First formed in 1922 as Paris Building and Loan Association, its original mission was to lend money for building, improving, and paying debts on homesteads and to lend money to members of the Association. Throughout its history, First Federal Community Bank, SSB, has believed that loaning money in the communities it serves is the best use of its resources. It still operates as a traditional lender with 5000 loan accounts and 60% of its portfolio in home mortgage loans, but it's now moving toward commercial lending and real estate as well. With four locations now serving the Paris, Clarksville, and Mount Pleasant areas in Texas, First Federal has a great, long-standing reputation for taking care of its people.
Today, First Federal is proud to offer a complete, up-to-date variety of banking products and services for its current and future clientele. But it hasn't come without its challenges, especially in the lending arena.
Numerous new lending standards and requirements over the last several years, like Qualified Mortgages and corresponding regulations, have introduced extra steps, more paperwork, and more customer options—which all means a longer process to complete a mortgage loan application. In addition, improvements in technology have introduced a variety of new options for initiating and processing loans.
With similar challenges faced by many banks and financial institutions nationwide, First Federal realized the importance of having the right tools to perform their jobs more efficiently and accurately than ever. And with such an emphasis in lending, it was especially important for them to be able to rely on systems and applications to facilitate, support, and even expedite their loan processing and management needs. In simpler terms, they needed to serve their customers in today's diverse banking environment as quickly and completely as possible . . . and they needed a partner with all the applicable tools.
Having been an FPS GOLD core customer for years and very pleased with its systems and services, First Federal decided to expand its family of products to include FPS GOLD's loan origination system, GOLDTrak PC. "Being an FPS GOLD product meant a lot to us," said Tommy Lewis, SVP of Mortgage Loan Services at First Federal. "The full integration with the FPS GOLD core was a big thing that sold us, and we've never looked back on that decision."
Fully integrated, GOLDTrak PC works seamlessly with the FPS GOLD Loan Servicing and Accounting systems for moving loan data smoothly from origination, through funding and boarding data, and into the loan servicing area. With a single click, all loan information is sent to FPS GOLD's core processor and, within minutes, all monetary transactions are complete—with no paper transactions, and less risk of inaccurate data.
GOLDTrak PC reads the same database as CIM GOLD (FPS GOLD's customer account database) so banks save time by not having to re-enter data. The information entered into one field is auto-populated into all like fields throughout all applicable documents and screens. "The fact that we don't have to keep typing in the same data over and over again reduces the chances of data entry errors," said Lewis.
In addition, required documents can be grouped together and attached to the various origination phases ready to print, email, scan, etc. And because it's so flexible, First Federal can customize GOLDTrak PC to match their workflow process and unique lending needs. "That's one thing that [our former provider] did not allow us to do," added Lewis, "there was no customization . . . so the flexibility to customize with GOLDTrak PC was a real big draw to us."
The addition of GOLDTrak PC has provided First Federal with confidence in a solid, integrated system that meets their loan origination, processing, and management needs. And with complete integration, their process has become much more simplified and efficient. "Our overall experience with GOLDTrak PC has been great," said LaWanda Ladell, AVP of Mortgage Loan Servicing. "Switching to GOLDTrak PC was a big improvement. It made it so much easier . . . because now we can board and fund everything through GOLDTrak."
Today, thanks to the integration, customization, and automatic field population, First Federal spends about 20% less time in the overall electronic loan origination process. The amount of errors during a loan application has decreased significantly, and, on average, they save more than 30 minutes per loan by not having to re-enter the same data throughout the process.
In addition to the system, First Federal is delighted with FPS GOLD's service and support. "By and large, your customer service people, in every application, are head and shoulders above any system that we've been on in the past," said Lewis. "Your people are special . . . and you should know that! And your users—from what I've heard from the others—feel equally the same."
The right tools and support are not only helpful but critical today as the banking industry continues to change. In general, banks are concerned about the ability to continue to make loans that qualify under the new guidelines and still make money; but they're hopeful that their vendors will be ready to support them. Fortunately for First Federal, they're now equipped with a system and partner services that facilitate successful compliance and efficiency amid the ongoing changes and regulations.
Download the 1st FFCB GOLDTrak PC case study
Washington Federal, founded in 1917, first opened their doors as Ballard Savings & Loan. They've been publicly traded since 1982, and they've always operated with a long-term perspective—they don't look for short-term gains, but pursue conservative and time-proven banking practices. That's why they maintain capital levels that are more than twice the level considered to be "well capitalized." With 232 branches now serving eight Western states—from Washington to Texas—Washington Federal is one of the top 50 largest banks in the U.S. and has paid a cash dividend to shareholders for more than 100 quarters.
Over the last several years, Washington Federal has focused on growing transaction accounts to lessen sensitivity to rising interest rates. Accordingly, in 2013, they acquired another 51 branches from Bank of America in New Mexico and the Pacific Northwest. As a result, over 80,000 new Internet banking users and over 250,000 new accounts were added—which more than doubled their Internet banking activity. Although the growth was exciting and welcomed, it presented a few challenges that led to some unique troubleshooting and creative solutions.
Having used FPS GOLD as their Internet Banking vendor since 2009, Washington Federal needed to convert all of the new branches to tie the Internet Banking system into their core processing.
In addition, the new clients had been very active in the online world—which was different from what Washington Federal calls their "legacy clients." Bank of America had really pushed their clients to use their online services, and the affects ended up having a big impact on both FPS GOLD and Washington Federal during the conversions. For example, when they converted the Northwest clients, FPS GOLD had to double the number of web servers that support the Washington Federal institution. And Washington Federal had to increase staff for extra training and assistance to get those new clients integrated with the services.
Together, Washington Federal and FPS GOLD have risen to the challenges.
Just prior to the conversions, Washington Federal launched the ability to do external transfers as well as mobile deposit. "That was very timely," said Tim Vo, Project Officer at Washington Federal. "Being able to get those done so quickly with FPS GOLD and get them out to our clients in such a quick manner were really big wins for us . . . and the feedback has been very positive."
As part of the service, FPS GOLD also converted Washington Federal's Internet Banking User Bill Pay Information, including payees, scheduled payments, and payment history. As a result, with the two acquisitions combined, Washington Federal's bill payment activity increased nearly 400%. FPS GOLD helped analyze and update the additional payments before the conversion to optimize the electronic payment rate. "It was a very successful conversion," said Vo. "And with the clients being able to immediately go in and start processing their transactions as necessary, it's been very positive for everyone."
In addition, FPS GOLD provided custom programming to help Washington Federal quickly process thousands of ACH and debit card transactions that continued to be routed to Bank of America after the acquisitions. Washington Federal didn't have a tool to automatically process the trailing activity, so FPS GOLD developed one.
"That was a life saver for us, and it spared us probably days worth of programming efforts," said Vo. "That has financial impact . . . because those are transactions that were waiting to post to clients' accounts. So it was a huge benefit to have that tool from FPS GOLD." Without this programming, Washington Federal was faced with manually posting the transactions one by one.
With the recent acquisitions, Washington Federal has been trying to expand into the business banking and commercial real estate arenas and increase their retail banking sector with liquid accounts. "Hand-in-hand, FPS GOLD has helped us with that," added Vo. "Online Banking is a very visual and very public part of the services we provide. Without a strong online platform, I don't think we would be nearly as successful."
Download the Washington Federal Internet Banking case study.