Twenty-five years after Theresa Benavidez converted Cabrillo Credit Union and its CEO, Robin Lentz, to Symitar's core processing platform, Benavidez and Lentz are doing it again.
Lentz's $171 million San Diego credit union is the first to sign up for the KeyStone core processing platform from Corelation Inc., a new San Diego company of which Benavidez is president.
"This will be a very different conversion. There are ATM and disaster recovery systems and things like that we didn't have to deal with 25 years ago. Cabrillo is all grown up now, and things are a lot different," Benavidez said.
Symitar was later sold to Jack Henry & Associates and has become a major presence in credit union core processing.
One of Symitar's co-founders and an architect of its original platform, John Landis, is the founder of Corelation and architect of its new core processing platform, which has hit the market after four years of development.
Cabrillo CU is scheduled to go live on the new system next April 1, Lentz and Benavidez said.
"It certainly is ironic, but it's exciting to get in on the ground floor again," said Lentz, Cabrillo's CEO for the past 30 years. "When we went first with Symitar we had a lot of opportunity to give input into the creation of that system, and now we have had that again."
The second KeyStone signee-the $84 million Harbor Federal Credit Union of Carson, Calif.-actually will go live on the system first, a launch scheduled for next Feb. 1. Harbor also is a current Symitar client.
"We heard about Corelation and checked them out a recent conference. We really liked its open system because it allows us to interact with any vendor out there," Harbor CEO Tina Fugelsang said.
That openness is a cornerstone of the KeyStone platform, Benavidez said. For instance, the application programming interface that credit unions will use to connect to third-party vendors is the same one the Corelation staff uses.
"All the messages are built out; all they have to do is code them," Benavidez said. "Once we're established a little more we'll probably have a vendor list we recommend but right now we want the credit unions to bring their vendors to us, and we'll see how these relationships develop."
Fugelsang and Lentz also cited the new system's browser-based functionality and member-centricity as factors in their decision to adopt.
The system's holistic approach allows credit unions to create a member name once and then have a 360-degree view of all relationships with that member, Benavidez said.
The inclusion of such features as core items that are add-on modules from other processors helps keep costs down and the KeyStone system competitive, Benavidez said.
Lentz said that also was a factor in her decision to commit to Corelation.
She said Cabrillo had "a really good relationship with Symitar for 25 years. It's a great system, and we weren't really looking to make this kind of huge change, but our IT department really felt like this was the system of the future and they were ready to move on."
She added, "I've known John [Landis] and Theresa [Benavidez] for 25 years and have a lot of confidence in them, but I'm not going to do anything that doesn't make sense financially, especially in this economic environment."
Benavidez echoed that sentiment. She said she and Landis intentionally did not approach Lentz about using their platform, "because we didn't want her to feel any kind of obligation. But we were ecstatic when she came to us, and even more when she decided to go with us."
"We know there's a lot of personal trust going on here, but it's also business," she said. Corelation is now focused on helping new clients go live-hopefully, she said, at a pace of one every couple months in the first year and once a month after that.
That involves adding staff and moving to a bigger office while finishing development and integration work in time for the 2011 launches.