Stanford FCU Demos Account Aggregation Success

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Account aggregation isn't dead-just look to the the number of users of the service at Stanford Federal Credit Union.

"We probably have three to four times the penetration of other financial institutions," said Sam Tuohey, vice president of information services at the $440-million credit union.

Meanwhile, industry analysts seem to have given up even making predictions about U.S. adoption rates, even as Cornerstone Advisors, Inc.'s GonzoBanker advisory team calls aggregation a "crummy technology."

Most consumers haven't rushed to consolidate their online relationships at their credit union's and/or bank's websites either. A credit union is lucky if 4% of its membership uses aggregation.

But at Stanford Federal Credit Union more than 10% of its 11,000 online members actively use the service. That's because using aggregation at the 40,000-member CU is a no-brainer, according to Tuohey. "The simplest way to put it is that we've made it very easy for members."

Stanford FCU has run Palo Alto-based Teknowledge Corp.'s TekPortal aggregation platform in-house for almost one year.

Every time Stanford FCU online banking members log-in, they are pitched with a "quasi-newsletter" message reminding them about various financial services, including aggregation.

And when members decide to sign up, they can do so online, Tuohey continued. "Once you're logged in, you just click on the Manage Accounts button, and fill out a tiny online form that takes you about 10 seconds."

Clicking on the account aggregation page is a seamless experience for members, he added. "The interface is not jarring, you are not poked through a frame, and there is no separate log-in."

The aggregation product is billed as part of CU Online Plus at Stanford FCU, a "non-jarring" extension of the home banking product, CU Online. "That way, aggregation is put across as better, but not so different."

At some credit unions, aggregation can be nothing more than an attractive hood ornament.

"Other credit unions turn it on, and say, 'If you're interested, stop by or apply for it over the telephone,'" Tuohey said. "But members don't want to call and wait on hold."

Aggregation may languish, particularly at those CUs offering an ASP version, according to Steve Zorn, director of marketing at Teknowledge.

"It's out of sight, out of mind, if you choose an ASP model," said Zorn.

Tuohey, on the other hand, "is committed to aggregation," Zorn said. "It's something he's living and breathing on a daily basis."

Just what does Tuohey see in aggregation? "Our members want it and need it," he said. "I want my member to log- in and see their Wells Fargo and Bank of America accounts on my website, as well as seeing my car deals and my loans instead of Bank of America's and Wells Fargo's."

In addition, aggregation is part of Tuohey's 10-year plan to "let members know how they're doing in relationship to their financial goals. We can contrast their aggregated information with the goals they have set for themselves. We can offer them some suggestions and best practices for their financial resources."

This quarter, Stanford Federal Credit Union is on a campaign to recruit even more users, Tuohey added. "Our goal is to get 5,000 new online banking users, and more than 10% of those members using aggregation."

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