FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (4/13/11)--Several credit union CEOs in Texas say they concur with the latest Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence, according to the Texas Credit Union League. Last week the board said the CEO confidence measure, which "bounced back" in the final quarter of 2010, also improved in the first quarter of 2011. The measure read 67, up from 62 in the last quarter. A reading of 50 or above indicates more positive than negative responses. The league said several credit union CEOs weighed in on the report. Bob Peterson, president/ CEO of El Paso-based One Source FCU, said he is not only optimistic about current and future economic conditions, but his expectations for the credit union are also positive. El Paso was in a unique position during the economic downturn, he said. The local economy, while challenged, probably was less impacted by global conditions than other areas. One Source FCU saw an increase in bankruptcies, heightened delinquencies and charge-offs, and some members were under high financial stress. However, the economy is "indeed turning positive" and the credit union's core membership "has remained highly loyal to One Source as their institution of choice," Peterson told the league. Also, the past two to three years of challenges have seen credit unions emerging "as the financial partner of choice for countless more consumers in the economy," he added (LoneStar Leaguer
April 8). Angie Owens, president/CEO of American Airlines FCU, Fort Worth, said its Trade, Industry , Profession (TIP) charter allows it to serve employees of companies supporting the air transportation industry--not just the airlines. The industry as a whole is a vital part of the U.S. economy "so we continue to grow membership and believe we will continue at a steady pace" in the industry, she told the Texas league (LoneStar Leaguer
April 11). Owens said she is confident the economy will continue to improve "although slowly. We have maintained a strong balance sheet through the difficult times and do not see that changing either." James Boyd, president/CEO of Abilene Teachers FCU, has always been confident about his credit union's future, he said. It has hired 26 employees since last August, bringing its staff to 108, and opened its new 33,000-square-foot main office in February. "Funds continue to roll in our door putting us over $300 million in assets. Loan demand is lagging that cash influx, but still positive," he reported to the league. Abilene is on the fringe of the main oil activity in West Texas so the local economy is less volatile than the Midland/Odessa area. "Oil prices continue to climb, and that's good for this part of the country," he said (LoneStar Leaguer
April 11). The Conference Board survey was conducted between mid-February and mid-March. Among its findings:
* Nearly 61% of CEOs surveyed said current conditions within their industries have improved, up from 55% who said so last quarter; * For short-term outlook, 66% expect an improvement in economic conditions during the next six months, up from 56% last quarter; * The outlook for their own industries were slightly less optimistic--49% of the CEOs expected their industries to improve, down from 51% last quarter; and * Half expect an increase in employment levels in their industry, up from 30% a year ago. Those who expect a decrease in hiring declined to 16% from 22% last year.