New CUSO Gathers Teammates to Tackle Lending Crunch
When practice fields across the land filled in August with players prepping for the upcoming new school year, a lending CUSO had already hit the field with a team of its own.
Credit Union Student Choice has only been in business for three years, but the turnkey provider of college student lending services already is handling around 15,000 loans a year.
The Washington CUSO-run by Callahan & Associates senior managers and owned by about 40 credit unions-has only about a dozen full-time employees but counts on several partners to make the peak lending season work for the more than 160 credit unions it serves.
"We do about 90% of our volume in a two-week period, about 80% of it in eight weeks. To be able to handle that we actually have about 130 people working for us at our peak," said Jon Jeffreys, CUSC's president and an architect of the program from its inception.
That team comprises CUSC's people, of course, along with PSCU Financial Services of St. Petersburg, Fla., Credit Union Direct Corp. of Ontario, Calif., and Finivation, a New York City software specialist led by credit union and community bank veteran technologist Brian Bodell.
California-based CUDL provides the automated lending platform. Call center and other support services come from PSCU, primarily from its Phoenix and suburban Detroit locations, and Finivation provides the tech support and software needed to cyber glue that infrastructure together.
Jen Franta, a relationship manager at PSCU's Total Member Care call center operations in Detroit, said her organization uses dedicated agents for the CUSC program, increasing the staffing for peak volume times and assigning them to other clients at other times.
"They're not just getting calls for CU Student Choice but they're highly trained and know that program very well and have been with them since the beginning," she said. And as more experience and data are gathered, "we're getting a better grasp of potential call volume and the appropriate staffing we need to deal with that scale."
Meanwhile, helping to engineer the kind of technology infrastructure that enables CUSC and its far-flung partners to work with their growing customer pool and seasonal work ebbs and flows is a sweet spot for Bodell.
"Software is a leaving, breathing organism that needs to adapt and evolve with business needs," said Bodell, who made his mark in the credit union industry with qbt Systems, a middleware pioneer.