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Core Conversions: We’ve Seen a Few!

Core conversion is inevitable with institutional growth. State National has witnessed hundreds of our credit union, bank, and finance company partners’ core conversions.

Based on careful pattern observations, we share insights on ensuring a seamless transition so you can “measure twice and convert once.”

Undertaking a core conversion is no small task and it’s a decision no financial institution takes lightly. When researching how to do a successful conversion, it quickly becomes clear that it is a complicated and time-consuming process that can sometimes lead to a whole host of problems for both users and customers.

However, as institutions grow and adopt newer, more advanced technology, the need for a core conversion can become unavoidable. Overall, that’s great news, because it means you’re growing! But because it is such a significant, lengthy, and costly endeavor, it’s important to take it on with eyes wide open.

As the largest writer of portfolio protection in the industry and among the longest in business with nearly 50 years of experience, State National has been witness to hundreds of our partners’ core conversions. Following are some of our insights and observations for those who may also be thinking about beginning this significant transition.

Learn From Others’ Experiences and Expertise

While there is no simple solution to make this process problem-free, there are proven best practices that can help. By listening to and implementing expert advice from core processor providers as well as peers that have gone through the conversion process, you can help set the stage for a smoother and more seamless transition as you undertake this major system overhaul.

  1. Establish a Dedicated Team

    Core conversions are often perceived solely as an IT project. However, the most successful conversions involve senior leadership from the beginning to ensure the conversion aligns with user needs in each department as well as customer needs, wants, and expectations. Consider hiring or assigning a dedicated project manager to create a detailed and thorough project plan — and hold all stakeholders accountable to that plan — before the process even kicks off. When it comes to core conversion, the devil is in the details. Someone who is fully dedicated and invested can closely oversee project mapping, testing, and training.

  2. Evaluate the Vendors in the Field

    Many core processor vendors are available, and the right partner depends on what is most important for your specific business needs and your customers. Important items to consider are Marketing Customer Information File (MCIF) analysis functionality, native application integration, availability of third-party integration, data mining capability, mortgage servicing, and, of course, implementation costs and ongoing maintenance fees.

  3. Think Ahead

    Take time to understand the details of each proposal to fully comprehend the long-term impacts and benefits to your organization.

  4. Select the Right Business Partner

    Choose a vendor and core platform that best aligns and supports your organizational vision and direction.

  5. Have Dedicated Teams That lead and Drive the Conversion Process

    Details, details, details! A core conversion touches every part of your business, so don’t stay high level. Setting up function-focused teams for each department (such as a customer-facing team and a back office team) will allow for function-based assessment and keep the details in sight. Additionally, these teams allow every area of your business to evaluate processes and transactions that will need to change, make decisions about how to set up those changes, and troubleshoot challenges and problems in real time before the conversion actually takes place.

  6. Designate a Dedicated Training Leader

    This person should train all departments on the new core platform and ensure there is ample time for practice and experimentation before the go-live date — which is especially important for customer-facing functions. Make sure your training leader builds a variety of test cases to ensure a review of every possible scenario.

  7. Communicate

    Thorough communication, both internally and with your customers, should be a huge part of the plan. Everyone should be aware of what is happening well in advance of the go-live date. Also, consider having a plan for ample, even excess, staffing in your call center during the mock conversions, during conversion weekend, and after going live.

  8. Communicate Some More

     

    Constant communication with technology partners and vendors is also a key component to ensuring a successful rollout. As one of the partners, we would encourage you to communicate with your partners and vendors before you start the conversion process to ensure all stakeholders are involved and invested in the testing plan/schedule.

    Involve your technology partners in your core conversion

  9. Maintain Agility and Flexibility

    Recognize that there will be setbacks in any process, so plan for more time and resources than you think you’ll need to allow for adjustments along the way. It’s also important to recognize wins and achievements as milestones are reached, so you can continue to engage and motivate staff through the challenges.

  10. Celebrate!

    The whole reason you implemented a core conversion is to take advantage of the new features, benefits, and efficiencies that will be available with your new core platform! Keep staff engaged and motivated by celebrating milestones along the way as well as post-conversion, and make it a point to recognize the teammates who worked so diligently to make the conversion happen.


Measure Twice, Convert Once

Having a clear plan of action from the start provides peace of mind that your financial institution will be able to handle the challenges coming your way during the conversion process. More importantly, it will help ensure the successful implementation of a new core processing system that will provide long-term efficiencies for your team and organization as well as long-term value for your customers.

 

We know the strain and stress the conversion process can place on a financial institution’s business resources, which is why we want to help make things as simple and straightforward as possible. We offer direct integration with the Temenos and Symitar core processor platforms, and have the ability to automate and customize file transfer with the vast majority of core processing platforms across the industry. We also make sure our programs are smooth and seamless so that whatever your challenges and hurdles may be, portfolio protection will never be one of them.

Additional Resources:

Charlie Miller
Charlie Miller
Charlie Miller is State National’s Vice President of Client Services and Operations, overseeing the relationship- and service-focused client-facing team as well as our fundamental loan and insurance tracking operations, including Document Processing and our in-house Contact Center. Charlie’s core priority is delivering an exceptional client experience by building lasting partner relationships that exceed expectations while delivering efficient, cutting-edge processes focused on improving the experience of both our clients and their borrowers.

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How State National’s Client Advisory Council Creates a Virtuous Circle At State National, client experience is the foundation of everything we do. We don’t see our client relationships as static; each one is dynamic and evolving as a living, breathing entity. And it’s vital that we prioritize and nurture our client partnerships as we do with the other foundational pillars of our company. One the most effective ways we do this is to collaborate with our clients. We talk to our clients, we ask them what they want, and we include them when crafting our business strategies. We have always considered actively getting feedback from our clients as an integral and critical part of our strategic planning. It’s why we conduct our Annual Survey of Service Quality as well as other surveys measuring other aspects of our service delivery. Our #1 goal is to help our business partners succeed, so finding out what they want and need, and how we can better provide it to them, is always top of mind. Taking the Quest for Feedback to the Next Level In 2018, we went a step further and created the State National Client Advisory Council (CAC) to convene a group of some of our top clients to discuss issues that are critically important to them and to us. It’s a forum to share information, gain consensus on key topics, and collaborate with peers and partners to creatively pursue problem-solving strategies and growth opportunities for their institutions As I said in my last CAC blog, our intention in establishing the State National CAC was, and still is, to listen carefully to the voices and concerns of our clients, foster an atmosphere where collaborative insights can emerge, and allow our strategy and product development to be guided by those who will actually be using it every day. Specifically Designed to Add Value — For All Yes, the CAC is of great benefit to State National, because it gives us opportunities to deepen relationships with some of our closest partners, and align our organization more precisely with our clients’ perspectives. We get to hear both what’s working well as well as challenges they’re facing, not only in our area of expertise, but in all areas of their institution. As we’ve been known to say a time or two, we’re successful when our clients are successful — so anything we can contribute to help them grow and succeed ultimately contributes to our own success as a company. But it’s definitely not all about us! Our council was created with a true desire to provide members with tangible, real-world benefits that not only make it more than worth their time but also add tremendous value they don’t get from any other partner. But don’t take it from us — here’s what some of our current CAC members have to say: “By having open conversations about what’s going on in the marketplace with other credit unions who are going through the same things, I’m able to learn how others are attacking certain problems and I’ve absolutely taken some things back to my credit union and implemented them.” ~ Mike Shockley, VP of Lending, True Sky Credit Union, Oklahoma City, OK “It’s great to talk about emerging technologies or other ideas we can bring back to our specific credit unions and share with our leadership team — ideas we might otherwise not have been exposed to. The volume of information at a very high level that someone can obtain by joining the CAC is wonderful." ~ John Cotner, VP of Commercial & Mortgage Lending, Horizon Credit Union, Boise, ID “When it comes to topics like innovation and technology and AI, I think I've learned more from the CAC than I have by going to conferences and things like that, because you can really have more intimate conversations with your peers at the council, and State National does a great job of bringing in great presenters that really position the topics well, so it's easily understood as we're reviewing certain new innovations.” ~ James Bolin, SVP & CMEO, Silver State Schools Credit Union, Las Vegas, NV “One of the benefits of being on the CAC is not only meeting some of the participants from different parts of the country and having discussions, but I have also been able to take away two specific strategic business initiatives that directly impact the credit union that came about through my participation on the CAC, including one that is a multi-year strategic initiative.” ~ Steve McIntire, SVP, Enterprise Risk & General Counsel, SELCO Community Credit Union, Eugene, OR State National is a great partner. I'm glad they asked me to join the CAC because it gives me an opportunity to keep that partnership active and very vibrant. And I enjoy the fact that I get to see what State National is doing and what’s on their horizon and how it’s going to benefit not only my credit union, but the credit union industry. So it’s been really awesome.” ~ Karen Hoeppner, Chief Lending Officer, My Credit Union, Minneapolis, MN A Real-World Example of CAC Value The council’s 3rd quarter 2021 meeting provides an illustration of the tangible benefits of this ongoing collaborative sharing of ideas and insights. The council met in August in Irvine, California, headquarters of Filene Research Institute. Filene is an integral thought leadership partner for State National, and that partnership further extends directly to our CAC members. The business portion of the event was held at Filene’s innovative West Coast outpost. Dr. Bill Maurer, professor at UC Irvine, Director at the Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion, and research fellow at Filene’s Center of Excellence in Emerging Technology, conducted a working session called “The Pandemic as Practice for a Less-Predictable Future.” Group discussion led to shared best practices on how credit unions can automate communication regarding the notice cycle, which improves their member perception of CPI. Participants also explored other risk mitigation strategies credit union peers are using and how they are approaching risk mitigation overall in light of the uncertainty and turbulence caused by the pandemic and other economic shifts. Relevant, Actionable Insights Following Dr. Maurer’s presentation and discussion, CAC members and SNC directors formed working groups to discuss business challenges related to highly relevant credit union hot topics, including data governance, AI implementation, and digital automation, including mobile. After a lively conversation and sharing of experiences, each working group was tasked with conducting further collaborative research into their group’s subject area. With their curiosity sparked, CAC members made plans to dive in together to produce real-world insights they can share with other decision-makers in their credit union. The groups will also present their findings at the Q4 CAC meeting in November. Personal Connections When the day’s work was over, members joined State National representatives for an enjoyable and relaxing evening outing. After the mental stimulation provided by the day’s deep dive into important credit union topics, it was nice to move to a casual setting on the water and interact on a more personal level, while enjoying excellent conversation and lots of laughter. Then, the next day, it was time to head back to their credit union homes, bringing knowledge, insights, advice, and inspiration with them as they work on their findings and look for openings within their institutions to leverage what they’ve learned. Discover More Are you a curious credit union professional, always looking to grow and give back to your organization? Do you enjoy bouncing ideas off like-minded people in your industry and get a little thrill when you see these synergies expand what’s possible for you and for them? Are you a believer in true connection with those you work with and mutually beneficial partnerships with your service providers? Contact Heather Clyde, State National’s Client Advisory Council Program Manager, at HClyde@StateNational.com to explore the possibility of council membership. “The CAC has exceeded my expectations. On a fun note, the group is great. My colleagues on the CAC and the staff at State National are all very enjoyable and very professional. State National does a wonderful job of putting the events together. They’re well thought out, well organized. I think it’s a great two-way relationship, the CAC. I think we’re benefiting State National, and they are certainly benefiting us.” ~ John Cotner, Horizon CU   “State National has always considered our clients as more than just clients — we truly do see each and every one of these connections as an authentic partnership. Our goal for client relationships is always more than transactional; we’re always going for a win-win situation and strive to evolve all of these partnerships to serve the long-term strategic business goals for both parties. Our CAC is growing to be a vital component of State National’s overall corporate strategy, and it’s very gratifying to see that it is already helping to serve the long-term strategic interests of our CAC members and their credit unions.” ~ Heather Clyde, Client Advisory Council Program Manager