The FICO score has a long and well-established history as a key metric in the determination of credit-worthiness. The FICO score has the power to influence whether a person can experience significant life events, like the purchase of their first car or home. Currently, it’s a major factor in credit union loan analytics.
However, as we rapidly enter the age of Big Data and loan analytics, does the FICO score utilize enough information to make an accurate determination of a borrower’s ability to pay? The wealth of data available to credit unions should augment their loan analytics.
A New Age of Loan Analytics
As I consider the future of credit unions, I believe the industry’s position on the significance of the FICO score in their underwriting process is an important issue. Is FICO a major determining factor, or is it merely one of many data points that can be used to predict probability of default for a given loan?
The mission of the credit union movement is to improve the lives of their members. While this is a very altruistic and admirable goal, it is only possible if credit unions can effectively assess and manage their loan portfolio risk. Current loan analytics strategies privilege the credit union over the member. At the end of the day, credit unions have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the assets entrusted to them by their members.
Credit unions are faced with delicately balancing two diametrically-opposed objectives when serving their members:
- Being more compassionate than the big banks when it comes to lending.
- Being “prudent,” as defined by NCUA guidelines, in their lending practices. For any loan application that is being processed by a credit union, the decision comes down to the FICO score and the Loan to Value (LTV), which is no different than the big banks.
Is there a better way to balance for loan analytics? The answer is a resounding, “yes.” Big Data and analytics is the new frontier for the retail lending industry.
If Others are Doing It…
Credit unions have access to volumes of internal data and the means to access external data. However, they lack the infrastructure and the culture to perform the loan analytics needed to improve their underwriting processes.
Expanded loan analytics platforms may have eluded credit unions, but others are leveraging more complete information. Lending Clubs are entering the retail lending market with lots of data (which credit unions also have) and loan analytics (an area where credit unions are behind the curve).