Talking with Jason Jones, you feel like you immediately know the guy. He comes across as very authentic, friendly, funny and credit union-y. You don’t get that from a lot of credit union core processing vendors – particularly owners.
He doesn’t have his title in his email signature and technically doesn’t have one at all. “I’m not a big title guy. Titles create separation. We’re all for one and one for all to save the industry and do it as a team,” he said when I asked for his title to include in this blog. Jones is the owner of CU-centric, a 15-year old core processor with dozens of clients.
As the name says, the company is CU-centric, and its largest client, a $250 million credit union, just signed last year. When it signed, the credit union asked for a savings product, which the company obliged and then CU-Centric rolled it out to the rest of its clients. It’s nimble that way.
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The job of a tech provider is to make credit union lives easier, Jones explained. “We offer core and offer everything with it, so employees are freed up for ‘human touch.’ We try to ensure we give credit unions everything they need,” he said. Cu-centric doesn’t charge for modules, he noted, pointing out that the monthly bill is one line: support.
Jones added, “We’ve automated a lot more than others. We see this during conversions – they aren’t as automated as they say they are.” CU-centric is on 24/7, so no more making sure the CEO is there at month close; one even recently tested him on that sales pitch. CU-centric passed.
Seemingly humble yet proud, Jones said CU-centric has never lost a credit union to competition, only mergers. CU-centric hasn’t actively marketed in nine years; it has no sales team. All of its business comes through referrals and word of mouth.
Still, this core processor clearly states that credit unions are not about technology. “The difference between credit unions and the banking world is that some credit unions have lost their way. It’s not about technology – it’s about services and that personal touch.”
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Jones noted a CU-centric client that offers no home banking or even share drafts, but they offer very low loan rates and very high CD rates. Unless you’re $1 billion plus you can’t keep up with the banks, he said, advising credit unions to simply find what you’re good at and do that.
“I’ve seen credit union after credit union prove you can do what the banks cannot.”
Serving dozens of smaller credit unions, the most common questions CU-centric receives aren’t tech related at all. They’re about accounting and all the new rules and CECL. The company offers the help and referrals it can. “It seems to me examiners are less willing to help rather than write them up and get them in trouble,” Jones said. “They just want to merge credit unions.”
But taking the credit union approach and making lives easier for credit union executive to heart, CU-centric will be rolling out a new dashboard, demonstrated at its user’s conference in October last year and currently in beta, in Q2. I will give credit unions an at-a-glance, snapshot of the entire credit union, simplifying morning double checking and saving them a lot of time on the back-office work.