Trailhead Shares How COVID-19 Evolved the Credit Union’s Lending Strategy

The pandemic has taught credit unions a lot about their lending capacity.

As members faced serious financial hurdles such as job loss and reduced wages, credit unions quickly responded with low-interest loans, forgiving terms, and flexibility in processing loans remotely. When the Paycheck Protection Program launched, credit unions worked day and night to quickly fund thousands of small business loans.

CreditUnions.com recently interviewed five credit union experts around the country to hear what lessons they’ve learned in lending over the past year, and how they’ve put those lessons into action.

One of those experts is Abby Stage, Vice President of Lending at Trailhead Credit Union in Portland. Read on to see what she had to say.

Q: Do you have deferral programs or other special arrangements in place for members?

Stage: Over the summer, Trailhead worked with Business Oregon and three partner credit unions to deploy grants to small businesses across the state, with a focus on providing financial support to minority and women-owned sole proprietorships. Many of these businesses have experienced discernable disadvantages and did not qualify for PPP or EIDL funding. The grants alleviated some of their fiscal burdens brought on by the pandemic.

Currently, our focus is to help members via loan modification and payment deferrals to offer financial stability and relief during this difficult time. We consider several creative solutions in various scenarios to help our members while ensuring the overall health of the credit union.

Q: What have you learned in the past year that you’re building on in 2021?

Stage: Being nimble and having the ability to pivot and adapt to unknown, outside factors is crucial. Whether it’s rolling out a new loan product, reducing interest rates, or keeping up with the ever-changing regulations — we have to be able to make changes quickly.

Playing to our lending strengths, improving technologies and lending accessibility, and making informed decisions on economy trends also helps form our lending strategies — in 2021 and beyond. Operationally, the same balance between flexibility and educated foresight is critical to our strategic planning efforts.

Q: What are the biggest challenges and opportunities in your market for loan products?

Stage: Our biggest challenges as a small credit union are keeping up with technology. We will continue to leverage our “small enough to know better” mantra and focus on serving our membership in areas where we can thrive while also refining and enhancing our technology and delivery channel options.

We’ve reimagined some of our marketing and outreach approaches as the pandemic continues and will be updating our online and mobile banking applications during 2021 to accommodate members in this irregular landscape.

Editor’s Note: This article appeared originally on CreditUnions.com. Click here to read the full piece.

Posted in Around the NW.