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Impending Credit Crisis
How Banks and Credit Unions Must Prepare
By Steve Cocheo, Executive Editor at The Financial Brand
The COVID Slump is a very different recession. In some ways, it’s nobody’s fault. But an Accenture expert says that a careful balance is needed from lenders because it is possible for even a well-intentioned move to make the situation far worse. A key suggestion: Avoid any credit policy that looks like a ‘blunt instrument.’
The challenges of the COVID-19 recession for lenders have not yet begun to bite in earnest, but banks and credit unions are going to start feeling it soon, according to an expert from Accenture.
The impact on credit of all kinds is going to be felt in different ways depending on the makeup of each financial institution’s portfolio and on the demographics of their consumer and small business borrowers. But as the summer of 2020 moved into fall, the Novocain was wearing off on the recession pain as certain credit relief efforts tailed off and as the impact of multiple stimulus programs ended.
Now lenders will begin feeling a nonperforming loan crisis that will differ from anything seen by most people in the industry today, with the exception perhaps of the oldest credit veterans. This recession’s impact on credit isn’t something that can be blamed on greed, bad credit modeling, overly aggressive marketing, the madness of crowds nor any of the villains of most crunches in memory. Shutdowns introduced to avert the spread of coronavirus slammed the emergency brake on a economy that still pointed to prosperity.
This overall view of where financial institutions stand comes from a report by Accenture and other sources. Chris Scislowicz, Managing Director of Accenture’s financial services practice, and Head of North American credit practice, told The Financial Brand that many lenders, with the exception of the very largest, are only now beginning to get a handle on where they stand on the credit side and what is likely to come.
Lenders Are in the Calm Before the Credit Storm
“The looming nonperforming loan crisis is going to manifest itself differently across consumer segments, across industry segments,” says Scislowicz. “It’s going to affect consumers, homeowners, small business owners and large companies.”
“The looming nonperforming loan crisis is going to manifest itself differently across consumer segments, across industry segments. It’s going to affect consumers, homeowners, small business owners and large companies.”
— Chris Scislowicz, Accenture
An Accenture report, “How Banks Can Prepare for the Looming Credit Crisis,” states that “We are in the calm before the storm, the moment in which payment holidays are not flowing through into consumer credit scores and where underlying business health is being masked by furlough and payroll protection schemes.”
That calm is ending, according to Scislowicz, and many financial institutions are figuring out where they stand. He explains that the drain of the Paycheck Protection Program and forbearance programs on lenders’ attentions and energies cannot be overestimated. In many organizations each stage of the PPP, the Main Street programs and more combined to divert staff and time away from more analytical tasks due to the nature of the health and economic emergency.
“The implications for the industry were pretty profound,” says Scislowicz, “in terms of pulling people off the line. But now the folks with key responsibility for portfolios are starting to take a hard look at things. They are asking, now that programs are winding down, what it means for their books of business.” While issues have already surfaced in commercial lending, that will be expanded as consumer credit forbearance begins to go away.
Here’s what to watch for: “I think the August numbers will give us a sense of what we might expect for the rest of the year,” says Komos. “That’s my preliminary assumption.”