NCUA Q4 Economic Report: Oregon Success Snapshot

Oregon credit unions topped the charts in many categories that measure financial health, in the latest NCUA quarterly report. We traveled to the C-suite for some insight.

Oregon credit unions’ median annual loan growth averaged 8.9 percent in Q4, 2016—tied with Alaska for best in the country—and outpacing the national average of 4 percent.  At Milwaukee-based Oregonians Credit Union, loans grew 36.03 percent year-over-year, reflecting the highest percentage of loan growth in the state.

Oregonians Credit Union saw 36 percent loan growth in 2016

President/CEO Chuck Garner gives props to a strategic focus on auto lending. In the fourth quarter of 2015, the credit union brought Credit Union Direct Lending (CUDL) representative Frank Washburn out of retirement to shake things up.

“He has a great deal of sales and auto sales experience, as well as a long history in consumer finance,” said Garner. “Our CUDL originations went from $4.8 million in 2015, to $27.2 million in 2016.”

The other game changer for Oregonians was its conversion to a state charter, allowing the credit union to serve 13 counties.

“Before the conversion, we were SEG based and very limited in our ability to only approve CUDL loans for existing members. The added CUDL volume has also helped to improve our member growth,” Garner said.

While NCUA reports 51 percent of America’s federally insured credit unions saw a year over year decline in membership, Oregon memberships grew 1.6 percent. Rogue Credit Union, headquartered in Medford, outperformed the averages with 13.6 percent growth.  President and CEO Gene Pelham noted that “growth” in and of itself isn’t their strategy – commitment to members is.

“Our members want new technology, but they also want extended drive-up hours,” he said. “We’ve found that by retaining traditional services like full-service branches with drive-ups, combined with the latest technology, we’re not only experiencing significant new membership growth, we’re seeing increased engagement from our current members.”

That helps to explain Rogue’s 14.8 percent loan growth and 20 percent deposit growth in 2016.

Portland’s Point West Credit Union saw a 22 percent increase in loans in 2016, and 33 percent capital growth.

“Our loan growth success in 2016 is rooted in removing barriers in 2015, and building our market niche,” said Amy Nelson, CEO. “Point West moved to a centralized lending model, added weekend underwriting for indirect lending, implemented online loan decisioning and account opening, and tweaked numerous programmatic elements to adapt our lending parameters more nimbly in a competitive market.”

Nelson also credited Point West’s non-citizen lending portfolio, “a priceless and trusted marketing strategy which also fueled membership growth.”

Read the full report.  NCUA States’ Q4 2016.

Editor’s note: Next week’s snapshot takes us to Idaho.