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Ohio CUs find ways to lend
COLUMBUS, Ohio (8/23/12)--Credit unions in Ohio saw their consumer-loan-origination growth beat the national average, according to the Ohio Credit Union Quarterly Performance Summary.

Growth increased 37.1%  from March 2011 to March 2012, with consumer loans driving overall origination growth--which increased 33.7% to $1.5 billion during the same time period (Toledo Business Journal Aug. 1).

The summary provides encouraging news from a loan growth standpoint, according to the Ohio Credit Union League (eLumination Newsletter Aug. 8). Despite economic growth indicators which suggested a drawn-out recovery, loan growth at Ohio credit unions from March 30, 2011, to March 30, 2012, increased 4.7%. That is the strongest first-quarter growth performance since 2008-2009, which saw 8.26% growth, the league said.

Credit unions looked for creative ways to make the loans. KEMBA Financial CU in Gahanna expects 20% loan growth in 2012, CEO Jerry Guy told Columbus Business First, the league reported.

Mark Decello, KEMBA executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the credit union's growth strategy is focused on five key principles:

1. Transitioning from a transaactional sales approach to a relational approach;

2. Implementing a relationship pricing straegy to reward members based on their contribution to the cooperative;

3. Ensuring sales-oriented associates occupy all member-facing positions, from the call center to tellers to member services representatives.

4. Continuing a highly targeted matrix mailing program to reach members with pre-determiend needs, and carefully measuring the result; and

5. Taking advantage of what the marketplace affords, in a timley fashion.

KEMBA Financial's approach may seem sales-focused to an outsider, but the focus is still on the member, Decello said.

"Sale isn't a bad word," he told the league. "Our results are the true gauge of whether we are fulfilling our obligation to improve our members' financial lives. For example, we don't simply sell an auto loan to a member because they think it's their best option, we will review their financial situation and determine if it's the best way to save or make the member money."

Ohio's credit unions also saw strong growth in first mortgage originations (up 34.6%) and business loan balances (up 13.7%).
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