1 CU's Efforts To Stay Ahead On Tech

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Credit Union: Greater El Paso's Credit Union

Nominated By: Aurum Technology, Plano, Texas

Nominated For: Solution Implementation

With average membership growth of 1,000 members per month, Greater El Paso's Credit Union has had to be ready to offer innovative products and services-as well as outstanding member service-at the drop of a dime.

And that has meant the $920-million CU needed a technology partner that was always just ahead of the curve.

"Working with Aurum (Technologies) has allowed us to grow our product mix because they've always grown ahead of us," said Harriet May, CEO of GECU. "They offered indirect lending before we were ready to get into indirect lending, they were hooked up with Fannie (Mae) and Freddie (Mac) before we were ready to get into real estate loans. Every time we were ready to move on something, they were already there ahead of us."

And that's helped GECU become a force in the market place each time it has added a new product or service line.

Controlling The Market

"We've been in indirect lending now for about eight years, and we essentially control indirect lending in our market place. We've got about 20% penetration, and that's quite high," May noted.

GECU is fast increasing each member's wallet share. From 1997 to 2002, GECU's assets increased by more than 65%. The credit union is currently the No. 1 area retail financial institution based on member size.

The 229,000-member credit union's relationship with Aurum spans more than a decade, but ironically enough, the technology firm wasn't originally on GECU's list of potential partners when it was shopping for a new DP solution, May related.

"We'd been on a bank system since 1969, and we had just made that work, even though it really wasn't tailored for a credit union. When we were looking for a new system, Aurum wasn't on out list at the time, but they came to us and made us take a look," she explained. "And when we took a look, we realized they were worth a second look. A lot of what we were trying to develop in house they already had ready to go."

For as much as Aurum has had a knack for staying just ahead of GECU's needs, the credit union is careful to make sure it's always getting the best possible fit when it comes time to add something new.

"They always seem to be ready for our next move, but that doesn't mean their system meets 100% of our needs," May commented. "There's been a lot of talk about finding 'best of breed,' and we've been able to do that and then interface it with our system. We've got the flexibility to add best of breed, and that's important."

Indeed, it is this flexibility that is a part of GECU's success. "When you're looking for a technology partner, you have to look for flexibility," she offered. "You have to be able to offer your members innovative products and services, and to do that, you have to have flexibility. You have to make sure that your DP system isn't the limiting factor that's keeping you from success. So often, the DP is a limiting system, but if you can find a flexible partner, it doesn't have to be, and it shouldn't be."

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