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INDIANAPOLIS – FORUM Credit Union has sharply increased its consumer lending numbers since the first of the year, powered along by a new version of its home-grown software engine called TAPS. TAPS stands for Total Account Processing System, an automated lending platform first introduced in 1999 and now in use at 32 credit unions through the sales and support efforts of the $875 million CU’s CUSO, FORUM Solutions. Eight more credit unions will be added soon. They’ll be using the new version of TAPS -Version 3 – the one that has helped drive the numbers at the CUSO’s beta site, its parent credit union. The new platform integrates FORUM’s lending activities with DealerTrack, the Web-based indirect lending platform widely used by auto dealers across the country. The system enables nearly instant decisioning, which encourages dealers to offer and members and new members to choose FORUM for the loan, says Doug True, senior vice president of lending and technology at FORUM CU and president of FORUM Solutions. In the first five months of 2005, FORUM wrote $56 million in loans through indirect lending, a 128% increase over the same period in 2004, True says The TAPS system also is used throughout FORUM’s lending operations and has helped increase home equity, mortgage and direct car loan activities 42% to $150.2 million in the first five months of this year, True says. “TAPS always has had a fairly robust decision engine, but we’ve improved that, and we’ve added such features as having loans not automatically approved put in the correct underwriter queues so they’ll be done in five minutes,” the CUSO president says. Helping drive that functionality is the Ensemble universal integration platform from InterSystems Corp. of Cambridge, Mass. FORUM uses it to create business rules that facilitate swift approvals, identify potentially problem loans and identify opportunities for cross-selling. Ensemble is used in a variety of businesses because of its ability to “allow developers to build a new breed of applications that leverage the existing functionality, data and processes that already exist in an organization,” says Trevor Matz, managing director of application integration at InterSystems. Matz says Ensemble fuses four “previously independent technology steps – the data server, the integration server, the application server and the portal development environment – into one comprehensive, consistent platform that typically had involved multiple products.” That allows FORUM Solutions to work with its client credit unions to not only integrate various back end systems with their lending applications, but to modify those applications to conform to the organizations’ own rules, as well as make changes on their own without having to wait for someone from FORUM to do the coding. “It’s not just about technology,” True adds. “This allows credit unions to be cognizant of trends in their own portfolio and empowers them to not make the same mistakes over and over again. We are constantly trying to educate our credit unions to learn from good and bad loans alike, and to take those lessons and apply them on the front end,” he says. The technology learns, too. For instance, the TAPS platform is now better able to organize multidimensional scoring and review indicators in ways that help underwriters better utilize those tools, using parameters that can be set by the individual credit union, True says. “For example, if a debt ratio is over a certain limit or there’s something off the credit report that hits a predetermined level of concern, such as number of credit cards that are open, then that’s fed into the workflow queue for an underwriter to review,” True says. Integrated workflow in multiple lending lines is another result of the improving software, True says. For instance, Ensemble helps route flood and title searches to the right person working with home equity loans. FORUM now is looking at ways to expand the reach of TAPS, including “lifestyle lending” that’s now in place at a couple local orthodontist offices where it’s used to do Internet loan applications. Plastic surgeons and veterinarians also present untapped opportunities for such instant decisioning, True says, and the TAPS platform allows CUs to sit down with service providers and create an Internet-based lending program that can be customized to fit the needs of their individual practices. “We all work very much in real-time lending world, and it’s moving more and more toward a point-of-sale environment,” the FORUM CU senior vice president says. “Consumers expect instant decisions and the only way to compete at the POS level is to provide that. “We’re competing on service and quality for indirect loans with banks and other credit unions, and this technology has allowed us to develop front-end business process that can help us win new members and gain additional business.” -

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