HOLYOKE, Mass. -- A positive response to the credit crunch combined with adept technology in the back shop is helping Holyoke Credit Union compete and win in what its CEO called a very overbanked market.
"Our philosophy has always been, 'Let's put good loans on the books,'" said Mike
Murphy, president/CEO of the $110 million credit union (www.holyokecu.com).
"With that mindset and our strong risk-management process, we find plenty of good opportunities," Murphy said.
The result has been just as much if not more mortgage business now than before the subprime crisis hit, the CU said.
The ability to use its core processor for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac processing also has been key, said Jay Wolohan, Holyoke CU's executive vice president.
"Those products are the cornerstone of our growth," Wolohan said. "COCC gives us the product and processing capabilities of a $30 billion bank. Prior to COCC, we had to build our products from scratch on an in-house system. Now we select the features we want and implement."
Overall, Holyoke CU has seen its membership (now 12,768) increase ten-fold and its assets triple in the 11 years since it switched to a community charter and its diverse membership from low income to well-to-do requires a "broader product line than most credit unions offer," Murphy said.
That includes business products, mortgage loan servicing, reverse mortgages and safe deposit services.
"The foundation of our success is our aggressive introduction of products that consumers need and want," Murphy said.
Wolohan said COCC, a Connecticut-based provider of core processing and other electronic services to about 150 credit unions and community banks, has also played a pivotal role in supporting product and member growth.
"We needed a data processing company that could take us into the future," Wolohan said. "We selected COCC in 1999 and have never looked back."
Recent challenges include adjusting to member behaviors while raising noninterest income. Overdraft privilege was one new product that helped in the regard, as has total-view technology that helps separate those who regularly use the service from those who rarely do.
"We have adopted a Money Smart program to work the occasional user out of the overdraft privilege product," Wolohan said.
The total view tools also include data mining which the Holyoke CU executive vice president said is used to track member accounts in a variety of ways.
"Our staff is excited by the ability to drill down and find data," Wolohan said. "We add to our reports library all the time."
Wolohan and Murphy said they also depend on their core technology provider to perform product due diligence and help keep up with compliance demands.
"We're a small shop with expertise in lending and member services," Murphy said. "To have the majority of compliance and product research and development taken off of our due diligence plate is huge. It allows us to do what we know best."