FORUM Solutions CUSO Continues 'Organic' Growth
INDIANAPOLIS -- Six years and 36 client credit union partners later, FORUM Solutions continues to build on the success of its flagship lending and online banking platforms.
The CUSO of $975 million FORUM Credit Union was launched in the fall of 2000 after developing in-house an automated lending platform now known as TAPS Enterprise Lending. (TAPS stands for "total account processing system.")
Incorporating what the staff gleaned from its third-annual user group meeting in September, the staff is now moving forward with new products that include an automated account opening solution and a real-time internal data collection system.
"We're proud of our growth," CUSO President Doug True says. "It's been organic, and we've been profitable since our inception. But we measure ourselves not in the number of partners we have. It's about how we serve them and is our software making a difference."
Enough of a difference, apparently, that the CUSO's revenue continues its upward trajectory, from $1.1 million in 2002 to a projected $2.8 million this year. And from its original two employees--True and COO Cam Minges--the organization has grown to 32 staffers, 24 of them primarily dedicated to the CUSO and eight to the parent CU.
In addition to clients, CUNA and the trade group's technology council have recognized the CUSO with awards for lending and best practices, and True, who joined FORUM CU in 1988, was named CUES' Technology Executive of the Year in 2004. He also is an inaugural member of i3, a Filene Institute group working to stimulate innovation through the "next generation" credit union leaders. FORUM clients also have shown innovation, True points out, customizing the TAPS software to fit their particular needs. "One credit union is using it to accept and evaluate employment applications," he says. "Another is using the software to function like a 'concierge' that cross-sells and suggests other products to members."
Recent developments have been new functionality such as account opening complete with such necessities as OFAC screening and indirect lending connections to DealerTrack and CUDL.
"The costs to acquire a new member are huge, in relative terms," Minges says. "Our new products will drastically slash those costs, quickly identify the potential of a new member application and instantly identify the best cross-selling opportunities."
True says open architecture allowed the platform to be developed in about 60 days and that work continues on finding more ways to access valuable information stored in disparate places. "We're calling it Roundabout as a code name for now, and it's an alternative to data warehousing. What it does is go out and collect data from multiple systems like the mortgage software, your core system, the TAPS lending platform, and displays that in a real-time, Web-based setting," True says.
"You can use it in different ways, such as identifying good products to offer to members and to do something like making a simple address change across multiple systems," he says. "There are a lot of companies out there that offer aggregation or data warehouses. This is different. It's not replicating any data or aggregating it. We're accessing the data where it needs to be and using it in real time."
Both FORUM CU and $487 million Vantage Credit Union in Bridgeton, Mo., one of the CUSO's partners, are rolling out that system soon.
FORUM Solutions' clients range in size up to $1.6 billion Travis Credit Union in California. All 36 are running the TAPS Enterprise Lending platform, about 60% of them in-house, the rest as an ASP. Consulting also has become a major activity for the CUSO, helping primarily with lending and integration projects.
"We don't get hung up on market share," says True. "Our growth is word of mouth. People realize we're a CUSO and that that's what we're all about. We learn from our partners. We're really very much a collaborative, a credit union-spirit kind of company.
"And we're very proud of that." --firstname.lastname@example.org