In what is a recurring feature, Finopotamus will profile interesting and intriguing tech professionals who are positively impacting the credit union industry.
For this issue, we visited with Core10’s Vice President of Technology Joel Legg. The Franklin, Tenn.-based fintech provides turnkey solutions to community banks and credit unions, making it easier to implement cutting-edge technologies, including application programming interface (API) integration, software as a service (SaaS) implementation and lending products.
By W.B. King
Recalling the crackling dial-up tone of the 1990s, along with the then ubiquitous AOL “You’ve Got Mail” messages, Joel Legg said that despite an early interest in technology innovations, he never considered a career in software development.
“To me, technology was part of everyday life,” he told Finopotamus. “It was something to use, not necessarily something to build.”
After earning an undergraduate degree in geology/earth science from Austin Peay State University in Tennessee, and later a master’s degree in petroleum geochemistry from the University of Alabama, Legg headed to Colorado in 2014 where he began his career as a petroleum geologist.
“I went on to work for Schlumberger, a large international drilling company. We worked on mapping oil reserves across several geographies, including some in the Middle East,” he shared. “It was computer-based work leveraging large data sets and ML (machine leaning) to complete our analysis. The thought of building and enhancing the tools I used every day sparked my interest in software development.”
After two years with Schlumberger, Legg enrolled at the Nashville Software School, an intensive full-time software development boot camp focusing on AngularJS and Node.js development fundamentals.
“I read every technical book I could get ahold of while also trying my hand at a few side projects,” he recalled, adding that he spent the next year serving as a software engineer at Libera, Inc.
Legg’s next stop was Core10 in 2018. He started as a software engineer, then became an engineering manager, and in 2022 was named vice president of technology. He explained that the software development company builds products for financial institutions and fintechs.
“I was enthralled after my first project,” he told Finopotamus. “I’ve worked on greenfield projects for fintechs, legacy technology rewrites and hybrid solutions, new loan origination systems, platforms for a credit union marketplace and application rewrites of critical services for a large core provider.”
Enhancing Digital Innovation Journeys
Legg further explained that Core10 is focused on building new solutions to support lending and account opening on Salesforce, and various middleware innovations that enable financial institutions to “take control” of their digital innovation journey.
To achieve this goal, he noted the company leans on its “dynamic team,” which consists of 48 “highly skilled” technical members who each bring a “unique set of talents and perspectives” to projects.
“Our commitment to diversity is reflected in the fact that 43% of our team comprises exceptionally brilliant women, enriching our organization with their invaluable contributions,” he continued. “Embracing the spirit of the times, 79% of our team members belong to the vibrant Gen Z and millennial/Gen Y generations. Their energy and innovative thinking infuse our workplace with a dynamic and forward-looking approach.”
Legg subscribes to the philosophy of hiring “smart people” and giving them the “freedom” to do their jobs. This includes creating a “vision and purpose,” explaining the “why” behind the project goal and then letting the team figuring out the “how.”
“This provides a sense of ownership of the product. I also like to connect teams with the customer. This helps them see the challenges first-hand and fully understand the importance of what we are building for each client,” he said. “At Core10, we also prioritize open communication. We consistently seek feedback to improve all aspects of the organization and rank highly in employee satisfaction scores.”
If considering new hires, Legg will sometimes look at boot camp programs, similar to Nashville Software School, where students are transitioning careers into the fintech space.
“I find that their drive and dedication is difficult to match,” he said. “Through personalized training budgets and access to abundant resources, we enable their personal and professional growth. We also prioritize open communication. We consistently seek feedback to improve all aspects of the organization and rank highly in employee satisfaction scores.”
Mutually Beneficial Partnerships
When Finopotamus asked Legg what tech trends are currently on his radar, he said banking-as-a-service (BaaS) continues to be a “massive opportunity” for credit unions.
“Consumers now expect similar experiences in their banking as they have in retail or other non-banking areas. A great example is Uber. The future of banking is simplicity for the consumer. To me, that means embedding financial services into everyday applications,” he continued. “Credit unions can start enabling these opportunities by leveraging their charter to work with non-bank applications. It’s one of the many projects we are working on at Core10, along with lending and account opening through Accrue and middleware solutions through Mesh.”
Due to a member-centric model, credit unions, he added, always look to implement technology geared toward enhancing their members’ experiences, while providing personalized financial support. “Credit unions are at the forefront of connecting systems to streamline the user experience and add valuable integrations for their members.”
Looking forward, Legg is encouraged to see that more and more fintechs and credit unions are realizing the importance of mutually beneficial partnerships.
“The world has moved to become an open, connected model of doing business and going digital at an exponential pace. Credit unions that rely on the old way of doing business won’t thrive, if they even survive,” he noted. “Innovative credit unions are leveraging best-of-class technology providers for simple account opening flows, easy online banking solutions and working with non-bank retailers to offer banking services.”