Lodestar’s Loan Center helps increase NWCU’s approved-to-book ratio from 30% to 55% as a result of attracting more members and more effectively prioritizing leads.

Nearly every credit union, if not all, would relish doubling their loan bookings. But that lofty objective may seem unattainable for many – especially given an average credit union’s numerous daily tasks, distractions, and inevitable hurdles.

Northwest Community Credit Union ($1 billion; 108,000 members; Eugene, OR) was facing these same daily challenges like many of its peers, trying to track and analyze increasing amounts of data, mitigate looming fraud, and manage multiple mergers – all while experiencing significant growth. Because of its extensive list of priorities, the credit union required more effective technology management solutions that would ultimately improve its lending activities.

As the credit union’s mergers were getting larger, it was becoming more difficult to manage – which resulted in more manual work and more instances of poor service due to human error. NWCU’s reporting and analytics were not keeping up with its tremendous growth.

Often, there were requested reports that were either impossible with the credit union’s current set up or were less reliable. Without data from all systems, there wasn’t a full credit union picture that could be given – and there were many different reporting systems for the different servers/solutions which were difficult to keep track of.

Daniel Ivy, Consumer Loan Center Manager for NWCU, noted a couple of issues within the credit union’s consumer Loan Center that needed to be addressed:

1. Subpar data analytics to review employee and credit union performance
2. Inefficient tracking of opportunities in the pipeline

Having recognized these issues, NWCU needed to improve its lending processes and efficiency to continue its healthy growth curve without antiquated technology bogging down operations. As a result, this task called for improving the ability to bring in Fiserv DNA information from the banking system and Meridian Link information from its lending system.

Enter NWCU’s technology partner data warehousing and business intelligence analytics provider Lodestar. NWCU leveraged Lodestar’s Business Intelligence technology for its Loan Center to improve visibility into the department’s efficiency and to track specific lending process metrics.

Increased lending performance
According to Ivy, Lodestar helped the credit union build a CRM tool called Opportunity Manager. They also built the framework for a statistical dashboard to enhance data review and analysis for the consumer loan center.

Opportunity Manager increased the credit union’s ability to manage its pipeline of existing loan applications, allowing the loan center team to flag loan applications with follow-up reasons and timeframes. Additionally, Opportunity Manager has the ability to communicate with the credit union’s loan origination system (LOS), which will automatically update the CRM tool based on changes in the system.

The technology’s statistical dashboard has also had a lasting impact on Ivy’s ability to properly incentivize the team and optimize their output for maximum possible member benefit and credit union profitability. “Although the exact impact of this specific tool is difficult to measure,” Ivy explains, “we have doubled or tripled some of our sales metrics over the course of the last year and Lodestar’s tools have been instrumental to this achievement.”

For instance, these improvements in NWCU’s approved-to-book ratio have increased the credit union’s loan growth from 3.7% in 2015 to 13.55% in 2016.

Initial steps to a great partnership
Stepping back, the credit union first encountered Lodestar while facing an upcoming merger, as its prior vendor solution was no longer available. Lodestar successfully stepped in, leveraged its expertise, and successfully assisted with NWCU’s merger.

This particular merger seemed to be the instigator. But the myriad of solutions Lodestar offered, as well as a place where the credit union’s data could be centralized for better reporting, offered a lot of what it needed for future growth and gain of efficiencies.

After completing the merger, the scope of the relationship between Lodestar and the credit union grew to include the focus on consumer lending.

Future plans
As for the future, the credit union is considering using Lodestar’s Task Management tool to customize as a collections package given its clear integration with NWCU`s core system data, the ability to report throughout the entire process and after for better delinquency analytics. In addition, the ability to use Lodestar’s forms module to create and image documents presents numerous possibilities that most software designed for use with collections doesn`t offer.

According to Susan Simons, NWCU Director of Enterprise Applications, she has worked with Lodestar since day one through the initial implementation, the merger, and ongoing as part of the User’s Group. Most recently, Simons’ role with Lodestar has been as liaison to the departments as problem solver.

When the credit union identifies a specific need, she looks to Lodestar’s tools to see if anything existing can become the solution. “Our goal is to provide products and services to our members with uncommon care – and working with Lodestar is an extension of that,” Simons says. “They give us a great product, superb service, and treat us with the same uncommon care that we strive to give to both our internal and external customers.”