MADISON, Wis. -- Gains in membership so far this year are already exceeding 2006's numbers for the same period.
That's according to the latest data in CUNA Mutual Group's Credit Union Trends Report. Year-to-date estimates through April, the most current month tracked, show the nation's credit unions have generated a net increase of almost 900,000 members. This is 223,000 (35%) above results for the first four months of 2006 and just slightly above the four-year average, the data showed.
"Tempering our year-end forecast are credit unions aggressively purging inactive members and the removal of indirect loan-only members upon payoff," said Dave Colby, chief economist at CUNA Mutual and author of the report. "Current results indicate we are well on our way to outperform the 2007 forecast."
Colby said the industry can expect a net increase of roughly a million members per year over the next three years providing there is "no significant change in the value of the credit union charter."
Meanwhile, not all CUs are enjoying membership gains. First quarter NCUA data show 3,889 CUs reporting YTD declines in membership. These CUs held roughly 25% of all assets at the end of the first quarter.
Included in this group are 21 CUs with assets in excess of $1 billion.
As for credit union consolidation, through the first four months of 2007, the count was down by 81 institutions, compared to a 111 decline for the same period in 2006, according to the report. Currently, CUNA Economics & Statistics' estimates show 8,581 CUs. Colby pointed out that NCUA's Insurance Report of Activity show 92 approved mergers YTD, with stronger volumes in March and April. Over the past twelve months, there has been a net decline of 323 CUs including the loss of 11 CUs in April.
"While current results indicate less consolidation than our forecast, month-only declines are generally stronger in the second half of the year," Colby said.
CUNA Mutual is forecasting 8,312 CUs by year-end and an average annual decline of about 360 CUs over the next three years. Colby said the reductions are focused on the smaller asset class CUs--under $20 million in assets.
"[Our] forecast assumes no major shocks which significantly change the value of a credit union charter," Colby said. "As noted in the past, forecast risks are weighted toward more rapid consolidation."