The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on consumer spending habits, reducing debit and credit card transactions amid statewide lockdowns and other measures set up to reduce the spread of the virus.
For credit unions, one early impact was the “sudden and dramatic decline in non-interest income,” according to Washington, D.C.-based Callahan & Associates, the research, analytics and consulting firm.
Jay Johnson, chief collaboration officer at Callahan & Associates, said on the company’s latest strategy brief that the overriding industry-wide theme now is “uncertainty.” Non-interest income, he said, was among the areas that brought about immediate revenue challenges for credit unions.
“A lot of credit unions, as the pandemic started, put in fee waivers as a way to alleviate cash flows issues that members may have. Some of those are still in place. Some credit unions are saying, is it time to reconsider some of those?” Johnson said on the July 7 video briefing.
Credit unions, of course, have no control over interchange fees, which has been the biggest component of non-interest income, according to a Callahan & Associates survey of non-interest income. And fee waivers are “a wonderful example of how credit unions are tied to the mission of helping their members, but it does impact revenue,” Callahan & Associates told CU Times.
Last week, Callahan & Associates announced a new tool that lets credit unions analyze non-interest general ledgers using the company’s Peer-to-Peer software. Credit unions would be able to compare their non-interest income data to other credit unions.
“As we’ve been speaking to hundreds of credit union executives during the past few months one area that got significant attention was the current and impending impact on non-interest income,” Alix Patterson, chief experience officer at Callahan & Associates, said in a statement. “Even more troubling was the lack of data. We’re able to share anecdotal, but not comprehensive, experiences; CFOs told us they were looking for confirmation that others were seeing similar trends or if they were in some way unique.”
Quarterly call reports show non-interest fee income and other operating income. Those categories, Callahan & Associates said, are “broad and consist of many separate and important subcategories.” Non-interest income, compared to interest income, “is far more within the strategic control of a credit union,” Callahan & Associates told CU Times.
“Tracking these individual sub-streams is, in many ways, more enlightening than the totals provided by the 5300 call report,” Patterson said in the statement. “Compared to interest income, credit unions have more strategic control over their non-interest income streams.”
Patterson added: “By tracking these streams, credit unions can see exactly where their non-interest income is coming from, how their peers are managing these streams, and what can be done to improve overall revenue channels.”
The new data analysis tool will let credit unions assess 22 categories of non-interest income, including non-sufficient fund and overdraft fees; ATM and debit card fees, mortgage origination fees and interchange income.
“We’ve just started this data collection effort and are already seeing different business models emerging,” Patterson said. “We are excited to get mid-year (June) data from our hundreds of clients to identify more areas of opportunity for credit unions as they start to shift strategies and plan for 2021.”
Callahan & Associates said it was “well equipped” to confront the realities of the virus-era workplace impact on its operations. The company said it already had the technology in place allowing staff to work remotely.