Consolidating All Loan Types On 1 Platform Boosts Volume

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Various breeds of loan at Beacon Credit Union are now corralled under one documentation platform, resulting in superior accuracy, according to Todd Beehler, vice president of agricultural, commercial and consumer lending at the 30,000-member credit union.

"A lot of vendors offer one documentation platform that's great for consumer lending," Beehler explained. "We now use one legitimate platform for all types of loans."

Beacon started using ARTA Lending for Credit Unions from Bankers Systems, Inc. last year. The software contains the necessary documents-and ensures compliance-for the CU's $290-million consumer, real estate, agricultural and business loan program.

"With ARTA, we have a lot more confidence in security interests and the quality of documentation," Beehler said. "We get things done right the first time," he added.

ARTA eases documentation by pre-selecting required documents according to loan type. Browser-based templates guide employees through Beacon's customized loan transactions, automatically populated with fees, charges, accrual methods and repayment methods.

"ARTA takes the guesswork out of which documentation to choose," Beehler observed. "Document fields won't be missed or misinterpreted." Only senior management can change the content of pre-set fields, which are password-protected.

Previously, Beacon used disparate documentation systems for each type of loan. Not only did the disparate systems complicate employee training, but they required a degree of manual document preparation, Beehler said.

Work In Triplicate

For example, employees had to feed triplicate copies of consumer loans forms into dot-matrix printers, and type their own copies of some compliance and real estate documents. In addition, the real estate software was DOS-based.

Compliance was also laborious. "We needed to do the bulk of compliance manually. We searched for updates and relied on vendors. We had to run things through local attorneys."

Beacon now looks to ARTA's legal department for compliance support. "We rely on ARTA for compliance close to 100% of the time," said Tina Byerly, vice president of Mortgage Lending at Beacon.

In addition, compliance documents, such as ARM disclosures on real estate loans, are pulled and updated automatically, said Byerly.

In its 78 years, Beacon Credit Union has carved a niche funding agricultural loans within its largely rural community charter, said Beehler. In seven years, Beacon has grown to $530 million in assets from $230 million.

ARTA gave Beacon the confidence to continue expanding, said Beehler. "We now have the proper tools to get the job done, so we feel better about going out and obtaining more business."

Beehler thinks the next seven years will put Beacon over $1 billion. "The more we expand, the more our products appeal to new member-businesses. We've been able to cater to small business owners looking for financing solutions, which has helped us to grow tremendously."

Beacon plans to integrate its core processing system with ARTA by year's end, Beehler added. That way, established member data will be automatically populate a new loan document; likewise, new loan data will be stored in the core system.

"The core system interface will definitely increase the speed of the transaction, require fewer keystrokes and cut the potential for error," he said.

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