Articles and Press Releases
eDOC Innovations’ 2014 Annual Leadership Meeting
Credit union clients and industry partners joined eDOC Innovations for the 2014 eDOC Innovations’ Annual Leadership Meeting and Strategy Session, held May 14 – 15, 2014 in Boston, MA. Highlights at this year’s meeting included how to build a digital credit union culture and attract mobile members.
Patty Sarne, SVP/COO of San Antonio Citizens Credit Union comments, “Being a new owner of eDOC Innovations, we felt it was important to attend this conference. Hearing from eDOC Innovations’ executives, learning about their software solutions and strategic goals helped our credit union better understand the value of our cooperative ownership. Additionally, we found the live education session to be helpful in our software training process.”
By switching to an e-document strategy, credit unions can go digital, increase membership and reduce overhead and paper cost. For more information about eDOC Innovations visit: http://edoclogic.com.
CU*NorthWest Announces 2014 Video Contest Winners
At its annual 2014 Leadership Conference, June 25-27, CU*NorthWest announced the winner of the Best Completed Video contest. The winning contributors, all employees of credit unions on the CU*BASE core processing platform, won $1,500 for their credit union. The theme for this year’s contest was “Walking in the Members’ Shoes.” The attendees at the Leadership Conference were able to watch the submitted videos on the big screen at the Northern Quest Resort in Airway Heights, Washington and vote for their favorite entry.
The winner of this year’s contest was Inland Valley Federal Credit Union, Fontana, California. The credit union staff created a fun and inspiring video that was voted to best represent the theme. Runner up went to PrimeSource Credit Union, Spokane, Washington.
The 2014 Leadership Conference “Walking in the Members” Shoes” was an Amazing Success
CU*Northwest held their fifth annual Leadership conference June 25-26 at Northern Quest Resort in Airway Heights, WA. The event began with an open CU*NorthWest board meeting and welcome cocktail reception, then moved to additional days of interactive discussions and executive briefings for CEOs and senior managers of CU*NorthWest client credit unions. The event also incorporated a stockholder annual meeting for the cooperative.
The theme of “Walking in the Members’ Shoes” was the catalyst for member-centric discussions with guest participants Randy Karnes, CEO of CU*Answers, Linda Bodie, Chief Innovator at Element FCU, and Evie Rasmussen, CEO, United Financial Northwest FCU. New software, business initiatives and strategic planning were discussed in a conversation platform that encouraged participation by attendees. The annual executive briefing is designed to give a strategic update on product and network initiatives for the coming year and allow credit unions to interact directly with other credit union management teams and CU*NorthWest leaders.
CU*Northwest CEO Greg Smith briefed participants on CU*NorthWest directives for the coming year including the beginning pricing reductions, new CU*NorthWest services, and host of new products coming within the CU*BASE GOLD core product suite. CU*Northwest Vice President, Ann Joyce led a roundtable discussion on credit union success stories to end the conference.
Greg Smith said, “As a cooperative CUSO, we take our responsibility to provide complete transparency for our client/owners seriously. The conference is designed as an executive briefing for the coming year as well as an opportunity for our staff and board of directors to interact directly with client/owners. We must continually work to uphold the core principles of cooperatives – listening may be even more important than talking for us during this event”.
Washington Community Joins eDOC Innovations CUSO
eDOC Innovations, a leading provider of core image processing solutions, is excited to announce that Washington Community Credit Union, based in Washington, PA, has joined eDOC Innovations as a new CUSO owner.
Bret Weekes, President and CEO of eDOC Innovations comments, “We believe in the Buy CUSO business model, need it, build it, use it and own it. Investing in our CUSO empowers credit unions to defend their capital investments in technology and participate in the future of their software solution.”
Washington Community Credit Union is eDOC Innovations’ 23rd CUSO owner. eDOC Innovations, partnered with the cuasterisk.com network, advocates cooperative principles and the value of the CUSO business model to credit unions nationwide. For more information on how you can Buy CUSO visit http://cuasterisk.com/buy-cuso/.
CU*SOUTH Converts Newark Firemen FCU to CU*BASE® Core
Newark Firemen FCU (NFFCU) has completed their conversion to the CU*BASE GOLD core platform with CU*SOUTH.
With the lights of Manhattan shining across the Passaic River, Newark Firemen FCU serves over 2,100 members with $18M in assets. Organized in 1940, NFFCU was chartered to serve the firefighters of the City of Newark, as well as their families. In 2006, a SEG expansion extended service to the firefighters of Irvington Township.
Outstanding member service is of the utmost importance to NFFCU, especially as the men and women firefighters of both Newark and Irvington risk their lives on a daily basis.
“Visit any firehouse in this area, and you’ll see memorials to the heroes of 9/11,” says CU*SOUTH CEO Leo Vaulin. “CU*SOUTH is proud to serve the members of two firefighter credit unions in northern New Jersey – Newark Firemen FCU and Elizabeth (NJ) Firemen’s FCU.”
With its mission to be the “go-to” financial institution for the fire departments, one of the new system’s greatest feature updates was It’s Me 247 online banking, including mobile, text, online membership applications, and loan applications with auto-decisioning options.
“One of the key selling points for serving our members with the CU*BASE platform was the amount of online capability,” says NFFCU CEO Gene Benick. “These functions make it easy for firefighters to post transactions, even from the firehouse.”
Keeping up with the changing needs of the CU’s members was a priority in Mr. Benick’s decision to upgrade core systems to CU*SOUTH: “We fed our old system data, data, data… but got very little in return. With CU*BASE, we feed it data that then helps us better serve our members.”
Mr. Benick is no stranger to core conversions: “I was very impressed by the amount of preparation by the CU*SOUTH staff. In past experiences, conversions were more like, ‘Here’s this number, and does it agree with that number?’ There’s a lot more to it, and CU*SOUTH’s attention to detail made me very confident.”
Partnering with a Credit Union Service Organization (CUSO) made for an easier training experience.
“Our training was conducted by CU*SOUTH staff who actually work in a credit union. They’ve been in the trenches, and they know what it’s like. That made it very easy for our staff to relate.”
Dividend to CU*NorthWest Stockholders
CU*NorthWest and its board of directors approved and distributed a dividend to its stockholders during the stockholder Annual Meeting, held in conjunction with the 2014 Leadership Conference at Northern Quest Resort on June 25th. This is the third consecutive year that the CU*NorthWest’s board of directors has declared a dividend and also maintained steady stock value growth. The CUSO, founded in 2005 is now selling stock for twice the original offering.
Todd Powell, CU*Northwest board member says, “CU*Northwest has successfully transitioned from the start up phase to the growth phase. We’ve met or exceeded all of our projections to this point and have positioned the company to successfully continue expansion in the Western United States. The credit unions we serve are realizing the benefits of using a true cooperative for their data processing services.”
Family First FCU Buys Stock at CU*NorthWest
CU*NorthWest, the Liberty Lake, Washington-based cooperative CUSO announced that it has added a new credit union owner. The latest investor is Family First Federal Credit Union, a 2,200 member CU located in Great Falls, Montana.
Curtis Heyamoto, Business Development said, “Family First FCU marks the 20th owner at CU*NorthWest. Every credit union processing with CU*NorthWest has the ability to acquire an equitable ownership share and voting right regardless of member- or asset-size.”
CU*Answers Announces Cost of Compliance Contest
In an major effort to push credit unions, vendors, and third parties to develop some classic models for analyzing and designing a new future for compliance execution, CU*Answers, the 100% credit union-owned cooperative is sponsoring two contests that offer to pay a total of $10,000 to make it happen. “The time to complain about the ‘ghost’ cost of compliance is over,” says CEO Randy Karnes, “It’s time to act! Every income statement should call these costs out in black and white. What would your examiner say the next time he sees the mounting cost of examinations is documented and discussed in board minutes? Advertising that you track to attack in every P&L statement is priceless!”
AuditLink, the CUSO’s audit and compliance arm, announced that they will hold two contests to develop a template to account for the cost of compliance and then to put it into practice. The first contest begins on July 8th and revolves around getting CEOs, CFOs, and compliance professionals to develop an outline and process to actually account for compliance related costs. Deadline for entry is September 30th.
Beginning January 1, 2015, the second contest will revolve around the application of the templates in a real world environment in which compliance expenses are actually accounted for and recognized on the expense statement. Each contest will have three winners with first place receiving $2,500, second place receiving $1,500, and third receiving $1,000.
“We want to call out the teams that try, not just whine. If we have to pay people to get started then it’s money well spent. Innovation does not come from complaining about our circumstances—it comes from taking the first step to change them,” Karnes concludes.
CU*Answers and Accenture Mortgage Cadence Growth
West Michigan-based core processor, CU*Answers, announced a 23% growth in the number of mortgage application and processing sites through Accenture/Mortgage Cadence’ Loan Fulfilment Center.
Since 2006, CU*Answers has been a value added reseller of the first cloud-based, inclusive mortgage lending solution to the credit union industry offered by Accenture/Mortgage Cadence, formerly Prime Alliance Solutions, Inc.
Over the fiscal year 2014 to date, the number of individual sites built and supported by CU*Answers’ Lender*RE team increased from 53 to 65, representing a 23% increase. These sites generated 6369 mortgage applications and 2890 mortgage closings, with a combined volume of $375 million for both individual clients and CUSO’s. CU*Answers is dedicated to assisting client CU’s with their lending strategies by enhancing their portfolio lending efforts and providing access to Secondary Market Lending via a custom LOS at a competitive price point.
CUSO Tests Ability to Step On SaaS Computing Accelerator
CU*Answers, Inc., a Grand Rapids, Michigan-based cooperative CUSO, recently completed a test of its ability to add immediate computing power to support users of the CUSO’s online CU*BASE® core data processing environment. During the test, additional CPU and memory resources were non-disruptively activated from a stand-by to live state and the process was documented as part of CU*Answers’ business resiliency plan.
According to CUSO Chief Information Officer Jody Karnes, the project represented another milestone in her team’s ability to manage both “micro and sustained“ need for additional core processing bandwidth as demand for CU*BASE continues on a steady growth path. “When we invested in new IBM core technology a year ago, we worked with their technical team to ensure we were able to leverage the Capacity Upgrade on Demand (CUoD) capability of their enterprise-grade POWERi servers,” said Ms. Karnes. “Although we had yet to experience a business need to activate the additional throughput, it was important to document and test the process as not only a critical component of our business continuity strategy, but also re-enforce to our customer-owners our commitment to their business plans and growth strategies.”
Ms. Karnes concluded by noting that her teams planned to incorporate CUoD exercises as part of the CUSO’s ongoing business resiliency testing.
AuditLink Records Increase in ACH and BSA Audits
In 2011, AuditLink, the audit and compliance division of CU*Answers, launched an auditing service for clients using the CU*BASE® core system. Since every financial institution is required to conduct an annual Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and an Automated Clearing House (ACH) audit, CU*Answers tapped the knowledge of Jim Vilker, a NAFCU Certified Compliance Specialist (NCCO) and Marsha Sapino, an Accredited ACH Professional (AAP), to utilize their knowledge of BSA, ACH, and the core system to add these auditing services to clients. The number of audits performed has steadily increased each year.
In 2011 AuditLink had three ACH and two BSA audits. 2012 grew to five ACH and six BSA audits and 2013 brought in six ACH and seven BSA audits. This year, AuditLink is right on track to exceed the prior years, having already scheduled six ACH and seven BSA audits. “Word is getting around that we have this competitively priced service to offer. We also offer a 10% discount for clients that sign a three year contract and many have taken advantage of that deal.” said Sapino, “We are confident that the numbers will continue to grow”.
Credit Unions Proving Valuable ROI with Social Media
Chatter Yak!, the Oshkosh, Wisconsin based CUSO specializing in marketing, social media, website development and branding shares remarkable results its clients are experiencing using Yak! Tracker, their premium contest application, which allows credit unions to run contests on social media platforms.
Just this week, Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union in Houston, TX used Yak! Tracker to run a contest on Facebook. Within 2 short hours of launching their iPad Giveaway, Cy-Fair CU gained 442 new Likes on Facebook. (As this press release was being written, Cy-Fair CU had jumped up to 488 new fans. It should be noted that their contest has another 21 days to go.) Complex Community Federal Credit Union in Cypress, TX launched their first Yak! Tracker based contest on April 10, 2014, and has gained an astounding 967 new Likes by giving away an iPad.
MidUSA Credit Union in Middletown, OH put a philanthropic spin on their most recent contest by giving away $200 to one random winner. The prize was awarded as $100 to the winner and the additional $100 was gifted to a charity of the winner’s choice. Not only was MidUSA’s contest a great example of community outreach, it was a great generator of leads for them. From this contest, MidUSA gained 212 new Likes on Facebook, 13 new loan leads, a closed $10k signature loan, a closed $5k credit card, a home equity loan, and 2 members registered for MidUSA’s Home Advantage Program.
CitizensFirst Credit Union in Oshkosh, WI has been using Yak! Tracker to run contests for the last year and has consistently proven ROI. Their initial strategic goal was to grow their fan base, which they have more than done. Since January of ’13, CitizensFirst has grown their Likes by more than 3900, making them #47 on the list of The Top 100 Credit Unions With The Most New Likes put out by The Financial Brand in April of 2014. Most recently, CitizensFirst has been proving ROI by generating new loan leads. In March of 2014, they closed an additional $117k in loan revenue by generating leads through a Yak! Tracker based contest. In April of 2014, 45 new loan leads were generated with another contest. (Number of loans closed and dollar amount not available when press release was issued.)
Credit unions are finally learning to think strategically about social media and proving that it is no longer optional to have a presence on social media platforms. It’s crucial to your marketing plan. Consultants at Chatter Yak! are training credit unions daily on all things social; contests, social media plans, social media policies, how to build a fan base, and most importantly, compliance. The FFIEC (Federal Financial Institution Examination Council) strongly suggests that financial institutions have in place a Risk Management Program, and part of that program is to provide training for their employees. The FFIEC’s Guidelines for Social Media Compliance were released on December 11, 2013 and can be found at www.ffiec.gov.
CU*Answers Introducing More Ratios to Call Report Tool
Continuing to build upon the concept of enterprise risk management (ERM), CU*Answers is introducing more ratios to the 5300 Call Report Ratios Dashboard, as well as a categorization of each. The new ratio categories are; credit risk, liquidity risk, interest rate risk, productivity and profitability, canary and other FPR. Canary ratios are benchmark ratios which have been used in the banking industry for years by regulators to assess risk.
Jim Vilker, VP of Professional Services and head of the CU*Answers compliance division, stated “Our plan is to build a complete set of tools to assist you in your evolving risk management strategies. These ratios are a critical part of risk management as they are used to establish thresholds in differing areas of operation”.
“Spirit of CU*Answers” Award Goes to Pathways Financial CU
At their 2014 Leadership Conference on June 18th, CU*Answers recognized Pathways Financial CU, in Columbus, Ohio, as the winner of the 4th annual “Spirit of CU*Answers” award, for their innovative use of collaboration and cooperation. Pathways CEO Mike Shafer accepted the award, explaining to the assembled group of nearly 200 credit union leaders how three CUs in central Ohio came together to build a new organization that could to deliver more value, better service, and improved convenience for their members, while still retaining their unique brand identity.
Shafer said that while they aren’t the first credit union to use this branding strategy, “We have done our best to customize the strategy in a way that fits our members, our credit union and our market.” Since the original merger, two additional Ohio credit unions have joined the Pathways family. But mergers don’t necessarily need to be the end game. According to Shafer, the definition of partnership for Pathways is, “being willing to help other credit unions to be successful without an expectation of a future strategic merger possibility.”
The Spirit of CU*Answers award, established in 2011, recognizes a client credit union for excellence in a variety of areas. In addition to the focus on collaboration and cooperation exemplified by this year’s winner, the award also allows the CUSO to recognize credit unions who have strong volunteer programs, who’ve demonstrated particularly strong execution and performance or a high level of adoption of CU*Answers tools, who have found new ways to demonstrate commitment to the 7 Cooperative Principles, or who’ve started new businesses in the network.
CU*Answers Announces 2014 Video Contest Winners
CU*Answers, the 100% credit union-owned cooperative CUSO, announced at its 2014 Leadership Conference the winners of its 7th Annual Video contests for Best Video Idea, Best 30 Second Spot Idea, and Best Completed Video. The winning contributors, all employees of credit unions on the CU*BASE® core processing platform, each won $1,500 for their credit union.
The theme for this year’s contests was “Walking in the Members’ Shoes” and CU*Answers reported 48 entries were received from credit union employees. CU*Answers also produced their own Industry Short with Fulvew Productions using the same theme. All winning videos premiered on the big screen for the attendees at CU*Answers Leadership Conference held at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The winners are:
- Best Video Idea – Brandt Becker, Community West CU, Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Best 30 Second Video Idea – Patty Sarne, San Antonio Citizens FCU, San Antonio, Florida
- Best Completed Video – Travis Livingood, Glacier Hills CU, West Bend, Wisconsin
This year’s winning videos can be viewed online at http://cuanswers.com/lc2014/ or view a full collection of videos CU*Answers has produced for credit unions to use on their website, lobby monitors, and some suited for television broadcast at www.cuatv.com. Be sure to click on the Industry Short link as well at http://cuatv.com/category/industry-shorts/.