Consumer Behavior And Non-Interest Income
November 5, 2009
Last week, we identified some of the many threats to earnings. With regard to non-interest income, potential changes in regulation were identified to be a major threat. Building on that, here we would like to suggest changes in consumer (i.e., member) behavior as an additional threat to non-interest income. In these trying times, consumer behavior has evolved and people are spending less and saving more. Both of these actions sound like responsible things for consumers to be doing (and they are), but for your credit union, they likely translate into lower earnings. Many places we are working with are reporting decreases in both interchange income and overdraft (or courtesy pay) fees. Members are also working hard to deleverage themselves, leading to lower loan volumes and fewer late payment fees. Whether these are short- or long-term behavioral changes is a topic for debate, but, for the present, credit unions are feeling the impact.
If you aren’t already, make sure you begin to analyze the sources of your income inside and out. Do not merely look at your level of non-interest income as a whole, but understand the components of it and how they are changing. Many credit unions are seeing higher overall levels of non-interest income due to extraordinary mortgage originations. This extra income may be hiding declines in other areas, or increases in operating expense. While higher-than-normal levels of origination income may be helping your earnings today, they most likely are a short-term source of extra income. Sooner or later, interest rates will rise (no predictions here!) and/or the refinance boom will end and mortgage volumes will fall.