After 24 successful years at the helm, Charlie Fulks will be stepping down as president and CEO of CUProdigy (www.cuprodigy.com) later this year.
Fulks, who founded what then was known as Credit Union Data Processing, Inc., in May 1991, will remain with the company through September as it transitions to a new leader. Las Vegas-based credit union consultancy Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates is conducting the search for CUProdigy’s next CEO.
CUProdigy currently serves 15 credit unions, representing $1.85 billion in total assets and 203,000 credit union members.
According to Fulks, two-and-a-half decades later it was time for a change – for both him and the company.
“I do not have anything lined up, but I felt it was time to move on and find something else,” he said. “It is a leap of faith for me. I feel the company needs fresh leadership to take it to the next level. It is a good move for the company. The company has changed over the past 24 years, and I feel a fresh outlook will be beneficial to CUProdigy’s continued success.”
Robert Taylor, chairman of the board for CUProdigy and president and CEO of Idaho State University Credit Union, Pocatello, Idaho, thanked Fulks for his years of service.
“Charlie Fulks has been dedicated to CUProdigy and the credit unions it serves for nearly two-and-a-half decades,” said Taylor. “I speak for every member of the board of directors in offering our gratitude for his leadership, vision and energy. He has put CUProdigy on a great path, and I am certain he will be a tremendous success at whatever he does next.”
A Career Of Helping Credit Unions Succeed
Fulks graduated Brigham Young University with a BA in economics in 1985. His first job was as vice president and controller at Bonneville First Credit Union in 1986.
“I asked myself, ‘What do I do with an econ degree?’ Fulks recalled. “I did not know a lot about credit unions other than having been a credit union member once upon a time.”
Because computer programming had long been a hobby of his, when an opening came up at a company known as Information Now, Fulks jumped at the chance. There, he worked on software that supported the company’s 33 credit union clients.
A year and a half later, Information Now went bankrupt. A users group of the company’s software turned into what became known as Credit Union Data Processing. Said Fulks, “Having worked in a credit union, I realized if the users group could form and own the company, it could be in a better position than me trying to form a company. We knew a CUSO would be a strong business model. It was more difficult to form a CUSO back then compared to now. We had to explain the power of owning the company ourselves.”
Building From The Ground Up
The early years of Credit Union Data Processing were “very interesting,” Fulks recalled. At first it was just him working from home, until eventually he hired a second person. As the company continued to grow, he and the management team decided to take a long vision as to what the company wanted to do.
“The idea was to educate credit unions on using the software,” he said. “When the bank that owned the software out of the bankruptcy refused to sell, we wrote our own software.” In 1996, it had the first version of its own software that it could sell. The company converted all of its credit unions to the new version. “We did a good job of serving credit unions. We saved them a lot of money,” Fulks said.
The one problem: CU Data Processing still was using character-based software. In 2007, Fulks said it was clear it no longer could sell a character-based system; it needed to be graphics-based. He said that was the “biggest turning point” for the company. “We asked our owners what they wanted us to be. They invested in writing a new software package from the ground up.”
That software became known as CUProdigy, and in 2014 the company rebranded as CUProdigy. “We feel it is the best software out there in the industry,” said Fulks. “It is the best because it was written from the ground up, rather than fixing old software. We had no restrictions. It took a lot of time, but once the base was in place we were able to build on it and become a true open system.”
Fulks said CUProdigy software is written in Java, but it also uses Google Web Toolkit and other elements that are not often found in the credit union industry. “It works, it is fast, it has lots of abilities. It is very responsive and easy to use. We have an interface engine that allows our software to interface with debit and credit card systems, mobile banking, even online loan origination systems – all the third parties credit unions need to be able to talk to.”
Fulks said his proudest career achievement is pulling credit unions together over the years and getting them to work on a collaborative level to create a very robust system. “It enables them to do their job and be stronger together. There are a lot of technology companies that do patches, but we created a core system.”
Next for Fulks will be spending time with family. “I have a special needs son, a daughter getting married this year and a couple of grandchildren,” he said.
CUProdigy is a credit union core software CUSO, formed in 1991. The group’s eponymous core software product, CUProdigy, is made up of the very latest in browser‐based technology. With its modern architecture and full feature list, CUProdigy is changing the way credit unions operate while redefining the core software industry. For more information, please visit: www.cuprodigy.com