Recently released data from the National Credit Union Administration reveals credit unions finished 2017 with plenty of positive numbers – including a continuing trend of increasing assets and loans outstanding – but there also was the continuation of a long-term trend: the number of federally insured credit unions declined yet again.

Among the highlights:

  • Total assets in federally insured credit unions rose by $86 billion, or 6.7 percent, over the year ending in the fourth quarter of 2017, to $1.38 trillion.
  • Total loans outstanding increased $88 billion, or 10.1 percent, over the year to $957.3 billion. The average outstanding loan balance in the fourth quarter of 2017 was $14,807, up $565, or 4.0 percent, from one year earlier.
  • Federally insured credit unions added 4.5 million members over the year, and credit union membership in these institutions reached 111.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2017.
  • The delinquency rate at federally insured credit unions was 81 basis points in the fourth quarter of 2017, down slightly from one year earlier. The net charge-off ratio was 60 basis points, up from 55 basis points in the fourth quarter of 2016.
  • Insured shares and deposits rose $59 billion, or 5.7 percent, over the four quarters ending in the fourth quarter of 2017 to $1.09 trillion.
  • The loan-to-share ratio stood at 82.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, up from 79.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016.
  • The credit union system’s net worth ratio was 10.96 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, compared with 10.89 percent one year earlier.
  • Net income totaled $10.4 billion at an annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2017, up $0.87 billion, or 9.2 percent, from the same period a year ago.
  • The net interest margin for federally insured credit unions was $39.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017, or 3.0 percent of average assets. That compares with $36.0 billion, or 2.9 percent of average assets, in the fourth quarter of 2016.
  • The return on average assets for federally insured credit unions was 78 basis points over the year ending in the fourth quarter of 2017, up slightly from 76 basis points in the fourth quarter of 2016. The median return on average assets across all federally insured credit unions was 38 basis points, up 4 basis points from the fourth quarter of 2016.
  • The number of federally insured credit unions declined to 5,573 in the fourth quarter of 2017 from 5,785 in the fourth quarter of 2016. In the fourth quarter of 2017, there were 3,499 federal credit unions and 2,074 federally insured, state-chartered credit unions. The year-over-year decline is consistent with long-running industry consolidation trends.
  • The number of credit unions with a low-income designation rose to 2,542 in the fourth quarter of 2017 from 2,491 one year earlier.

The NCUA data confirmed another trend Credit Union Journal has been tracking for several years now: we call it the Great Divide. Smaller credit unions continue to struggle. CUs with less than $50 million in assets reported declines in loans, membership and net worth.

Consistent with long-running trends, NCUA said credit unions with assets of at least $1 billion reported the strongest growth in loans, membership and net worth over the year ending in the fourth quarter of 2017. Credit unions with less than $50 million in assets reported declines in loans, membership and net worth over the year.

In 2017:

  • The number of federally insured credit unions with assets of at least $1 billion increased to 287 in the fourth quarter of 2017 from 272 in the fourth quarter of 2016. These 284 credit unions held $875.6 billion in assets, or 64 percent of total system assets. Credit unions in this category reported loan growth of 13.7 percent. Membership rose 9.0 percent. Net worth increased 11.4 percent.
  • The number of federally insured credit unions with assets of at least $500 million but less than $1 billion increased to 244 in the fourth quarter of 2017 from 229 in the fourth quarter of 2016. These 244 credit unions held $172.7 billion in total assets, or 13 percent of total system assets. Credit unions in this category reported loan growth of 10.1 percent. Membership increased 6.3 percent. Net worth increased 6.4 percent.
  • The number of federally insured credit unions with at least $100 million but less than $500 million in assets declined to 1,026 in the fourth quarter of 2017 from 1,050 in the fourth quarter of 2016. These 1,026 credit unions held $229.3 billion in total assets, or 17 percent of total system assets. Credit unions in this category reported loan growth of 1.0 percent. Membership declined 3.8 percent. Net worth fell 0.9 percent.
  • The number of federally insured credit unions with at least $50 million but less than $100 million in assets fell to 709 in the fourth quarter of 2017 from 724 in the fourth quarter of 2016. These 709 credit unions held $50.6 billion in total assets, or 4 percent of total system assets. Credit unions in this category reported a 0.1 percent decline in total loans. Membership declined 4.3 percent. Net worth decreased 0.7 percent.
  • The number of federally insured credit unions with assets of at least $10 million but less than $50 million declined to 1,774 in the fourth quarter of 2017 from 1,851 in the fourth quarter of 2016. These credit unions held $44.2 billion in assets, or 3 percent of total system assets. Credit unions in this category reported a 0.9 percent decline in loans. Membership declined 5.8 percent. Net worth declined 2.8 percent.
  • The number of federally insured credit unions with less than $10 million in assets declined to 1,533 in the fourth quarter of 2017 from 1,659 in the fourth quarter of 2016. These credit unions held $6.4 billion in assets, or less than 1.0 percent of total system assets. Credit unions in this category reported a 5.5 percent decline in loans. Membership fell 8.8 percent. Net worth declined 5.0 percent.

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