The National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions on Tuesday released its 2017 NAFCU Report on Credit Unions, with the lead finding being credit unions are expanding their offerings for members despite increasing regulatory burdens.

According to NAFCU, preserving the credit union tax exemption remains the trade group’s top legislative priority “because of the economic benefits it brings.” NAFCU said it is “actively engaged” with lawmakers this week to ensure the exemption is “untouched” in the tax reform bill being marked up by the House Ways and Means Committee.

“Our 2017 NAFCU Report on Credit Unions reveals that even in the face of regulatory challenges and financial pressures, credit unions continue to provide exceptional service to nearly 110 million members across the country and stimulate the national economy with more than $16 billion annually in benefits,” Dan Berger, NAFCU’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

NAFCU CEO Dan Berger
NAFCU CEO Dan Berger Harrison McClary

NAFCU's report examines five key areas: credit union trends, credit unions’ service to their members and use of Federal Reserve services, legislative issues facing credit unions, regulatory issues facing credit unions, and emerging challenges facing credit unions.

Some of the highlight findings in the 2017 study:

  • Overall industry growth is “strong,” despite the fact many not-for-profit credit unions are small, highly regulated and typically operate with much smaller margins than their for-profit counterparts.
  • Investing in technology remains a high priority for credit unions, as evidenced by the growth in the number of institutions offering remote deposit capture, mobile payments and other electronic services.
  • The Federal Reserve remains a critical source of transaction services for the industry.
  • Modernized field of membership rules, including a strong federal charter and the ability to serve underserved areas, are “crucial to the future welfare” of the credit union industry.
  • Regulatory burden continues to be a “drag” on credit unions, while non-traditional financial service providers that are directly competing with credit unions are “largely unencumbered” by existing rules.
  • Continued outreach to millennials and young adults is “key to credit union strategic growth.”

NAFCU said the information gathered in the 2017 NAFCU Report on Credit Unions is based on the association’s Federal Reserve Meeting Survey, an annual assessment of NAFCU members covering topics discussed in the report. The report also draws on data collected for NAFCU’s Economic & CU Monitor, CU Industry Trends Report and the association’s updated 2017 study, “Economic Benefits of the Credit Union Tax Exemption to Consumers, Businesses and the U.S. Economy.”