I heartily agree with NAFCU President Fred Becker's comments in the Sept. 17, 2008, issue of Credit Union Times, which encouraged credit unions to focus on making responsible loans to members. Becker noted that credit unions have increased their market share of home mortgage loans--to 3.6%. While I applaud the growth, there's still a lot of room for credit unions to do more.
At ALM First Financial Advisors, we have long believed a credit union's best investment is to make member loans. And in today's turbulent economy, where else should members go? Liquidity is tight and getting tighter, and many financial institutions are in no mood to help people of "average means." If not for their credit union, many qualified members could not obtain a home loan at all.
Of course, I'm not suggesting we throw caution to the wind. Built into credit unions' desire to improve members' financial well being is the principle of "mutual self-help." That means acting prudently and encouraging responsible borrowing. For 75+ years, credit unions have proved to be sensible lenders, with credit losses and delinquencies continuing to be low.
Lending to members is a win-win: members' borrowing needs are met, and the credit union gains a new income stream. Opportunities abound to prove credit unions' value through this time-honored tradition. What are we waiting for?
Angela C. Calvert
Partner ALM First Financial Advisors