Credit union members are boosting their savings despite a number of factors that could easily affect their progress.
Member savings were up 3.2% year-to-date and 5% year over year, according to CUNA Mutual Group’s September Credit Union Trends Report, which tracked data through July.
The growth comes in the face of seasonal drawdowns, pay cycle lows and deposit yields remaining at record lows, the report noted.
Current rates paid on deposit accounts were well below even last year’s poor returns, wrote Dave Colby, CUNA Mutual chief economist, in the report.
It’s difficult to grow deposits with this low rate of internal accumulation, Colby explained. Since the short end of the yield curve hasn’t moved significantly, he said he expects credit unions’ cost-of-funds to remain low well into 2015, barring any shocks which would trigger Fed discount rate increases.
“The good news is our outlook for the economic environment hasn’t changed,” Colby said. “The bad news is we continue to call for a weak economic expansion, which could be easily derailed by a wide and growing array of events, many outside of our control.”
It’s too early to tell the impact of the run-up in longer-term interest rates, but it won’t improve growth, he added.
“Truly wild wildcards surround a very large number of scenarios (and) outcomes in the Middle East; almost all are negative,” Colby said. “Downside risks abound and it’s difficult to envision a creditable optimistic scenario.”
Still, credit unions can take solace in the fact they’ve been “battle-hardened over the past six years of economic decline and malaise,” Colby offered.
“It will take a significant event to throw the credit union system from its recovery stride,” he said. “Be ever vigilant.”