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MADISON, Wis. – Open Financial Solutions’ credit union members have tried to do one thing with technology over the years – stay on the leading edge. They think they’re doing that with online wealth management solutions. OFS is a consortium of nine large credit unions – Wescom CU, Patelco CU, Bellco CU, Orange County Teachers FCU, Suncoast Schools FCU, Boeing Employees CU, First Tech, GTE FCU and U.S. Central – that collaborate on developing technology solutions. So far its largest project has been MemberBridge, essentially a middleware product that is aimed at keeping costs down on integrating third-party products with the core system. Its latest venture deals with the growing online wealth management arena. It has partnered with a firm called AdviceAmerica to offer a new set of wealth management tools that have a “credit union twist” as OFS CEO Rae Miles put it. Wealth management tools really got their start in the brokerage industry. They mean different things to different people, but essentially they are planning tools that provide scenarios based on a person’s financials. While traditional wealth management tools may have mostly been for the wealthy, Miles said what OFS is doing is for all members. “They allow a member to begin developing a financial plan. But it goes all the way to the complex area of estate planning,” said Miles. Miles said the more information a member inputs the more advice they will get. It can be as simple as seeing how $200 a month in retirement savings would accrue over 20 years as opposed to $500. Getting more complex, there is also a life event planner that can take a parent from childhood to adulthood in terms of a child’s education costs. It even has a database with a list of America’s colleges and what an education there will cost. Miles admits that OFS was surprised when GTE FCU launched the service and had 2,200 users in the first week. “Some of our leaders said they didn’t get near that response when they introduced debit cards,” said Miles. She noted another way it is given the credit union flare, is the credit union sets what kind of advice the program gives. “It doesn’t have to push members into buying this or that product like other systems, it can just give solid advice,” said Miles. Ideally however a member will contact the credit union for advice. “These tools bring it all together for the members. We want to help the member get to the point that they feel comfortable contacting one of our advisors to discuss their financial situation,” said Doug Ferraro, Chairman of OFS and CEO of Bellco. GTE FCU EVP Rich Helber said he hopes this helps members discover even the basics of financial planning. “Most consumers don’t have a financial plan of any type because they don’t know where to begin or they’re too embarrassed to admit how naive they are about their own financial situation,” said Helber. Credit unions can make it easier for members to compose plans by making their credit union data available and even data pulled from account aggregation systems, said Miles. She said credit unions need to think of it as financial planning at the member’s own pace. Instead of diving into the commitment of a financial planner, members can start slowly on their own with the help of the system. “They are really very complex systems, but simple from the member’s perspective,” said Miles. Screen shots from Suncoast Schools wealth management solution are shown on the right. [email protected]

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