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  • Writer's pictureJohn San Filippo

Corelation 2024: The Rob Landis Interview

By John San Filippo


Corelation’s 13th annual client conference was held May 28-30, 2024, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. Nearly 1,000 people attended the event in person, while many more attended virtually. During his opening remarks, Founder and Board Chair John Landis announced that the company had signed 32 new credit union clients since the previous conference, bringing the company total to 233 credit unions ranging in assets from $4 million to $19 billion.


Finopotamus spoke with Rob Landis, John Landis’ son and company president, at the show to discuss Corelation’s continued success.


Careful Planning 

Rob Landis

With so many new contracts, Finopotamus asked Landis about conversion capacity. “We have a very careful process that lands us between 24 and 30 conversions in a year,” said Landis. “The reason we have that range is because no two credit unions are alike. No two conversions are alike. We want to make sure we have the right mix and that we're not setting anybody up for any sort of failure.”


It’s not uncommon among core processors to have the same team responsible for both new client conversions and mergers. However, such is not the case at Corelation. “We used to [have a single team for both], but we've now created a dedicated merger team,” said Landis. “It has all of its own resources. It's similar, obviously, but it has its own project management, conversion programming team, and implementation support team.” He added that there’s so much merger activity, Corelation is doubling the size of that merger team this year.


Keys to Success


Asked to what he attributes Corelation’s success, Landis admitted that’s he’s “slightly biased,” but said the company’s success all starts with its technology. “I genuinely believe that KeyStone is the best core system out there,” he told Finopotamus. “It has all the functionality that you'd be looking for from an infrastructure perspective. It's remarkably scalable – scales up or scales down.”


Landis added that while the technology is key, there’s more to it than that. “I think our real key to success is the people that support our technology,” he explained. “We are laser focused on being the best credit union core processing company in the industry. That's all we do. We picked our lane; we want to swim as fast as we can in it, so we don't get distracted by other things. That lends itself to a really talented, passionate group of … we call ourselves ‘Corelatives.’ We don’t serve multiple masters. We have one thing that we focus on and we try to be the very best at it.”


Cultural Fit


Each year, the Corelation conference opens with a comedic video acted and produced by employees. This year’s video was called The Uncoreables, a spoof of The Untouchables. According to Landis, a prospect credit union that attended the event last year was put off by the humor and the overall relaxed nature of the event.


“We take our work very, very seriously,” said Landis, “but that doesn't mean that we have to take ourselves very seriously. When you get a group of creative and dedicated folks together, there has to be a little bit of room for fun, a little bit of room for levity. Instead of trying to keep that behind a curtain, we celebrate it. We are an organization that's not necessarily going to be for everyone.”


Just as the company looks for a good cultural fit in prospective clients, it does the same in hiring new employees. “It's something that's crucial to us as we're hiring, as we're onboarding folks,” acknowledged Landis. “It’s not just the initial orientation. We typically have people be a part of the organization for nine months to a year before they're asked to really contribute. That gives them time to learn not just what we're doing, but how we go about doing it. If they can be themselves at work, they’ll do their best work. We find that resonates with a lot of credit unions, too.”


More in the Core


More in the core is an often-heard catchphrase at Corelation. This speaks to the company strategy to build as much functionality into the KeyStone platform as possible. This contrasts with some other core processors that seem to be taking a less in the core approach, modularizing many basic system components.


“It's been our philosophy from day one,” said Landis. “We want to add a huge amount of functionality into KeyStone so our credit unions can take advantage of as much as they want.” He added that this approach ultimately translates to greater choice for credit unions. If they want to take advantage of the built-in functionality in KeyStone, they can. And if they need more than KeyStone has to offer – in a loan origination system, for example – they can easily integrate a third-party LOS via Corelation’s KeyBridge API.


“What we are seeing in the industry is this pulling apart of core systems, kind of a minimization,” continued Landis. “We like to believe we can win at that game, too. KeyStone can be as stripped down as you want. It could just be a data processing system and with the KeyBridge API around it, you can plug in all the different services you choose.”


Leading to Linux


The KeyStone platform was originally designed for IBM Power Series servers running AIX, the IBM version of the UNIX operating system. In October of 2020, Corelation announced support for Linux running on X86-64 hardware.


“From the beginning, John Landis and (Chief Innovation Officer) Jeff Dent had planned to make every layer of the architecture stack swappable so we'd never get cornered,” explained Landis. “We're doing our best to make sure KeyStone remains future proofed. Over time, the X86 hardware and the Red Hat Linux operating system started to prove out as the platform of the future.”


According to Landis, all new on-premise conversions now run KeyStone in the X86/Linux environment. “There's no difference at the application layer,” he noted.


This environment also positions KeyStone well for an eventual move to the public cloud. “We are fully ready to go to the public cloud,” said Landis. “We're looking for someone to partner with us that wants to go there, or for a credit union that would like to be there. It's going to be a watershed moment when someone goes. We're ready and looking for someone to hold hands and jump.”


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