Expectations for increased loan demand are high among some credit unions CEOs.
According to Catalyst Corporate Federal Credit Union’s most recent CU CEO Confidence Survey, second-quarter 2013 measurement represented a jump of 4.2 points over the first quarter report and a year-over-year confidence surge regarding lending of almost 13 points.
During the first half of 2013, consumer sentiment improved just enough to see overall annualized loan growth increase to about 4%, aided by a sizeable increase in auto sales during the first quarter, said Brian Turner, director and chief strategist for Catalyst Strategic Solutions, a subsidiary of the Plano, Texas-based Catalyst Corporate.
“This helped to push the industry’s vehicle loan growth upward to about 9%, and mortgage loans increased 4% during the same time frame. Both increases are welcome improvements over the doldrums of the past three years,” Turner said.
As president/CEO of the $4.8 million Printing Office Employees Credit Union in Los Angeles, Tom Farrar said he would like to see loan demand rise, although he views the fact that his members aren’t borrowing as positive in some ways.
“I sincerely hope loan demand will increase over the next six months,” Farrar said. “There’s a lot of talk about the economy improving. We’re not seeing that here.”
Because POE’s field of membership revolves around the hard-hit printing industry, Farrar said all of the credit union’s select employee groups have experienced downsizing.
“It’s tough on the members and on the credit union,” he said. “However, the overall financial condition of my members is improving, not because of the economy, but because of lessons learned in the downturn."
Farrar said as people make progress in turning around bad credit scores, they’re not taking out loans. Still, he believes his members may soon loosen their purse strings a bit. In the meantime, he said the credit union is well-capitalized and will continue to ride out the storm.
Most of the loan growth continues to reside in the industry’s largest peer group of $500 million or more in total assets, Turner said. This group represents about 94% of the industry’s assets. However, less than 7% of the number of credit unions experienced a 9% increase in loans.
Turner said this indicates that the remaining 93% of the credit unions collectively experienced a 6% decline in loans, mostly from institutions with less than $150 million in assets. The good news is that the rate of decline is half the rate experienced during the first quarter of 2013 for these credit unions, he noted.
Turner questioned whether some of the loan growth in the first half of the year might be associated with typical heightened consumer loan demand that traditionally occurs in summer or early fall.
“If the association is significant, the 4% annualized growth rate may be unsustainable over the second half of the year,” Turner suggested. “There is early evidence that consumer spending is cooling off again after hitting a three percent increase during the first quarter.”
Catalyst Corporate’s quarterly survey measures CEO confidence in the economy from very negative to very positive (-100 to +100) in six areas:
- Current financial condition of members
- Current financial condition of the credit union
- Anticipated financial condition of members in six months
- Anticipated financial condition of the credit union in six months
- Anticipated loan demand at the credit union in six months
- Anticipated share deposit growth at the credit union in six months
Questionnaires were sent to 1,356 CEOs at Catalyst Corporate member credit unions in July with 201 responding, according to the corporate.