A Chicago consulting firm, West Monroe Partners, has emerged as a key advisor on two of the credit union industry’s biggest mega-mergers, First Tech/Addison Avenue and now California’s proposed Kinecta/NuVision consolidation.
Update, March 1, 2012: Kinecta, NuVision Cancel Merger Plans
Roger Ballard, president/CEO of Kinecta FCU of Manhattan Beach, Calif. confirmed Tuesday it has hired West Monroe, with experience in handling merger integration in a number of industries ranging from healthcare and telecommunications to utilities and co-ops, to consult on its merger with NuVision FCU of Huntington Beach, Calif. to form a $4.7 billion entity.
West Monroe has been serving the last year as consultant for the $4.9 billion First Tech FCU, which merged with Addison Avenue FCU of Palo Alto, Calif. in January under the First Tech brand.
“We are excited about our assignment,” said Tom Bolger, co-head of the firm’s banking practice division in Seattle which advises bank and CU clients on such areas as IT, general ledger and product integration.
Bolger, a former consultant with Arthur Andersen and executive with the since-merged Washington Mutual Savings Bank of Seattle, said he was “surprised” but not dismayed to read about access-related member complaints in Portland, Ore., resulting from First Tech’s long-planned system conversion over the Memorial Day weekend.
“Actually, I was impressed with how quickly and professionally some of the issues were resolved by their staff since we were all operating on a 24-hour basis,” Bolger said.
From the West Monroe “vantage point, we think the integration went very well,” he said.
So did the credit union’s core processing provider. Open Solutions Inc.’s core processing platform was in use by both Addison Avenue and First Tech prior to the integration and now is hosted in Palo Alto.
“We still considered it a conversion since it was two separate systems. In our view, it was a very successful merger and data conversion between two very large credit unions. It went very well, and in fact was ahead of schedule in terms of what they accomplished in a short time,” said David Mitchell, chief marketing officer at Open Solutions in Glastonbury, Conn.
He said the credit union had recorded about 650 comments on Facebook after converting 1.5 million accounts containing 95 million transactions from 330,000 members. The combined credit union has 38 branches in eight states and Puerto Rico.
“Of course, the credit union wanted 100% satisfaction. I give them credit for their amazing transparency in setting up a Facebook site and launching this social media way of communicating with their members so quickly and collectively,” Mitchell said.
Deborah Colby, vice president of marketing/business development for First Tech, added, “Any integration of this magnitude is bound to run into problems and we were not 100% perfect.”