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A Conversation with Richard Leone, CEO


What is your background and what brought you to COCC?
I began my career in 1984 in public accounting, and joined Touche Ross & Co. in 1986 as a senior accountant. COCC recruited me as Chief Financial Officer in 1991, which exposed me to this great organization, its clients, and its potential. In 2001, following an extensive search, I was named President and CEO. In total, Iíve been with COCC for 18 years, which is quite typical of our employees.

What kind of company was COCC when you became President in 2001?
COCC was a mature company with an experienced and dedicated Board of Directors, talented management, great clients, terrific employees, and a deep heritage of customer service. My predecessor, Mark Pumiglia, created a culture of customer service excellence which still thrives today. Few people realize that our company has one of the longest records of service in the financial data processing business. We processed transactions for our first clients in 1967, before most of our competitors existed! When I became President in 2001, COCC had just completed a terrific Y2K performance that won kudos throughout the industry. More significantly, we started converting clients to our next generation client/server processing platform. This enormous effort brought our entire company together in a very meaningful way. Today, we are a company of 360 people who all have the same commitment, passion, and client focus. I feel extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity to lead COCC forward.

What accomplishments give you the greatest satisfaction today?
More than the next generation technology we have installed and the growth we have experienced, I am most proud of our service report card grades over the past six years. During that time, our clients have given us the highest grades in our 42 year history ó well into the "excellent" range. That tells me a lot about the work we do and the promises we keep every day. Right behind our report cards is completing the .Net upgrade. While our competition continues to apply band-aids to their 20 and 30 year old legacy technologies, we are upgrading our clients to the second generation of the latest technology.


What have you done over the past eight years to help COCC achieve this level of success?

I have helped COCC succeed by capitalizing on our existing strengths. We took advantage of our long standing relationship with Open Solutions, Inc. to deliver the leading core technology in the industry. No other data processor has a more advanced core system, and no one is doing more with Open Solutions, Inc. to keep that system ahead of the competition. We also added experienced staff in key areas of the company to deliver the superior service that our clients expect and deserve. These actions have made us industry leaders in several areas ó check image processing, risk management, business intelligence and business process optimization. When potential clients look closely at COCC, they are impressed with every aspect of our organization.

What makes COCC special in todayís market for financial data processing services?
COCC offers the best technology, the strongest suite of services, and the most dedicated service staff ó all supported by a cooperative ownership structure that maintains the highest level of quality in the industry. Itís an unbeatable combination. Because we use the latest open architecture processing environment, an institutionís conversion to COCC is the last conversion they will ever need to make. As a client-owned cooperative, COCC encourages dialogue and responds to service suggestions more quickly than many clients expect. Because of the exceptionally low turnover among our staff, we have exceptionally strong experience throughout the company, as well as a culture of being the best! Thatís why COCC is special in todayís market for financial data processing services.

What are your plans going forward? Certainly revenue growth is in COCCís future, but itís controlled growth at an annual rate of 5-10 percent. As a service business, we cannot afford to grow so quickly that we lose the qualities that make us successful. Thatís why client feedback and frequent contact with our clients is so important. Our efforts with Open Solutions, Inc. to deliver the industryís only .Net technology solution are another important part of our future. This new technology gives our clients new functionality and efficiencies, while giving COCC an enormous advantage in the industry. .Net really is a tremendous leap forward for COCC and our clients. New security products under the Sentry Services umbrella and further progress in imaging and payments technology round out our product efforts. Behind the scenes, we are constantly investing in our technology infrastructure. and our people. More than products and technology, we find that people create our success. We are generating leadership and enthusiasm through our companyís "Core Values" which encourage security, passion, teamwork, and results. I am convinced that this initiative is the cornerstone of our future success.