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<p>WALTHAM, Mass. – Data processing CUSO Credit Union On-Line may be a niche player doing business in six states – New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut – but that doesn’t mean it can’t compete with the big boys, says president/CEO Connie Boretti. Boretti was with CUOL’s precursor Cambridge Online Services, a subsidiary of Cambridge Trust Company, when she and three credit unions completed a purchase buyout of the company in 1994 after Cambridge Online Services decided to no longer provide data processing services to credit unions through its then credit union division. The new incorporated company became known as Credit Union On-Line Inc. Boretti recalled the work that was involved during the transition period that followed. Cambridge Online Services had been an NCR shop running on NCR systems. CUOL, meanwhile was running a Unisys-based system. “Not only did we have to maintain two systems during the conversion, which carried a big expense, we also had to learn about the new Unisys system,” said Borette. CUOL wound up converting 17 credit unions in 15 months, “and that was no small undertaking,” said Boretti. The company also had to choose as data processing system. It initially considered more than 100, and after narrowing it down to about a dozen, CUOL eventually selected to go with Liberty Fitech because of the quality of the company’s products and services. CUOL currently supports FiTECH’s Manager GoldT system. Today, Credit Union On-Line is owned equally by Boretti and three Massachusetts credit unions – RTN FCU, Waltham; Unified FCU, Peabody; and Medical Area FCU, Boston. Two other CUOL employees also have shares in the CUSO, but Boretti said they were “small”. And instead of the members of CUOL’s board reporting directly to Cambridge Trust, as it did back in the days when it was Cambridge Online Services, CUOL’s board now reports to the CEOs of the credit unions it handles the processing for. “They’re the ones that have a vested interest in data processing and the company,” said Boretti, “There’s no better motivation for quality performance than to have the owners of the CUSO sitting on the board.” Richard Wright, CEO/treasurer of RTN FCU recalled the moods of concern and apprehension that permeated the CUSO when it first opened its doors for business. “Even though we knew Connie from her years of work with Cambridge Online Services and knew she understood the data processing world, we were still a startup. Some of us were worried we wouldn’t make a go of it.” The past eight years have proven them wrong. “CUOL has been profitable from day one,” Wright said. He added that, “If I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t have the money at the time to become the CUSO’s sole owner.” Prior to the purchase buyout of Cambridge Online Services, the $241 million RTN FCU had been the company’s largest credit union client. CUOL now works out of 9,000 square feet of office space it leases in RTN’s headquarters. Boretti and her 20-member CUOL team are coming off their biggest year ever. The company realized an 18% net growth in 2001, and its total assets (unaudited) last year were $3.5 million, up from $3.1 million in 2000; its total liability was $1.8 million, and total capital, $1.6 million. “The whole credit union industry has changed, it’s more technology based and it needs more technical expertise and member service. Credit unions, especially smaller ones, are in a survival state now. They need to be able to compete, and technology has given them the ability to do so by offering the same products and services larger credit unions do,” said Boretti. [email protected]</p>

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