Stanford FCU Is Beefing Up Business Accounts

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PALO ALTO, Calif.-Stanford Federal Credit Union has partnered with New York-based Newtek Business Services to offer an expanded line-up to small business.

"What Newtek helps us do is provide services we don't have in house, such as merchant services, website design and hosting, and payroll," said Celeste Auger-Munshi, director of member business services. "For our credit union to give the small business member a value-add beyond a checking account, a debit card, online banking and business bill-payer, is a big deal. Even if the company does not need everything-say it already has a website-there are other needs and Newtek helps us deliver e-commerce solutions."

Auger-Munshi told Credit Union Journal she first learned of Newtek at a PSCU-hosted conference in San Diego three years ago. At the same time, some of Stanford FCU's business members that were with another merchant payment company mentioned Newtek's pricing was much more beneficial to them and saved them money.

"We happened to be looking for a partner in business services, and we really liked the company's offerings," she recalled. "Once our members signed on with Newtek, they were very happy with the service they received-which is very important from my perspective. Even though the feedback I received during due-diligence was fairly neutral, every one that we know of has been extremely pleased with Newtek."

Among the positives Auger-Munshi cited about Newtek: it is easy for Stanford FCU's sales staff to track referrals, which she said is a "rare find." The company is also "very responsive" to the credit union's needs, including offering marketing materials.

"More importantly, when a member had a problem one time it was solved immediately, despite the fact Newtek is on another coast," she said. "Usually, when a vendor works with both banks and credit unions, the service level as a customer can be less than what we give to our own members. We expect the same when we pay for services and usually don't get it, but Newtek does. The company really is a partner with our credit union."

The company offers Newtek SiteCenter, which is designed to support business owners when they launch, upgrade and maintain their presence in the e-commerce market.

According to Newtek, the SiteCenter is a bilingual, user-friendly, do-it-yourself web product with more than 1,000 design schemes in addition to e-commerce features.

Stanford FCU did not experience much in the way of growth in member business services last year due to the economy, but Auger-Munshi said from the beginning of 2010 there has been much more activity.

"People are starting new businesses; getting into second careers and what not. Many of these are e-commerce businesses, plus apps for cell phones, electronic products and social networking. We are in the Silicon Valley, and it is happening here. It doesn't take a huge company to do these things, and in many cases it is just a second job for members."

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