MADISON, Wis. – More credit unions are turning to remote channels to increase their lending growth and cross-selling their financial products and services during the loan transaction to stay competitive. This, according to the latest Lending Strategies and Trends Research report from CUNA Mutual Group. Seventy-six percent of credit unions with $50 million or more in assets say that a key challenge for their credit union right now is to integrate delivery channels, and 71% say that in 2003, they increased their cross-selling efforts. Over the last eight years, the Lending Strategies and Trends Research has shown an increase in the adoption of remote channels by credit unions. In 1996, 18% of credit unions with $50 million or more in assets were making loans via the Internet. By 2003, that percentage had substantially increased to 81%. The percentage of credit unions doing indirect lending also increased from 30% to 46%, and the percentage outsourcing their call center increased from 16% to 33%. The report found that credit unions continue to see the importance of remote access, and in developing the volume through these channels. Still, the proportion of loans made through these channels remains relatively stable over time, according to the report. Cross-selling also has not increased significantly in its effectiveness. Other key findings include outsourcing activity has increased as a means of adding to loan processing capabilities; the makeup of lending portfolios has been changing; credit unions have registered some concern about their current portfolio makeup; real estate lenders continue to develop the Internet for back office processing and as a delivery channel; and credit unions continue to search for innovative solutions to meet member needs. With the complexities of an increasingly competitive marketplace, nearly one-third (36%) of credit unions say that it is their perception that the non-traditional supplier of financial services rather than banks or other credit unions provides their biggest competitive challenges in lending.

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