CUSOMAG: Today we’re going to be speaking with Pete Winninger—Vice President of Professional Services on the Lender*VP team at CU*Answers—to learn more about what he and his team are all about. Would you like to tell us a little bit about what your team does at CU*Answers, Pete?
PETE: The main role of Lender*VP is supporting all things lending with the CU*BASE tool set and software—whether that’s dreaming up new products, troubleshooting with clients on a daily basis for existing products, educating, consulting, or training new clients.
On the client end, we have both internal and external clients. Internally, we work with programmers to create new products and find new ways for CU*BASE to function, along with working with client service representatives to help increase their knowledge base for our clients that call in for help. Externally, we have nearly 300 clients we offer support to. Every client has a question or issue at some point in time, and the topics can differ greatly, so I’ve ensured my team has diverse knowledge and is split up into areas of expertise.
Lender*VP also supports conversions. If a credit converts to CU*BASE, we take all of their phone calls for a two-week period which can end up being thousands of calls. We take over here so credit union staff members who just converted to CU*BASE don’t have to answer the phone hundreds of times in a day and can focus on what’s in front of them.
CUSOMAG: You mentioned various teams in your department, can you give us insight on what these individual teams do?
PETE: Sure! Our Lender*VP team deals with everything from indirect lending, direct lending, real estate lending, and any forms associated with loans or programming CU*BASE. Our team is broken up into smaller “subsets” which include collections, real estate, and forms.
In collections, for example, our team of twenty-five run collections for nearly credit unions in twelve different states, doing day-to-day collections work calling credit union members directly. So, credit unions can outsource their actual collection activities to my team.
We also have a forms team. If a credit union buys forms from a forms vendor, we will program those forms directly into CU*BASE for them. The idea behind that is to get all those forms added to CU*BASE and to keep the team from having to rekey any information.
CUSOMAG: What can you tell us about your custom forms solutions?
PETE: Credit unions can buy their needed form(s) from a vendor and ask us to integrate it. However, if the form doesn’t exist or it’s a form they’ve created themselves, they might worry about getting that integrated. Thankfully, we can still program those in CU*BASE. So, for custom forms, credit unions can send us a document, type whatever they want into it, and we’ll turn it into a form for them.
CUSOMAG: You talked about collections and mentioned that you’re calling members, can you expand upon that?
PETE: We take a different approach to collections here. It’s not what I would call the standard Tony Soprano type of collections. We’re not out there threatening to break legs and repo cars or anything like that. We try to work with the member and say, “Hey, when we wrote this loan for you, things looked really good. We said yes to you, but something in your life has changed between now and then to put you in this situation. What’s changed, and how can we help?”
Helping the members helps the credit union prevent loss of money and their members. We want to keep the member in that car and see how we can work with them through payment arrangements, restructuring, and sometimes even just moving the due date.
CUSOMAG: Your team and Keegan Daniel’s team offer services called tune-ups. Can you explain to us what these entail?
PETE: Let’s say you bought a brand-new sports car and you’ve never changed the oil, you’ve never taken it to a good mechanic, and you just drove the heck out of it. Eventually, it’s going to turn into a scrap pile. Core platforms are the same. Even if it’s everything you want at first, if you never work with it, you never update anything, and you never stay up-to-date on what’s going on, eventually you’re going to say, “this just doesn’t work the way it did when I first got it!”
To counteract that, we’ve developed tune-up opportunities: they’re a chance for me to take a look under the hood and see what’s going on. There are several different versions of these tune-ups. They are around an hour and are free of charge. Essentially, I go in with a ten-point checklist and say “hey here’s a couple of things I would consider low-hanging fruit, take a look at those,” until we go on site. Then, we’ll come your credit union for a couple days, whether it’s just me, or with another individual such as Keegan Daniel, and dig deeper into the system.
Tune-ups are personalized for each credit union—we look at their configurations now and we look at their configurations at time of conversion.Often the credit union staff that is there now was not part of the conversion; it could have been years or even decades since then. However, we’re able to look back and say, “Okay, these are the choices that were made at the time. Now that you’ve had some time with the system, do these choices still make sense based on your business and where you’re going?” If not, we can adjust those things. Often, credit unions don’t even realize that their configuration is full of choices that can be made. People just assume CU*BASE can’t do specific things, has limitations, or just doesn’t work a certain way, when in reality, most things are because someone made a choice at some point for it to work that way.
CUSOMAG: So, what is available in CU*BASE to help me really know and understand the member?
PETE: When it comes to credit reports, there are so many tools, an incredible amount of data, and really cool dashboards. Tool #319 is a credit score history dashboard used to see how members’ credit scores ebb and flow, so you can see a member’s entire portfolio from there and really narrow it down to date ranges, credit score ranges, full pulls, soft pulls, and a lot of other information.
Loan Risk Score Analysis is another great tool that shows all of your loan portfolio and how it’s performing by credit score. Then, it starts to get into delinquency and breaks the delinquency down by credit score as well, so that helps analyze if your loans are priced right. If you start to see a disproportionate amount of delinquency in a certain credit score band, then you should maybe ask whether loans are priced right and if you’re making enough money in this loan to make up for the fact that you have to pay a collector to work these loans and call these people every month potentially.
From the credit report perspective, another cool tool that is fed off of credit reports is Where Members Borrow. It’s a powerful dashboard that takes all of the information available from credit reports and puts it in a dashboard that allows you to see all the other places your members have loans. From a cross sales perspective, field perspective, or any other perspective you want to look at, all that information is available. If there is a marketer or a lender with idle time, I can fill their time for weeks with these tools.
CUSOMAG: If I’m new to the credit union and I just don’t know where to start, how might I find out about all these things that you offer?
PETE: Client News is a great first place to start. My team is also making calls on a regular basis, trying to target and market those calls to the right people, and keeping that list updated in CU*BASE. In addition, staying in the loop for releases and release training is beneficial to credit unions. We do about two or three major releases each year as our software is always changing, so attending the release training sessions or looking at the release documents helps clients keep up with us.
Our section on the CU*Answers website is kept up to date each time we have new press releases or new products and services. We also have our current selection of services that we provide on our online store which details out the service descriptions, timelines, expected costs, and more.
CUSOMAG: Finally, our two most important questions of the day. First, what is your favorite word?
PETE: I actually have two favorite words. The first is “potentially.” When I am answering questions or statements, I like to use the word potentially because I like to be very specific when I speak, and it’s a nicer way of saying “depends” in my mind. I will answer my wife when she asks me if I want to go out to dinner with these people and I’ll say “potentially.” My other favorite word is “Tegucigalpa” which is the capital of Honduras. It’s difficult to work into conversations. I heard that word in geography when I was in elementary school and I’ve always liked it.
CUSOMAG: So, what’s your least favorite word?
PETE: It’s less of a word and more of an answer I get, and the answer being, “Well we’ve always done it that way.” I hear it often and feel obligated to mention that it may be a good opportunity to find a different way to do something. Sometimes it’s well received, sometimes it’s not, but when I hear “we’ve always done it that way” it’s like nails on a chalkboard for me.
CUSOMAG: Thank you so much for joining us today, Pete. It was great to hear more about the Lender*VP team and gain a better understanding of what you do for your clients!