What’s Your Credit Union’s Liquidity Strategy

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Compliance preparations for the National Credit Union Administration’s new emergency liquidity rule must have been completed by March 31 2014.

The liquidity rule sets up three-tiered emergency liquidity requirements for credit unions with less than $50 million in assets, between $50 million and $250 million in assets, and more than $250 million in assets.

Federally insured credit unions (FICUs) with less than $50 million in assets must maintain a basic written emergency liquidity policy but will not be required to take further action. All FICUs with assets of $50 million or more are required to develop contingency funding plans describing how their credit union will address liquidity shortfalls in emergency situations. FICUs with assets of $250 million or more would be required to have access to a backup federal liquidity source for emergency situations.

Why wouldn’t credit union’s with less than $250 million in assets not want to have access to a backup federal liquidity source such as the discount window or CLF for emergency situations?

The final rule does not include the Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLB) as an acceptable source of emergency liquidity, although eligible credit unions required to meet the federal source provisions would be free to borrow from a FHLB for nonemergency purposes. Without the FHLB, credit unions have two options to ensure a federal liquidity source for emergency situations: Becoming a member of the NCUA’s Central Liquidity Facility (CLF) by subscribing to CLF stock or access to the Federal Reserve’s discount window.

I strongly supports the use of the home loan banks for liquidity.

Why be concerned now about liquidity when most credit unions are still awash with funds resulting from a flight-to-safety fund inflows and loan portfolio outflows due to lack of loan demand?

• Rising rates typically are used to manage economic recoveries. so it is likely rising rates will be accompanied by a return of flight-to-safety funds to the market and a spike in loan demand, putting many credit unions back in the tight liquidity environment of a few years back.

• Many credit unions have rate floors under their variable rate loans.  As rates move up, rates on these loans won’t move for a while. But your cost of funds will.  The result is a compressed net interest margins or NIM

The objective of a viable liquidity policy and strategy is to provide a framework to minimize the adverse effects of a significant and sustained liquidity crisis.  This can result from changing economic or interest rate conditions, deposit outflows, unusually strong loan demand, intense competition, an international crisis, or any other factors that can deplete the liquidity of the credit union.

In the event of a serious and sustained liquidity crisis, various strategies, of which some would be considered preventative and must be implemented prior to the onset of a crisis.  Other strategies are reactive and may be implemented immediately.   The strategies will differ in terms of the implementation time, costs, risks, financial implications and regulatory consequences.

The first place to look for sources of liquidity is within your own balance sheet. More

Effects of the Economy on Credit Unions

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An operating environment resulting from slow growth in the economy, low interest rates, and nagging unemployment has from a macro-perspective produced an outcome of rapid savings growth, slow loan growth, and a steep yield curve.

We have seen:

  • Declining yield on assets due to lower interest rates plus the asset distribution shifting to lower-rate investments and maturing loans being replaced with low rate loans;
  • Declining cost of funds due to lower dividend rates plus the distribution of savings shifting to low-cost savings products;
  • Indeterminate net interest margin due to cost of funds falling faster than yield on assets if dividend rates are aggressively lowered.  However, if loan growth is very weak and savings growth very strong, yield on assets may fall faster than cost of funds;
  • Rising provisions for loan loss due to higher bankruptcies and charge-offs reflecting employment trends;
  • Lower operating expense to average asset ratio due to rapid savings growth increasing assets faster than the growth in operating expenses;
  • Higher fee income due to non-sufficient funds and late payments.
  • Return on assets will be flat to marginally lower; and
  • Capital-to-assets will be flat to marginally higher.

Things to consider in maintaining net income when interest rates are very low are listed below:

  • Avoid extending investment maturities significantly;
  • Limit additions to the fixed rate mortgage portfolio;
  • Don’t overreact by slashing operating expenses; and
  • Adjust rate paid on member savings downward.

Some factors to consider with respect to falling net worth ratios are as follows:

  • Members are seeking a safe place to store their financial assets (asset growth has been strong);
  • If rates paid on savings are not hyper-competitive, this savings growth can be healthy.

This blog entry you have just read was written by Edward Lis who is a former senior executive of three different credit unions. If you enjoyed this article I encourage you to learn more about Edward by visiting www.edwardlis.com or by calling 518-420-2108.

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Credit Union Mergers

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Back in the late 1970s there were approximately 20,000 federally insured credit unions in the US.  Fast forward to today and the number is down to less than 7,700 credit unions.

Our industry faces many challenges moving forward in the form of rising competition, new imposed regulations, as well as the long-term corporate stabilization and special NCUSIF premiums, a decrease in loan origination, increase deposit growth, low yielding investments prospects, and tighter margins. Collectively, these challenges have tempered growth opportunities for many credit unions.  Many are looking to the prospect of mergers as a means of building asset size, adding members, increasing net worth and/or expanding market share.  Mergers enable credit unions to increase their geographical footprint, enhance their technological capabilities, build their branch infrastructure or solve human resource challenges such as management succession issues.

Whether your the acquiring (acquirer) credit union or the one being acquired (acquiree) having a well-respected and knowledgeable credit union advocate and leader to assist in evaluating and acting upon one of the most important transactions that a credit union may consider-a merger with another credit union- is in the best interests of the credit union membership.  A merger has a life of its own; it contains a cycle from inception through “closing the deal” and the actual merging of the credit unions.

A merger can also be a tremendously emotional experience for volunteers, employees and members of a credit union.

Clearly, if considering a merger one may need to balance a number of competing interests as you begin the journey and undertake in determining whether to proceed with a merger opportunity.

I can assist the existing management and board in the determining the future of the credit union. If a decision to merge is made retaining outside assistance is highly recommended as this person can further provide guidance during the steps in the “life cycle” that the organization may encounter through the merger process and to raise pertinent legal, regulatory, accounting, and business issues that you may wish to consider in your credit union’s journey through the merger process.

This blog entry you have just read was written by Edward Lis who is a former senior executive of three different credit unions. If you enjoyed this article I encourage you to learn more about Edward by visiting www.edwardlis.com or by calling 518-420-2108.

The Future of Online Banking-Online Financial Management

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Banks and credit unions continually assess new online services to offer their consumers and members.

One of the newer online services is online financial management (OFM). Online financial management allows users to:

1) aggregate their financial accounts in one place;

2) have their transactions automatically categorized;

3) establish and monitor a budget; and

4) set financial goals and track their progress.

It’s been unclear whether online financial management’s capabilities would resonate enough with users to make them a more avid users of their primary financial provider’s online banking site.

OFM represents possibility the next evolution of online banking.  It’s about putting the consumer in control of their finances without any software to install or information to download.  OFM enables its users to see trends in their spending and even find ways to save – regardless of how many accounts they have or with what financial institutions.  OFM allows users to manage financial accounts from thousands of financial providers – including their credit cards, loans, deposits, investments, utility bills, etc. – all in one place.

More than 2 million people have already turned to third-party Web sites for personal financial management tools. According to Forrester Research, 8 out of 10 consumers would prefer to manage their finances at the place they trust most with their personal financial data – their financial institution.

OFM empowers consumers to manage their money with easy-to-use tools and automatic updates.  The product drives customer satisfaction, leading customers or members to log into your Web site more often, recommend your institution to friends and family, and adopt other online banking products.

Small Business Solutions:

With 27 million small businesses generating annual sales of $2 trillion, this segment offers significant revenue potential. In fact, because of their specific business needs, one small business is, on average, at least twice as profitable as two consumers.  Many OFM providers offer tools for small businesses.  Tools they need – and want – so they can better manage their business.

This blog entry you have just read was written by Edward Lis who is a former senior executive of three different credit unions. If you enjoyed this article I encourage you to learn more about Edward by visiting www.edwardlis.com or by calling 518-420-2108.

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