As is the case with many credit unions, USA FCU didn't really have an adequate grip on the flood of information about its card transactions that regularly flowed from its third-party card processing firm, whom Cunningham would not identify. One of the first things Asset Exchange did was to analyze this data and present it to credit union executives and staff in ways that the credit union could better understand. The picture that emerged was of a credit union with a relatively high card penetration among its members and a fairly high degree of usage among cardholders. But the picture also showed that balances and accounts were declining and that delinquencies were on the rise. The bad news was alarming, Cunningham acknowledged, but the good news also opened the credit union's eyes about the asset's potential. "Essentially, the analysis made it clear why we should keep the portfolio," Cunningham said, "and it encouraged us to have patience and seek to grow it ourselves." Because the analysis was completed so recently, Cunningham explained that the credit union was still analyzing what it should do to reverse the negative card trends. "We have decided to hire a card specialist," Cunningham said, "and we are interviewing one now. We have a number of different options on the table, but we really haven't decided on which ones to choose yet." The possible options include a complete revamp of the program and cleaning up the credit union's card database, along with an increase in credit lines and making offers to draw new accounts. Cunningham said that the experience has left her with a clearer appreciation for both the need to keep an eye on the credit union assets as well as an understanding of what the asset is worth to someone else. The credit union is in the process of setting goals for portfolio growth and Cunningham indicated that it would revisit the sale question in the future if the goals cannot be met. "The advice I would give to other credit union executives is not to ignore their credit union's card program, Cunningham said. "And to go ahead and get your portfolio evaluated if you want to get a good idea of what your program is worth and what its strengths and weaknesses might be." -


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