FORT SMITH, Ark. (4/17/14)--With economic activity starting to sizzle, at least one small Arkansas-based credit union has been leveraging the upward trend into gains in loan growth, while also sharing its secrets for success.
With consumer borrowing up $16.5 billion in February, and auto and student loans gaining $18.9 billion as well--the largest one-month leap since February of last year--River Town FCU, Fort Smith, Ark., with $14 million in assets, is trying to capitalize on the recent economic surge (Leaguer April 16).
It appears to be succeeding.
"Since the economic recession, consumers have felt a little uneasy about taking on more debt," said Tim Bowers, River Town loan manager. "But it seems they are feeling more secure in their ability to manage new debt. Since January of this year, we've seen steady loan growth."
River Town offers several loan products, such as credit cards, signature loans, home equity, recreational vehicle and motorcycle loans.
For mortgage lending, the Arkansas-based credit union uses CU Members Mortgage, a business partner of Credit Union Resources.
But of all loan products, Bowers told Leaguer, the member-owned institution has seen the strongest improvements in auto lending.
"People have been driving their cars for longer because they haven't wanted to take on new debt," Bowers said. "However, that's starting to change as people are biting the bullet and trading in their aged and high-mileage vehicles for new or pre-owned vehicles with less mileage. As a result we're seeing a greater demand for auto loans."
Meanwhile, not only has Bowers pushed River Town to take advantage of the healing economy, he's also offering up ways other credit unions can cash in.
To maximize products and services, Bowers advises credit unions: