Park View Credits 20% Annual Growth In Part To Technology

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Don't feel sorry for Park View Federal Credit Union just because it has $54-million in assets.

The small CU has experienced big growth for the past 15 years, increasing its assets by 20% every year-thanks in part to reliable technology, according to John Beiler, CEO at the 27-employee CU.

"Stable technology allowed the growth," Beiler asserted. "The stability of any software is directly correlated to the degree of confidence that a member places in a financial institution. Members really notice when your systems are up or when they're down."

Park View runs on the Mercury core processing platform, which was acquired by Fidelity Integrated Financial Solutions (IFS) from Aurum Technology one year ago.

In addition to lending stability to Park View's operations, the Mercury platform also effects the bottom line, Beiler said.

"The cost of operations from Mercury allows us to have an overall expense ratio that allows us to compete with the larger financial institutions," he said.

Park View FCU serves the local Mennonite community and has "plenty of bank competition," Beiler said. "And there are two significantly bigger credit unions in our area," including a $250-million CU and a $550-million CU with community-based FOMs.

Park View's expense ratio based on average assets in 2004 was 3.37%, said Beiler. The expense ratio does not account for allowances, he added.

The small credit union will seem even bigger soon. For a "small percentage" increase in cost over the Mercury core system and homebanking platforms, Park View will launch Fidelity's EFT solution, bringing real-time transaction posting to the CU's debit, ATM and homebanking platforms, Beiler said.

As a result, the 5,800 members of Park View will be able to access real-time account information and transactions around the clock.

"That live, immediate transaction capability is something that normally differentiates a smaller from a larger institution," Beiler explained.

The EFT solution includes ATM driving, monitoring and transaction routing capabilities as well as secure debit card processing.

The CU's website offers everything a large CU might, Beiler continued. "Our products online are of equal quality and equal value."

Members can apply for "10-second loan approvals," advertises one of the website buttons, or pay credit card balances and use bill pay through third-party providers.

In addition, Park View's installation of Mercury homebanking allows members to review account history, request fund transfers and view deposits.

Beiler said the CU may implement the enhanced version, Fidelity Online Banking, which also offers online enrollment and account applications; member authentication; single check retrieval; stop payments; and bill payment. Park View can avoid bringing on expensive third party business loan software because of Mercury's flexibility, Beiler said.

The credit union s has adapted Mercury's lending program to service business loans, he continued. "In conversations I've had with other CEOs, I have found that the Mercury product is adaptable to various loan products," Beiler said.

For instance, Park View can classify accounts according to six categories, including individual member, corporate member or trust, he said.

Park View has sold about $1.3 million in business loan participations, but Beiler would like to double that amount to reach capacity, he said.

The CU also has a strong real estate lending program that runs on integrated products from the PHH Mortgage Services and CUNA Mutual Mortgage, Beiler said. "We have two full-time people committed to secondary market origination, and 60% of our entire loan portfolio is tied to real estate in one way or another."

Despite the fact that real estate loans are serviced on disparate platforms, Beiler can use Mercury's Microsoft SQL database to access the credit union's real estate portfolio, he said.

With Mercury, core processing "runs in the background," Beiler said. "Now that Fidelity owns both Mercury and Miser (a core processing system built for large financial institutions), Park View can be a benefactor. Fidelity can take what Miser has already brought to market and downsize it for small- and mid-tier credit unions."

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