The Central Bank of Ireland have today (30th March 2023) published its ninth edition of the Financial Conditions of Credit Unions Report.
Commenting on the Central Bank’s report on the Financial Conditions of the Credit Union sector, ‘Kevin Johnson, CEO of the Credit Union Development Association, which works with over 50 credit unions, said
“Loan volumes are up, and the loan-to-asset ratio is definitely improving, but not by as much or as quickly as we would like. We believe that there’s an absolute need to resolve this by expanding the loan profile of credit unions and prudently growing loan books across the sector.
Competition in the mortgage market has reduced following the departures of Ulster Bank and KBC, and with the non-banks struggling to offer competitively priced products, there’s a clear opening for credit unions to substantially expand their mortgage products. CUDA has been at the forefront of this, with its members initially entering the mortgage market in 2018 targeting specific lending needs, since 2021 we have worked with credit unions to expand their offerings and we are now working to expand this to more credit unions.
New legislation that is progressing through the Oireachtas and scheduled for enactment this year will support this, as it will allow credit unions to refer lending business to each other which means that even those credit unions without mortgage lending underwriting skills will be able to facilitate their members.
Each credit union is a separate legal entity with its own Board and management team, and they are not currently permitted to share business. These changes will help credit unions make a greater financial, social, and environmental contribution as their legislation framework is modernised.
Credit Unions have significantly modernised in the past decade – their structure, legal and regulatory status, product offerings, and service delivery methods have advanced considerably. In particular their digital capabilities were accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Members can still access the traditional set of personal loans and savings, and now they can also avail of current accounts, ‘one stop shop’ retrofit loans, mortgages, revolving credit, debit cards, community loans, agricultural loans, as well as loans for small businesses. These are accessible face to face, over the phone or via online facilities. Recent rises in interest rates will have a significantly positive impact on the ROA for all credit unions as this will result in them getting a better return on their investments.”