JACKSONVILLE, Ark.-Arkansas Federal Credit Union is capitalizing on the trending stabilization of mortgage loan rates by offering a new cloud software system that aggregates multiple lending platforms.

"We have been doing mortgage loans for many years but we wanted to expand our operations and grow pretty aggressively," said Frank Lawrence, AVP-mortgage lending for Arkansas FCU. "We have 14 locations, and to better serve our membership and to cover our footprint we needed to have an originator remotely, so having a cloud-based system more than exceeded that criteria."

In September 2011, Lawrence said a discovery process was launched in search of a vendor that could provide the aforementioned desired services.

"We started looking at six or seven companies and narrowed the field down to three by November," he said,, adding that Arkansas Federal serves over 85,000 members from over 500 employer/associational groups with assets in excess of $800 million. "Then we went took a deeper look at these institutions until we finally made a decision in January that would best meet our needs and the needs of our members."

In mid-July, Arkansas Federal launched Prime Alliance Solutions' prime +. Dan Green, EVP-Credit Union Solutions for the Edina, Minn.-based Prime Alliance, explained this is the first cloud-based mortgage technology enabling credit unions to consolidate multiple lending platforms to one system.

"We have worked in the industry since 2001 and have deep ties with credit unions and have a lot of ties to partners in the mortgage industry," Green said. "We knew Arkansas Federal, and one of our partners said they were looking for a new system, which is how our relationship started."

 

Streamlined Time Savings

Because CU members and consumers are becoming increasingly technology savvy and are prone to seek ease-of-use financial transactions, including loan applications. With prime +, all approvals and disclosures occur when the application is submitted, which saves days of waiting. The paperless process also saves money and resources, noted Green, adding that "everyone involved stays informed in real-time."

Depending on a respective credit union's requirements, it can take 90 to 120 days for the system to go live. Green explained that a disciplined, analytical approach is required and helps to determine "where the credit union is today with their mortgage program and where they want to take it."

Prime Alliance's process includes extensive training and testing before the system is fully operational, he added.

"We are currently training our entire staff, and Prime Alliance has been a part of that process and are also helping to train three or four of our key staff members who will be able provide more detailed training in-house moving forward," said Lawrence.

 

Intuitive, But Complex

While he noted that the software is "intuitive" for employees, from a web administrator standpoint, it's considered "complex." Lawrence, however, doesn't feel the latter will be an issue. "Prime Alliance is literally always just a phone call a way to handle any question or issues," he said.

While Lawrence couldn't offer exact numbers, he noted that the expected return on investment (ROI) will be realized in short order. "Last year our loan volume was roughly $70 million. As of this July we have already hit that number," he continued. "When this software is operational, and with all things being equal, we believe we can double this capacity [by the end of the year]."

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