WASHINGTON – Credit unions involved with indirect lending are not only seeing an increase in their auto loan portfolios but also their membership ranks. Callahan & Associates’ latest creditunions.com E-Updates shows that in the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2004, more than 200 credit unions started indirect or point-of-service auto lending programs, making a total of more than 1,540 CUs that now offer this service. CUs are either developing their own programs or working with indirect lending CUSOs and third-party indirect program providers. Since mid-2004, indirect loans have increased 14.4% to $52.0 billion outstanding and made up 12.3% of all CU loans outstanding in 2004. In addition, at year-end 2004, CUs with indirect lending programs had a 3.27% 12-month membership growth rate compared to a 1.24% growth rate for CUs not involved with indirect lending. Noting there are several ways credit unions can improve management of their auto and member growth and that operating an indirect lending program is just one “substantial” method, Callahan & Associates recommends credit unions should also build their dealer relationships and track the performance differential between direct and indirect auto lending.