The economic situation has not curbed Barbadians’ appetite for credit union loans.
Two of the island’s largest credit unions are reporting rises in demand for loans this year when compared to 2015, as well as an increase in membership.
Chief Executive Officer of the City of Bridgetown Cooperative Credit Union (COB) Steve Belle told Barbados TODAY the COB had witnessed an uptick in the demand for loans throughout this year.
Belle added that the credit union’s membership grew to almost 57,500 at the end of its financial year which ended on March 31.
“We continue to see growth in all areas – loans, deposits, surplus. Our year-end is also March 31 and up to the end of November we have basically nearly doubled our net surplus and we are growing a very reasonable rate, cognizant of what is happening in the economy, relative to loans and savings,” Belle said.
“We are extremely happy with our results thus far and we expect to have very sound results come March 31, 2017,” he added, though opting not to reveal details.
Belle said COB continued to work closely with members to ensure its delinquency rate was kept below the industry rate of around nine per cent, adding that the financial institution was aware of the negative impact the slow growth in the economy was having on members.
However, while he was optimistic about 2017, Belle said the performance of the loans portfolio would hinge on the confidence of residents. This, he said, was dependent on a number of economic activities coming on stream place.
“We are hoping that a lot of the measures that the Government say they would put in place actually comes on board to put a boost in the economy because a lot of what we do depend on the confidence of people, and if people’s confidence is waning or is not improving you will find that you have a difficulty in convincing them to take out loans,” he said.
The institution’s March 2016 report reveals a 9.5 per cent or $24.5 million increase in deposits, while net loans went up 4.7 per cent or $14 million for the period 2015/2016.
Net surplus was projected to grow by at least 20 per cent for the reporting period.
Meantime, Credit Manager at the Barbados Workers Union Cooperative Credit Union Ltd (BWUCCU) Cheryl-Ann Vaughan shared a similar story.
Also not giving details, Vaughan told Barbados TODAY the BWUCCU was witnessing an increase in the demand for loans throughout the year and it was significantly higher this time of year.
“At the Barbados Workers Union Credit Union we were able to hold our own as far as the loans are concerned. We are above plan
. . . . So far we are doing pretty good,” Vaughan said.
“I would say there was an increase; especially in our promotion right now for Christmas loans, we have seen an increase.”
The primary reason for loan applications was for debt consolidation, she disclosed.
Vaughan said her institution, which has a membership of over 19,500, has also been able to attract more members throughout the year, while maintaining a low delinquency rate.
“Our delinquency is below six per cent. So right now we are doing relatively well,” she stressed.
Looking forward to next year, the credit union official told Barbados TODAY the BWUCCU would continue to focus on growing its membership.
She said while the economic conditions would help to determine the outcomes the credit union remained flexible.
“We are flexible so when members come we would be in a position to assist wherever possible. But the economy for sure will have an impact on our performance here,” Vaughan explained.
The BWUCCU recorded an increase of six per cent in membership during the 2015/2016 reporting period, which ended March 31 this year, as well as a 17 per cent increase in member deposits and 11 per cent growth in loans portfolio.