BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-Dennis Dollar expects many strategic planning sessions this fall will be examining forecasts related to the entire asset/liability mix due to the potential for rising rates.

"I think we will see more strategic goals about reshaping the balance between mortgages and consumer lending," said Dollar, principal partner at Dollar Associates. "We have gone through a five-year period of heavy mortgage activity during which credit unions' national share has risen to 6% from 2%. Rising rates will lead to far less refis and mortgage lending overall, so credit unions will look more to consumer lending."

Dollar says the shift in lending focus is not only healthy, but also plays into CUs' strengths, saying they have better risk-based pricing models in place with consumer lending than with mortgages.

Other key planning topics, according to Dollar include:

* Economic overview. Each session must have some type of educational component that provides an overlay of the environment in which decisions are being based.

* Checking accounts. Growing checking accounts is a tactic that will play large roles inside many strategic objectives, as this drives a great deal of fee income through overdrafts and non-interest income via debit swipes.

* CUSO investment opportunities. More CUs see this avenue as a solid means to generate non-interest income.

* Expanding business services. Much of CUs' focus has been on MBL, but business services beyond loans/lines of credit are catching steam.

* Branching. Discussions should not be tactical, such as where to place a branch. Instead they should focus on issues such as how many branches will be needed during the next five years.

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