The First Look program collects data from credit unions representing $240 billion in assets, which is approximately 29% of the industry.
The data collected showed that operating expenses increased 6.1% in March 2009 from March 2008. Due to the fact that credit unions are also increasing the size of their balance sheets, operating expense ratios have declined. In March 2009, the First Look program reported an operating expense ratio of 2.63%, which was down from the 2.67% the same credit unions reported in December. The 2.76% the group reported in December was well below the national average 3.38% operating expense ratio.
For the efficiency ratio, the First Look program credit unions reported an average ratio of 92.1% for March 2009. Though the ratio increased from the reported ratio of 89.9% in December, it was still slightly below the national average of 92.4%.
According to Callahan, the most likely cause for the increase in the efficiency ratio was the increase in provision expenses that the First Look credit unions reported in the first quarter.
To read the full report, visit Callahan's Web site, www.creditunions.com.