CHARLESTON, W.Va.-No matter where CFO Dan McGowan goes, he takes his business intelligence tools with him when he sets out to turn around a CU.

McGowan, currently SVP and CFO at $140-million Pioneer West Virginia CU, said he's "naïve" when it comes to technology. But for someone who's not an IT executive and who doesn't have IT training, he's done well using planning software to help stop the bleeding at two separate CUs in less than four years.

The results speak for themselves: In 2007, the CFO used IBM Cognos TM1 software to turn the tables at $228-million Envision FCU in Tallahassee, Fla. Teller activity reports now take 20 minutes instead of 20 hours. Daily GL posting is complete in four minutes instead of four hours.

Now, at Pioneer West Virginia CU, delinquencies are down to 12 basis points, from 147 points just one year ago, McGowan said, after he used the same software to deliver a real-time status dashboard.

"We used to be the laughing stock of the local market," he said. "We've directed our passion for technology and data to elevate Pioneer West Virginia to one of the best-performing credit unions in the nation."

McGowan has spent the last five years transitioning from one CU to another, experiencing dramatic career changes in a relatively short period of time. Those changes seem only to have benefited the CUs. "I've been that fresh set of eyes to stimulate the grey matter," he suggested.

The grey matter is clarified by real-time dashboard. Total assets, capital ratio and loan-to-shares are prominently displayed. Click "refresh," and the dashboard delivers graphs of current 90-day loan and share trends; a 90-day nominal spread trend graph; and charts containing the detailed status of all loan and share types.

"The idea is to have an analytics environment ready to deliver standardized and ad hoc information to someone who can actually do something with the knowledge," McGowan explained.

Amalgamated Data

The TM1 dashboard amalgamates data from the core processor, mortgage system and credit card vendor-and other databases on the fly, he continued. "You can combine data from several systems to create an information mosaic of sorts that gives decision-makers timely, actionable information. Our CEO, COO and I can see if we're headed in the right direction."

As a result, after two years of losses "well into the six figures, Pioneer WV is on track to make $1.1 million in 2011," said McGowan.

An interface from TM1 to an Excel spreadsheet became the collections department's best friend, he said. The resulting reduction in delinquencies got everyone in collections excited about data. "Their wildest expectations were blown away, which fuels a lot of enthusiasm for doing what you never thought you could do."

The 45-employee CU shopped for planning software from Hyperion and others, but TM1 was easy to use and affordable, McGowan added. "A good accounting and finance person with decent Excel skills can latch onto TM1. And the price is quite workable, even for a small CU."

McGowan said he plans to stay put for a while. "My goal is to become a credit union CEO. I want the opportunity to grow Pioneer WV into the future."

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