Kern Schools Using Tech To Enhance Wealth Mngmt.

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A well-oiled wealth-management program runs on a wealth of technology, from automated financial plans to mobile computing, according to Larry Braley, program manager of Investment and Insurance Services at Kerns Schools FCU (KSFCU).

"All credit unions worth their salt are offering members an investment program," said Braley, who joined KSFCU two years ago. "And I can match the big competition because of technology."

The $1.5-billion CU can whip up a 100-page financial plan with color graphs, automatically populating fields with imported data from both the CU's Member Relationship Management and investment services platforms, Braley said.

"In a moment's notice, I can open an investment account for a member," he continued. "If members just have checking, it's easy to leave. But if they have checking, savings and a brokerage account, they're not going to leave."

Soon, KSFCU's investment advisors will advance "several rungs up the ladder in serving member investment needs" as they become able to instantly sweep funds between external accounts and the credit union, he said. "With FastFunds, we'll just hit a button and in seconds the funds will be transferred," Braley added. "No more ACH."

The feature will come in handy during IRA season when members quickly need to meet minimum distributions, or when a member sells stock and wants instant access to the funds, he said.

In addition, Braley is jazzed about Single Sign-On, with which online members will be able to see their KSFCU investment accounts alongside their checking and savings accounts with just one log-in at the credit union's electronic branch.

Currently, the 3,500 members using KSFCU's investment services are redirected to a separate site to view their investment accounts

"Single Sign-On is phenomenal," said Braley. "Members will get a daily update of all their credit union accounts in one place."

Evolved from a heap of manual labor and paper, KSFCU's investment technologies include financial advice models, a contact management system and Internet-based trading from San Diego-based CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (CFS).

Then there's the interface with its core system, provided by EPL, Inc. and the CRM and automated referral system, provided by Marketing Solutions, Inc. (MSI), both of Birmingham, Ala. Kerns Schools FCU is part-owner of both CFS and EPL. The MSI referral system has increased production from referrals by nearly 110% since October, said Braley.

The magic of KSFCU's web of investment technologies is that they work together to provide instant service to members, and to rally disparate data from across the CU, Braley said. "We utilize the outside values of our brokerage clients and we tie them fairly seamlessly into member data, marketing and financial planning in real-time," he said. "And the tools make the investment program seem like just another part of the CU."

Last, but apparently not least, Braley said he and his team of six financial services representatives can't do without their new handheld Treo 650 smartphones from PalmOne. "We've all gone to the Treo 650. We can constantly stay in touch with members or with CFS by email or mobile phone at work or on vacation. In the brokerage industry you have to respond now."

The price of a technologically-evolved investment program is dear, Braley continued.

"It's expensive to do what we've done, in terms of the CUSO and the technology and the staff," he said. For example, ClienTracs is licensed to the CU at $2,300 per month, he said. "But now we are producing decent fee income for the credit union that will in turn allow us to continue to grow," Braley continued.

The CU has grown to $120,000 last month in Gross Dealer Concessions from an average of $20,000 per month in 2003. Assets under management are approaching the target 4 % of the CU's total assets. "Outstanding penetration would be 7%," Braley added.

CUJ Resources

For info on this story:

* Kerns Schools FCU at www.ksfcu.org

* Market Browser at www.marketbrowser.com

* Emerald Publications (wealth management education) www.emeraldpublications.com

* CFS at www.cusonet.com

* Marketing Solutions at www.marketingsolutionsinc.com.

* ClienTracs at www.clientracs.com

* PalmOne at www.palmone.com

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