Everything's increasing for Kansas credit unions

Loans, members, assets and delinquencies were up for Kansas credit unions in the third quarter.

That's according to a report from the Kansas Department of Credit Unions released this week.

The report says that assets were up 14 percent to $3.75 billion compared to third quarter 2008.

Membership increased nearly 6 percent to 539,000.

Loans moved higher, to $2.5 billion, as did delinquencies, which climbed 42 percent to $35.6 million compared to the same period a year ago.

John Smith, KDCU's administrator, said he expected higher delinquencies because of a tough economy.

"We thought we'd see more of an increase," he said. "But our better credit unions are working their collections, trying to do a better job of that.

"That's why I'd like to see end-of-year numbers."

As for growth in assets and loans, Smith and Dick Yadon, administrator of KDCU's examiners, continue to think that their growth is helped by a "flight to safety" — people putting their money in interest-bearing deposit accounts instead of equities — and competition with banks.

"I think it reflects rates, too," Smith said. "Credit unions are very competitive in their markets."

Loan growth was propelled locally by a number of federal government programs, including tax credits for first-time homebuyers and the Cash for Clunkers program, said Jim Holt, president of Mid American Credit Union.

"We got a lot of business out of that," Holt said.

Holt also said that in difficult economic times, some consumers rely more on unsecured credit — such as credit cards and signature loans — to get by.

"They think of their credit as a fallback position," he said.

Earnings were tougher to come by for credit unions in the quarter that ended Sept. 30.

Credit unions' return on average assets was 0.80 percent before accounting for money they had to pay to replenish the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund and fees to offset the earlier failures of two large, national corporate credit unions.

Once those fees were factored in, credit unions' ROAA was 0.69 percent.

KDCU's Yadon said the benchmark ROAA is 1 percent for a strong and healthy credit union.

"That benchmark is no longer really valid because of the economic conditions we're in," Smith said.

Yadon said he expects that to change.

"Probably next year, when these losses have washed through the system," he said.