The CUNA Lending Council has recognized six credit unions with its Excellence in Lending Award in honor of their “exemplary” lending practices.

The awards were handed out during the 23rd CUNA Lending Council Annual Conerence, and the council, together with CUNA Mutual Group, recognized these CUs for having “implemented outstanding lending programs while demonstrating sound financial performance.”

CUNA Mutual Group’s Andrea Stritzke, director of lending compliance, presented the awards to the following six credit unions:

  • $40.6 million Citymark Federal Credit Union of Wilkes Barre, Pa. (Consumer Lending cateogory)
  • $1.1 billion Y-12 FCU of Oak Ridge, Tenn. (Consumer Lending category)
  • $515 million Pima FCU of Tucson, Ariz. (Mortgage Lending category)
  • $6.9 billion VyStar CU of Jacksonville, Fla. (Business Lending category)
  • $183 million Fitzsimons CU of Aurora, Colo. (Low-to-modest Means Lending category)
  • $278 million CASE CU of Lansing, Mich. (Low-to-modest Means Lending category)
Representatives from the winning credit unions, along with representatives from the CUNA Lending Council and CUNA Mutual Group
Representatives from the winning credit unions, along with representatives from the CUNA Lending Council and CUNA Mutual Group

Citymark FCU
Citymark FCU was recognized by the judges for its “remarkable turnaround” resulting from a series of “successful strategies” to win members’ loan business. The credit union introduced risk-based relationship pricing to offer more competitive rates, while its employees were trained as universal employees able to accept loan applications and underwrite and disburse loans.

With $33 million in new loan volume as of July 2017, Citymark’s loan-to-share ratio has more than tripled to 97 percent, while return-on-assets moved from negative territory to 1.67 percent.

Y-12 FCU
Y-12 FCU was honored for its “multi-faceted approach” to growing consumer lending, including “improving the borrower experience, saying yes to more loans and enhancing operational efficiency.”
After hiring a new director of lending, the judges noted, the credit union “reorganized and centralized its lending staff and rewrote its loan policy and manual with a major shift to manage risk, not avoid it.” As a result, direct and indirect lending were consolidated into a single new platform, and e-signatures were introduced to further streamline the process. All of those improvements, among others, combined to increase loan volume by 30 percent in 2015 and 24 percent in 2016.

Pima FCU
Pima FCU was lauded for its “successful effort to enhance its reputation” as a mortgage lender. The credit union hired a new director of home loan originations, who expanded the team, introduced sales incentives, and moved mortgage lenders out to the branches. That higher profile, both with members and in the wider community, helped grow mortgage loan volume from under $15 million in 2013 to $42 million last year.

VyStar CU
VyStar CU was praised for its risk-based lending approach and “enterprise-wide commitment” to serving business members. The credit union developed risk-based lending policies and procedures to serve businesses across stages from start-up through full maturity, and its product offerings reflect that range. In 2016, its business loan portfolio increased 11.7 percent, with more than $45 million in new loans booked.

Fitzsimons CU/Case CU
Both of these credit unions honored for lending to people of modest means and for demonstrating that making this commitment “can be good for members and for business.”

Fitzsimons CU, the judges explained, aimed for a “balanced approach” in lending by offsetting its low-dollar loan programs to lower-income members with growth in mortgage and auto loans.
More than a quarter of the residents in its home base of Aurora, Colo., are Hispanic and Latino, so the credit union has developed specialized loan products for those members. It also makes loans to members without legal status, who present their Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

CASE CU was honored for its “strategy to lift up the underbanked in a respectful manner.” As a Community Development Financial Institution, CASE serves a membership in which the majority are of low-to-modest means. The credit union has worked with community groups to develop loan programs that meet its members’ special needs. For example, its “Borrow and Save Loan Launch” helps borrowers develop a savings habit by providing 50 percent of the loan amount up front and setting the rest aside in a savings account that is released when the loan is paid off.

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