NCUA Q1 Economic Report: Oregon Success Overview

The results of NCUA’s Quarterly U.S. Map Review reflect Northwest credit unions’ impressive ability to anticipate and adapt to member needs in an ever-evolving marketplace. In several categories, credit unions in the state of Oregon rose to the top. Oregon ranked first in the nation in key areas such as asset, deposit, and loan growth.

The state’s credit unions have also experienced exceptional membership growth, contrasting the national trend. Nationally, 51 percent of federally insured credit unions had fewer members at the end of first quarter of 2017 than a year earlier. NCUA reports Oregon saw an increase of 1.9 percent, ranking fourth in the nation for median annual membership growth.

Oregon State Credit Union stands among the most impressive in this area, achieving 12 percent growth in membership year-over-year. Oregon State Credit Union Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rhonda Heile-Brown credits the success to an emphasis on excellent service.

“Our focus on member service has created a loyal base that refers friends and family members to the credit union,” explained Heile-Brown. “Our service culture, product offerings, and overall reputation have attributed to our continued ability to maintain membership growth above the national average.”

NCUA reports that Oregon credit unions also ranked second in the nation for Return on Average Assets (ROAA). Portland-based Pacific Northwest Ironworkers Federal Credit Union exemplifies these record numbers, having achieved an impressive 302 basis points.

The credit union’s underdog story is as inspiring as its ROAA score. When the once-troubled organization — which was struggling with loan losses, and had been downgraded by the NCUA — came under CEO Teri Robinson’s management in 2010, she embarked on a mission to restore its sinking net worth to vibrant health.

“Our main focus was looking at every avenue to reduce expenses, while continuing to loan out money and invest in our members,” said Robinson of the credit union’s approach. “This investment paid off, and our good work was promoted largely by word of mouth.”

Today, the credit union’s troubles have been replaced by a reputation for impressive growth. “To have the success we’re experiencing now has been phenomenal. As you can see by our numbers, we’re performing even better than many large credit unions, and with limited resources. We have only nine employees,” said Robinson.

Robinson is eager to offer encouragement and advice for other small credit unions seeking avenues for growth. “Smaller credit unions are needed now more than ever,” she said. “The bottom line is to be aggressive about finding out who your members are borrowing from, and go get it.”

Stay tuned for the next article in this series highlighting the performance of Oregon, Idaho, and Washington credit unions in the NCUA report.

Posted in Around the NW, NCUA.