BOSTON — A new report released by Aite Group highlights key issues in the credit union movement as a result of the financial crisis.“Most credit unions are well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them from the current financial crisis,” said Christine Barry, Aite Group research director and author of the report. “They should aggressively seek to expand market share, deploy smart technologies and penetrate new business segments, such as the small-business segment. They must act quickly, however-once the economy turns around, large banking institutions that have been stagnant for the last few months will hit the ground running.”The report is based on the results of a combination of phone and online surveys with a panel of 50 U.S. credit unions.One question the report asked participating credit unions was what new opportunities have sprung from the financial crisis. Sixty-six percent said that there was a growth in deposits due to members withdrawing money from the stock market. Fifty-eight percent said there was a growth in deposits due to new members withdrawing all their funds from banks. Half said they saw better positioning of the credit union to compete with large banks. Fifty percent also said they saw increased loan originations due to credit freezes at many large banks, and 36% said they saw growth in deposits due to new members withdrawing funds above FDIC limits from banks.On the negative side, the report also examined the challenges that credit unions are facing as a result of the current economic conditions.One aspect discussed was location. The report said that credit unions located in states such as California, Arizona, Florida and Nevada, the state hit hardest by the downturn in the economy and mortgage crisis, are not seeing the opportunities that other credit unions are. In those areas, credit unions are forced to focus on their own challenges and, as a result, downsize and close branches. Even though these credit unions did not participate in the subprime market, members may have at other institutions and credit unions are seeing their loan delinquencies rise.When asked what new challenges their organization is faced with as a result of the current financial crisis, 40% of participating credit unions said that members are concerned about the safety of their deposits at the credit union.–[email protected]

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