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MADISON, Wis.-CUNA recently introduced a new initiative providing strategies to help credit unions help their bottom lines amidst climbing interest rates. CUNA’s Project LEAP: Showcasing Lending Excellence and Performance, with support from CUNA Mutual Group and the American Association of Credit Union Leagues, serves as a link to products and services offered through CUNA and the state leagues concerning anything from overall growth strategies to building membership to creating a sales and service culture. Credit unions’ ROA averaged around 95 basis points in 2004, down from 98 basis points the year before. Average ROAs could fall as low as 85 basis points in 2005 and down to 80 in 2006. CUNA makes a number of suggestions for credit unions to mitigate the impact of the declining interest rate margin: *Seek out smaller loans and market toward unsecured debt. *Implement a risk-based lending program for more loans at a higher yield. *Adopt a rate-change model that quickly reacts to Federal Reserve and competitive rate changes. *Create a lending incentive program that rewards staff for making “second” loans to members. *Maximize non-interest revenue opportunities by cross selling. Project LEAP explores these strategies and more, such as socioeconomic and technology trends affecting the demographics of credit unions, and influence the financial needs of members and their service preferences. More information is available through the `Project Leap’ link, under `CUNA Initiatives,’ on CUNA’s Web sits at www.cuna.org or e-mail [email protected]

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