Altra Federal Credit Union was formed in 1931 with 33 members. Today, Altra serves members in all 50 states and around the globe. They have come a long way, with a current asset size of $970 million, and anticipating growth to over $1 billion in the first quarter of 2014. The credit union is full-service, offering business, consumer, and residential mortgage products. The business lending unit is operated in four states with markets in Wisconsin, Texas, Tennessee, and Minnesota. All business loans are underwritten and processed through the central office in Wisconsin. The credit union also has a strong SBA portfolio of $20 million.
Integration and workflow management key for Credit Union
Altra Federal Credit Union was looking for a more integrated solution to manage their growing business loan portfolio. Internally, a list was made of functionality that they were looking for, including a download of members and loan balances, integration between the financial analysis and a presentation to loan committee, customization of the presentation format, and an interface to a loan origination platform.
Altra contacted other credit unions and CUSOs with which they had relationships and got a list of software companies to consider. Demos were requested, and the attendees of the demo varied depending on the functionality being presented. The credit union considered the benefits and features of each.
Ultimately, Suntell was chosen after a more detailed demo to a selection committee. The committee weighted the features and graded/weighed them. Two of the ultimate deciding factors included the workflow management of Suntell’s Square 1 Credit Suite® and ease of implementation. Altra Federal Credit Union became a Suntell customer in September 2012..
There is more consistency in the output of each presentation, and our lenders enjoy the depth of analysis. It has brought compliance to the processes in our department.
Mike Nickel, Vice President of Business Lending
The Implementation Process
Altra set out a project plan and divided up the work for implementation. Involved in both the decision process and implementation were Mike Nickel, Vice President of Business Lending, Joe Moua, Credit Manager of Business Lending, Sue Adickes, Project Manager, and Laura Gillies, Business Lending Operations Manager. They thought the configuration was very simple and that the interface development between their core system and the Suntell products was streamlined. The credit union has a user base that is very experienced in commercial lending, so they had a clear vision of how they wanted the software to work for them.
About nine months after initial implementation of the Loan Management System (LMS), the credit union implemented Suntell Document Imaging. Previously, scanned documents were located in a shared directory on their server. Now they are indexed in the database.
The credit union discusses Suntell internally every 90-180 days. Every time it is discussed, they still find that it works well for them and meets their needs.
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When asked about how Suntell has improved the credit union’s loan portfolio management, Moua says that reporting has become the “click of a button” for detailed reports such as past due. Previously, they were using Access to extract data to Excel to format for various reports, and now these reports can be generated from the LMS.
Nickel commented that the quality of their loan analysis and overall integration of spreads into their presentations to loan committee has created a degree of efficiency within their department. “There is more consistency in the output of each presentation, and our lenders enjoy the depth of analysis,” Nickel says, “It has brought compliance to the processes in our department.” Nickel and Moua note that they have dedicated the time in building a foundation within the database and every month they see improvements. As loans are coming due for renewal, now being into their second year of usage, they are seeing the power of having the previous presentations and analysis available.
Moua and Nickel find the software to be intuitive and user-friendly. Internally, they stay up-to-date on new features and releases, and have hosted their own internal training to ensure that all employees understand the functionality and that they are all on the same page.
Ongoing Relationship with Suntell
Moua says that he has enjoyed working with Suntell’s Customer Support and has found the support team to be responsive to tickets that he has submitted. Nickel noted that he has worked with many other vendors, and Suntell’s customer support contributes to the reason that they continue to be happy, saying “I can’t think of another organization I’ve ever worked with that has been as responsive as Suntell.” Moua added “You can’t put a price on that.” During their internal meetings, they recognize the benefits of using the software and view Suntell as a strategic partner with their organization.