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ARLINGTON, Va.-With the increasing popularity of risk-based lending programs, NAFCU’s research team decided to delve into credit union trends in the risk-based lending arena. NAFCU’s November Flash Report reported that 80% of respondent credit unions say they currently use risk-based pricing with 64% responding that they use an A through E grading system. Forty-one percent of the A-E users also use additional breakdowns, but 37% said they used fewer tiers. The most common classification additions (26% of respondents) were the addition of pluses and minuses. The other 22% said they do not use a grading system, except for a two-tier classification system at most of those institutions, NAFCU found. With only 9% of credit unions considering changing their classification system in the next year, according to the Flash Report, most appear to be comfortable with their standards. Most of those planning a change explained that they were going to add a bankruptcy indicator system or implement risk-based lending. When NAFCU members using a grading system were asked to consider their importance on a scale of one (most important) to five (least important), the median response was a three, “indicating moderate importance,” the report concluded. The extremes were 13% for the “most important” element and 25% for the “least important” element. “It appears that risk-based lending is common practice as credit unions move to better manage member risk and provide more competitive loan products to additional members,” the Flash Report read. “As a result, it is likely that more credit unions will adopt this type of lending practice in the future.”

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