LAKE MARY, Fla.-The metaphorical canary has left the coal mine, which Scott Hansen is a sign CUs are in good position for growth in the next six months.

"Credit unions are more aligned with mainstream America's financial wants and needs than ever before," said the EVP of business development for Harland Financial Solutions. "Consequently, credit union performance continues to be an excellent indicator of consumer confidence and economic strength.

Hansen told Credit Union Journal there are four trends that are "tracking steadily" for the second half of 2013:

1. Loan growth on nearly all fronts, led by vehicle loans (both direct and indirect), mortgages, credit cards and business lending. "Stories of year-over-year Q1 growth in excess of 10% are increasingly common," he said.

2. Despite record low rates, deposits continue to grow. Hansen attributed the deposit inflows to consumer confidence in credit union financial stability, along with the appeal of CUs' low rates on loans, reasonable fees and convenience services, often technology driven. He said these factors have bolstered member growth and new account acquisition-generally from banks-but the price is being paid in his third trend to watch.

3. Deposits are still growing faster than loans, so loan-to-share ratios continue to languish. "Deposits are flowing in on their own accord," he said, "so, aggressive lending campaigns driven by the latest database and credit analytics is the key. Credit unions need to fire up the MCIF and get those offers out across all channels, including direct mail, e-mail and social media."

4. Delinquency rates should end 2013 at a five-year low. "This is the most telling indication of all that the canary is indeed alive and well," he said.

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