With an eye on building green loan market share, Filene Research Institute and a Virginia consulting firm teamed up this week to quantify credit union practices based on a new survey tool distributed to CUs charting profit experience.
So far, 100 CUs have agreed to participate in the survey of CU lending aimed at going beyond call reports to chart exactly what kinds of loans CUs are marketing and for what purposes.
"The research is also exploring the performance of these loans as well as the types of partnerships credit unions have formed with state and local governments, utilities, and nonprofit organizations to market and support these lending efforts," said a statement issued by Hall Associates Consulting, a Dumfries, Va., firm conducting the survey.
Results from the lending survey, due to be released in March or April, "will build upon three years of work we have done in sustainable lending research to give the first widespread view of how much green lending is happening at credit unions," said Filene's chief research officer, George Hofheimer.
The research, Filene said, is intended to provide insight into whether access to affordable credit is really a problem in promoting energy efficiency and alternative energy retrofits by the nation's homeowners and small businesses
"It is a common assumption among policymakers and academics that financial institutions are not providing sufficient access to credit to allow homeowners and businesses to reduce their energy consumption or adopt alternative sources of energy," said W. Robert Hall, president of the Hall firm. "The truth is we really don't know if this is so."
One of the primary ways information is gathered about green lending has been the quarterly call reports but those reports provide only limited data on what the loans are actually used for, Hall said.
"We can see from call reports that a financial institution is making a certain volume of unsecured or home equity loans, but we don't know how the money is being used. Is it to pay for a child's college education, to take a trip to Europe, or to install solar panels on a home? We really don't know."
The survey should help to clear up some of those practices with results providing insight to CUs on green loan strategy, Hall said.