Proactive Lenders Succeed Even in Tough Times

Invest time in strategic planning about what’s required to achieve loan growth cost-effectively.

January 22, 2013

The difference between being proactive and being passive is the difference between loan growth and stagnation.

That’s the message from Edward Guerin, vice president for credit union development at MeridianLink, which delivers automated loan origination and account-opening solutions to more than 500 credit unions nationwide.

Guerin says proactive credit unions invest time in strategic planning, including “strategic thought” about what’s required to achieve loan growth cost-effectively.

Passive lenders, on the other hand, simply wait for tough times to pass when the economy or other events cause lending to lag.

Guerin suggests two approaches for moving from a passive to a proactive lending approach. First, credit unions should reach out to nonmembers, inviting them to apply for loans rather than simply explaining how to join.

Guerin praises $410 million asset Harvard University Employees Credit Union, Cambridge, Mass., for encouraging nonmembers to visit its website to apply for a credit card, get an instant decision, become a member, and then receive the card.

“Never before has a credit union come up with a four-step process for getting new members and new loans, all at the same time,” Guerin says.

Second, credit unions should expand “indirect” lending to include business development efforts aimed at merchants and elective health-care providers seeking to help customers finance major purchases.

Guerin adds that credit unions should make sure members and nonmembers have access to a variety of delivery channels to apply for loans. “The credit unions that take these proactive steps are faring quite well, even in today’s economic environment.”