers announced that it celebrated “Innovator Day” to recognize the success of its employee-driven “Be an Innovator” program. On September 17 employees wore harvest orange t-shirts sporting the new “Be an Innovator” logo. “Our meetings are fun, and we wanted a logo to reflect that spirit,” said the program’s coordinator, Alycia Meyers.
“The ‘Be an Innovator’ creates an alternative way for employees to present ideas, and it has really taken hold at CU*Answers,” explained Meyers. “Employees can either present ideas at our “Be an Innovator” lunches or submit ideas for review by top management though a “Be an Innovator” Employee Idea form.”
Meyers explained further that the purpose of “Innovator Day” was to re-energize staff about the program and to look forward toward growth in the next business year starting October 1.
Randy Karnes, CEO at CU*Answers said about the group, “The innovators group at CU*Answers is designed to challenge to our corporate designs for innovations. We value it as a volunteer-employee-challenge to the ways we drive change into our network.”
Almost fifty percent of CU*Answer employees have attended a “Be an Innovator” lunch or have submitted an Employee Idea form. “Be an Innovator” lunches are scheduled every two months. The twelfth meeting will be held in late September. The next Employee Idea form deadline is October 31.
List of CU*Answers Stockholders Growing Steadily
CU*Answers, the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based cooperative CUSO, announced that to date it has added eight new stockowners during the 2014 business year. In the last five years, the 100% credit union-owned core processor has added over fifty new owners, matching the number of owners added in the ten years prior. In that same five year period, the price of new stock ownership has increased by $100,000. CU*Answers currently has 126 credit union owners.
Scott Page, CU*Answers EVP said, “We are very excited at the level credit unions want to participate, including having an equal voting privilege in helping set the future direction of their cooperative technology CUSO. Credit unions aren’t just our clients; they’re our partners. This is truly a cooperative relationship and we’re eager to continue to grow with our credit unions.”
CU*Answers added that the organization and its credit unions now represent over 1.5 million members and $15 billion in credit union assets.
CU*Answers Enhances Loan Packaging Feature
CU*Answers, a 100% credit union-owned core processor announced it had enhanced its loan packaging feature with the 14.2 release of the CU*BASE® platform. The loan packaging feature allows a credit union to segment a portion of the credit union’s loan portfolio for concentration risk analysis or to prepare them for sale to a secondary lender.
The enhancements will include new selection criteria for packages including credit union risk level, loan officer code, purpose code and security code. The same loan can now exist in multiple packages instead of just a single package. The credit union will also be able to combine loan packages and add comments to them.
These latest changes to the feature came as a response to the input of Progressive Credit Union in New York City, a 4,000 member credit union with over $680 million in total assets. Over 80% of the enhancements to the CU*Answers CU*BASE system come from direct input by credit unions on the platform.
CU*Answers’ Patronage Comparison Dashboard Offers in Depth Membership Analysis
CU*Answers recently introduced a new dashboard to its CU*BASE® processing system that is sure to impress any credit union looking for in depth, easy to use, membership analysis on their core platform. The 100% credit union-owned CUSO offered the new Patronage Comparison dashboard to clients earlier this year, which allows CUs to instantly compare the participation of two specific segments of the credit union membership, narrowed down in any number of ways. Population segments can be defined by the type of membership, reason they joined, gender, age range, tiered service level, and balance range, and then compared side by side on their account activity and patronage with the credit union. CU*Answers says this type of tool allows credit unions to better align future marketing campaigns and service/ product offerings.
In developing this tool, CU*Answers offered several challenging questions for how this dashboard might be utilized:
- What segment of a credit union’s membership uses credit cards the least, and are they a good target for a cross sales campaign?
- How are individual and organizational accounts different in their transaction activity? Should a credit union consider different types of marketing for the two groups?
- Are 20-30 year-olds generally in a good position to lend based on their average account balances?
- Is a certain segment of the population using a transaction channel far more frequently? Is it time to consider a new type of transaction service charge?
The CU*BASE feature will display the transaction activity for the two groups over the course of the last three months, with the ability to view either the group, per member, or per transaction average, segmented by the delivery channel used (e.g. online banking, debit, credit, ACH, etc.). Clients can then drill down further to see additional analysis on the comparison of the two groups, including their respective patronage. Lastly, credit unions can select one of the comparison groups and jump straight into the membership or account analysis to learn even more about the group (for example, the percent of that group using various electronic services).
Core processors are in a unique position to compile the data they receive on behalf of their credit unions and then to package that in a way that the credit union can execute on—CU*Answers sees this opportunity and has developed dozens of new dashboards to accomplish that goal with more in development. The Patronage Comparison feature represents just one of the many database mining tools included standard with its CU*BASE processing system. As with other similar tools, they said it is intended to provide a credit union instant access to key credit union data without having to create static custom reports or spreadsheets.
CU*Answers Improves Account Opening in Online Banking
West Michigan-based cooperative CUSO, CU*Answers, recently announced that it has improved the ability for credit unions on its CU*BASE® core platform to offer new accounts in It’s Me 247 online banking. Credit unions on the platform have had the ability to offer qualified dividend products, also known in the industry as “Reward Checking,” but now have the ability for members to open these accounts right from within online banking. The CU*BASE Qualified Dividends feature allows credit unions to set up checking accounts with specific eligibility requirements (such as e-Statement enrollment, a certain number of debit card transactions, etc.) to receive a higher interest rate.
Until the 14.2 release, received by online credit unions September 14, qualified dividend products could not be shown on the rate board within It’s Me 247 since there was no easy way to disclose to members that they wouldn’t always qualify for the highest rate. Now, eligible members will be presented with the rate they qualify for, and can learn more about qualifications directly on screen.
CU*Answers added that this is just one of many enhancements provided with the 14.2 CU*BASE release, and that all changes were made at no additional cost to credit unions.
CU*Answers Awarding $5000 in Cost of Compliance Contest
CU*Answers, data processor to nearly 200 credit unions nationwide, recently announced the Cost of Compliance contest, sponsored by its compliance division, AuditLink. Open to all credit union CEOs and CFOs, contest participants need to create a template that provides a standard way of calculating the cost of compliance. The template should list the costs of compliance and provide a way of tracking the costs. Participants are also asked to provide an implementation plan for their standard of calculating the cost of compliance. Participants will need to submit their template by October 15. Contest winners will be announced at CU*Answers CEO Strategies conference in November. The first-prize winner will receive $2500, the second-prize winner will be awarded $1500, and $1000 will go to the third-prize winner. Find out more at http://auditlink.cuanswers.com/.
Collections Roundtable Upcoming
The Lender*VP team at CU*Answers is hosting another Collections Roundtable on the 17th of the month. This group meets to discuss all types of issues, concerns, ideas, updates and new rules or laws. They can also discuss new training for the CU*BASE® core processing system they share. “Having an open forum has really been the hit of this session. Attendees know they can feel free to ask anything; it isn’t just a canned discussion based on predetermined points”, noted Jerry Collins, Manager of Collections at CU*Answers. “It also supports our core philosophy of networking and collaboration among our client Credit Unions,” adds Collins. The next Roundtable is scheduled for November 18th.
CU*Answers Lender*VP Forms Team Takes Final Steps to Complete Move to FEP Platform
CU*Answers is nearing the end of our file expansion project (FEP), which will be the new platform for CU*BASE®. The project has required over 7200 hours of testing and support throughout multiple departments. Our teams have tested over 2100 custom forms for our clients over the past 12 months. As of September 14, 2014 we have converted over 94% of our current 220 cuasterisk.com network clients to the new platform. With our dedicated resources and time we have ensured the transition to the new platform of CU*BASE has been smooth and seamless for our clients.
The major aspects of this expansion project were our loan forms to now support loan values of up to $999,999,999.99. We have also expanded the values within the member’s accounts to accommodate the new dollar limit as well.
These new file structures will now allow our credit unions to seek out new opportunities within the lending structure of our dynamic and constantly changing environments. This will be an asset to help gain additional member and business accounts in the future.
“Really, we barely noticed anything when we transitioned to FEP, and we were the second beta credit union. That’s really crazy”, states Linda Bodie, Chief + Innovator or Element Federal Credit Union. “I think we found two or three issues upon the conversion but those were relatively minor and cleaned up quickly. After that, it was business as usual.”
Dean Wilson, President/CEO of Focus Credit Union (Wauwatosa, WI) says “As a small credit union we often try to get involved in the development of our shared data processing resources. This year as we offered to ‘beta’ the new FEP release our transition was so smooth and seamless it was difficult to grasp that this wasn’t the production release. CU*Answers values all of its partners contributions to development and strengthening of the CU*BASE® GOLD flagship and our small efforts on the File Expansion Project were well worth it.”
Ice Bucket Challenge Soaks eDOC Innovations Staff
Rising to the occasion, eDOC Innovations employees braved themselves to be drenched with biting cold, icy water after being dared by CUSO partner CU*Answers to accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Raising $150 for the association, eDOC Innovations countered the challenge to three other industry partners: Digital Mailer, Cachet Financial Solutions, and the Association of Vermont Credit Unions.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. To learn more about ALS and the ALS Association, visit their website at www.alsa.org.
CU*Answers Adds Latest Owner
CU*Answers, the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based cooperative CUSO, announced that it had recently added another credit union owner. This newest investor is Chief Financial Federal Credit Union, located in Pontiac, MI ($131M assets, 23,000 members).
Scott Page, CU*Answers EVP said, “Chief Financial Federal Credit Union marks the 126th CU*Answers owner, with eight new owners already added in 2014. We are very excited at the level credit unions want to participate, including having an equal voting privilege in helping set the future direction of their cooperative technology CUSO”.
CU*Answers Adds Automated Non-Returns (Courtesy Pay) Notices for Joint Owners to CU*BASE
CU*Answers, a credit union-owned core processor, is happy to announce it is adding the ability to generate Automated Non-Return notices for joint owners in its upcoming CU*BASE® 14.2 software release. In the past, CU*BASE only generated an Automated Non-Return (ANR) notice for the primary member. With joint owners sometimes living at a different address, this can mean that the account could have gone negative (even to the point of requiring legal action) without them being notified.
With the 14.2 release, arriving September 14, ANR notices will function more like loan notices with both the member and the joint owner receiving notices. The credit union will even be able to designate at what level the joint owner should be notified—for example, with the first notice or with the second notice.
This improvement was the result of a client submitted Idea Form from within the CU*BASE system. About 80% of the improvements to the CU*Answers CU*BASE system come from staff of credit unions currently operating on the CU*Answers system.
CU*Answers Announces New Latest Release to Core Platform
CU*Answers, a 100% credit union-owned core processor, announced it will be deploying its latest software upgrade to its flagship data processing software CU*BASE®. The 14.2 software upgrade will be sent to all online (service bureau) clients on September 14th and to in-house clients on September 15th & 16th.
This release gives added benefits to almost every department at the credit union. Star features include statement analysis and trending tools, improvements to underwriting tracking, and enhancements for auditing and compliance. This is the third major release that CU*Answers has done in 2014.
Over the last two year CU*Answers has been working on two major projects to the CU*BASE system. Initially they worked on Improved New GOLD (ING)—a project to update the graphical design to over 9,000 panels in the CU*BASE system, which took nearly 5,500 man hours of development and testing. CU*Answers has also been working on its File Expansion Project (FEP), which expanded key account and transaction files. Among other improvements, this project has given credit unions the ability to create loans up to $999,999,999. The CUSO expects rollout of the FEP project to be completed by the end of the year; rollout of ING was completed February 2014.
CU*Answers Prepares for Iowa Annual Credit Union Convention
CU*Answers, West Michigan-based cooperative CUSO, has already geared up for the 2014 credit union tradeshow season by attending the Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin annual credit union conventions. The CUSO is now preparing for the Iowa Annual Credit Union League convention on September 17–19 in Dubuque.
Mike Gruber, a regional sales representative for CU*Answers will be in attendance to speak with various leaders of credit unions about CU*Answers and its various partners on the value of CUSO ownership, greater control of your processor, and the outstanding toolset that the CU*BASE® platform offers. CU*Answers will host a live demonstration of the core platform at its tradeshow booth to display some of the great features within the CU*BASE system including the many powerful dashboards and targeted analysis tools.
Per Mike Gruber, “CU*Answers is looking to expand in the Iowa marketplace. We broke into the Iowa market in 2010 with EdCo Community Credit Union and Des Moines Police Officers Credit Union and then brought on Advantage Credit Union in 2011. We would love to add an additional 5-10 Iowa credit unions in the next few years.” CU*Answers is a 100% cooperative CUSO and partners financially with potential credit union partners to be able to afford the cost of de-conversion and conversion costs.
CU*Answers Announces September Tricks of the Trade Webinar
CU*Answers, the 100% credit union-owned, data processing CUSO announced its upcoming Tricks of the Trade webinar for September. This month’s webinar focuses on the tools that credit unions can use to drive e-statement and e-notice enrollment to its members, as well as how to upload files directly into the core software. All of the tools that will be shown are part of the data processor’s flagship core processing solution, CU*BASE®.
CU*Answers offers a new “Tricks of the Trade” webinar monthly for credit union clients to be able to view live or review at a later point in time. The series provides quick hitting tips on accomplishing various tasks within the system and interesting CU*Answers news that clients may have missed. Information on past “Tricks of the Trade” can be found at www.cuanswers.com/tricks_of_trade.php.
CU*Answers Enhances the Lending Dashboard in CU*BASE
West Michigan-based cooperative CUSO, CU*Answers, is enhancing its CU*BASE® core platform by providing a better overview of loan underwriting activity. The lending queue within CU*BASE currently provides an at-a-glance overview of underwriting activity for all pending applications, with the ability to see a basic breakdown of all underwriting codes. With the upcoming 14.2 CU*BASE release, arriving September 14, these features have been expanded to provide more detail beyond simply pending applications.
This will be another tool to help loan managers track their loan activity. Users will be able to see an overview of underwriting codes on pending applications, but also on booked and denied loans. Dates, counts, and code types are also included on the screen to paint a better picture of loan activity, making it easier for lenders to track the entire loan application process and ensure the pipeline is working smoothly.