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Southeastern CUs growth outpaces nation
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (12/13/12)--Credit unions in Alabama and Florida continue to increase membership at a record pace--outpacing the rest of the nation, according to the League of Southeastern Credit Unions.

Through the first three quarters of the year, Alabama and Florida credit unions added a collective 165,000 new members. In the third quarter, Florida credit unions added 35,000 new members and Alabama credit unions increased their memberships by 16,000. Both states have a record number of members--4.7 million in Florida and 1.83 million in Alabama.

"Southeastern credit unions' membership is growing at 2.5%, which is higher than the national credit union average," said Patrick La Pine, president/CEO. "We've seen five straight quarters of record growth. Between the two states, nearly 250,000 new members have joined a credit union during this span. This is an unprecedented stretch of membership growth."

Members business lending (MBL) also remains strong among Florida and Alabama credit unions. Florida has grown its MBLs 7.9% through the three quarters, while Alabama has increased its MBLs 7.6%. Each state is above the national credit union average of 5.7% growth. That also represents a more than 5% increase in MBL growth over 2011.

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are urging Congress to increase credit unions' MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. CUNA and credit unions say that increasing the cap would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in business loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers.

Overall, lending also has improved as the economy picks up. Florida and Alabama credit unions saw 2% loan growth through the period--a significant gain since loan growth was negative the past two years in both states, the league said.

Delinquent loans and net charge offs are improving with each quarter. In Alabama, delinquent loans are at 1.3%--just above the national credit union average, while Florida delinquent loans are higher at 2.3%, but down considerably the past two years (2.86% and 3.16%). Net charge offs in Alabama are below the national average at 0.65%. Florida net charge offs are higher than the national average at 1.3% but again, well below the past three years (1.79%, 2.21% and 2.14%).

Asset growth in Alabama and Florida has been significant in 2012, the league said. Collectively, credit unions have added $3 billion in assets through the first three quarters, $500 million more than was added in all of 2011. Alabama credit unions are growing their assets slightly above the national credit union average and hold a record $17.6 billion in assets.

In Florida, asset growth is slightly below the national average; however, two years ago, asset growth in Florida was negative. Credit unions in Florida hold $45.5 billion in assets.

The net-worth ratio for Alabama and Florida credit unions is healthy, the league reported. Alabama credit unions have an 11% net worth ratio. Florida credit unions have a 10% net worth ratio for the first time in four years. A financial institution is considered well capitalized with a net worth ratio of 7%.
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