'Fixing The Pain' Has Nearly Doubled CUSO's Clientele

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The Wescom Resources Group (WRG) more than doubled its client base last year, "fixing the pain" at nearly 60 credit unions nationwide, according to management at Wescom Credit Union's CUSO.

For WRG, the mission is clear: "If a process is painful, we do everything we can to automate it," said John Best, director of Technology and Development at WRG.

WRG isn't the only CUSO experiencing a heyday. CUSOs such as eCU Technologies in Harrisburg, Penn. and CU*Answers in Kentwood, Mich., also announced banner years in 2004.

WRG offers services such as disaster recovery and application hosting; lending products; operations products, such as an online new membership application and Skip-A-Pay; eCommerce products; and a programming development tool called CU Integrator.

As it nears its two-year anniversary, WRG told The Credit Union Journal in an exclusive interview that it has begun rolling out enhancements to its product line, upgrading its homebanking application to the Microsoft .NET platform; allowing read-only staff access to members' homebanking accounts; and linking other CU programs, such as lending and credit card systems, to homebanking, according to Best.

In addition, the WRG bill pay component now enables a flexible-biller file through Mastercard International's Remote Payment and Presentment Service, Best said.

WRG also released a CUDL (Credit Union Direct Lending) upgrade in January, designed to cut the number of loan processing steps, he added.

WRG's offerings aren't just bells and whistles, added Kevin Sarber, the CUSO's president. "The automation always stems from needs at Wescom Credit Union and our client credit unions."

The Bread & Butter

WRG's bread and butter comes from enhancing the product line at San Diego-based Symitar, which provides software systems to CUs.

"We don't make Symitar, we just make it better," explained Best, referencing the ad slogan popularized by BASF. "And Symitar considers us a strong strategic partner. We go in with Symitar to compete with other providers and attract business from larger credit unions."

Like other CUSOs, WRG has its roots in- and its hands on-CU operations. "Our advantage over other credit union vendors is that we're also a credit union, and we have the expertise in-house to know how a CU operates.

WRG prides itself on developing the Symitar enhancements in-house instead of partnering with third-parties such as APPRO Systems, Inc. for loan processing.

"We want to own and control our own destiny," Best said. "We wouldn't be able to 'fix the pain' if we partner with vendors like APPRO. It's not likely that APPRO would provide the programming code we need to make necessary changes for credit unions."

Whereas most of WRG's clients purchase product licenses, seven CUs have signed with the CUSO in a service bureau environment, Best continued. "We're not only running Wescom, but we're running day to day business for a number of credit unions."

One of WRG's unique services is ATM deposit processing, Sarber said. WRG collects deposits for 15 CUs, balances the ATM records against the deposit envelopes, provides the CUs with daily adjustment files and then generates check images, he said.

CUs have an easy and fast time integrating third-party applications to the Symitar Episys core processing system because of WRG's software development kit, CU Integrator, Best said.

The kit has grown into a community, as well, with credit unions logging onto www.cuintegrator.com to share stories and FAQs at the discussion forum, he added.

Now that homebanking and bill pay upgrades are in place and WRG has a diverse product line, Best is looking forward to 2005. "The first stage was to build our frame and foundation, but now the sky's the limit for enhancements."

CUJ Resources

For additional information on this story:

* Wescom Resources Group at www.wescomresources.com

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