Credit union margins are falling, but you can still come through for your members

According to a recent Credit Union Times article, there were significant downward trends in the first quarter of this year due to changes in lending portfolios. These major reversals included:

  • The growth rate for loans doubled, while the growth rate for savings was half the rate of a year ago
  • Loan originations for real estate were flat, while other loans rose 11 percent
  • Net interest margins, which had been falling in 2020, were unchanged from a year ago.

If this describes your institution, you’re most likely considering not only how this effects your company, but how it will affect your members. One of the most important reasons members join a credit union, and what sets credit unions apart, is that profits made by credit unions are returned back to members in the form of reduced fees, higher savings rates and lower loan rates.

What happens when those profits are greatly reduced or disappear? It’ll be harder for you to offer members the benefits they expect at a time when they need it most… and it will be harder for you to stay afloat.

But all is not lost. You may be surprised to learn that you probably have thousands, even millions, of dollars hidden in your credit union’s operations that, if you were able to access it, could be used to offset downward trend losses. To find this cash you need to look no further than your vendor management program.

Stop running vendor management as an expense and transform it into an expense reduction program. You’ll find yourself with cash you never knew existed. That may sound easier said then done. And it would be, if you’ve never run your vendor management program any other way then you do now. That’s why we’re here to help. Maple Street has helped hundreds of credit unions save over $235 million and counting.  We’re experts in knowing how vendors can pull the wool over your eyes in ways you can’t even imagine.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Are you paying fair market rates for services? If you don’t know, we do. Maple Street experts know the current rates for services, so you don’t pay a penny more than you should.

Are you a DIY negotiator? Our professionals know how to put the squeeze on vendors to get you the best rates and terms possible. Do it yourself, and you could be leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table.

Is your vendor contract in your favor? We know where the vendor has hidden fees and traps in your contract, including rollovers with built-in increases that can drain you of cash for the life of the contract.

Is your vendor qualified for next level services? Did you consider if your vendor has the bandwidth to update or install new services? Unfortunately, you’re stuck with them for the life of the contract, but you still need to hire a qualified vendor. Nothing wastes money faster than paying twice for the same service.

How many times has your vendor’s service gone down, and how long did it take to fix the problem? For example, your contract may not define who pays to fix your mobile banking if it goes down, or how long the vendor has to fix it.

If you can’t recognize where you’re wasting money, you’re not going to be able to change course. You may be forced to increase fees, drop down savings rates and raise loan rates.

Maple Street and our Vendor Advantage System® will help you find needed cash within your vendor program. Don’t wait for things to get worse. Call 800-513-6839, email or visit

Background for this article was provided by Credit Union Times reporting on falling margins.