Former Banking Exec Finds Himself at Home in the Credit Union Community
NEW YORK -- Since making the switch from the banking industry to Municipal Credit Union, Kam Wong has pushed the credit union toward growth and innovation and deeper into the community.
Wong started his career in accounting positions at Banco do Brasil and Chase Manhattan Bank before coming to Municipal as chief financial officer in 1988. In 2006 Wong was promoted to president of the credit union, and in March 2007 he took on the role of CEO as well.
"Banks are oriented to their bottom line and must satisfy their shareholders," Wong said as to why he made the change from working at a bank to a credit union. "Credit unions care about their members. Unlike the banking industry, credit unions can only raise their equity by working hard on the bottom line, where as banks can issue stocks and increase their equity position."
When Wong started at Municipal it had 100 employees and $90 million in assets. The credit union now has 16 branches, 600 employees and assets that exceed $1.3 billion. Since Wong took on the role of president, Municipal has opened a full-service branch, two express branches and two ATM facilities.
"After becoming chief financial officer in 1988, I, in conjunction with the former CEO and management team, implemented a growth strategy for Municipal," Wong said. "The credit union was then at a crossroads and needed direction. We have enjoyed steady and controlled asset and member growth since. I am very proud that our strategy and master plan have served the credit union so well, including our record year in 2007."
Wong also helped the credit union develop what it calls MCU Express, a banking concept that combines in-person one-on-one consultation and electronic banking.
"MCU Express is a mix of conventional, personal service and state of the art technology," Wong explained. "Instead of traditional tellers, we have customer service representatives who are able to interact with our members one-on-one about their needs. With MCU Express, we create awareness of Municipal and have the opportunity to provide more service to more members. MCU Express allows us to have more touch points for our members in their community in an efficient and cost effective manner."
During times where many credit unions are struggling with stale member growth, Wong said Municipal attracts approximately 2,000 members monthly.
"We actively cultivate and strengthen our relationship with our members. We listen to our members' wants and offer appropriate products and services. We also remind them that membership extends to their family."
A large part of Municipal Credit Union's membership are the civil servants of New York City. Since taking on the role of president/CEO, Wong started the MCU Municipal Sports Series. The program is a series of sports events the credit union sponsors where different uniformed services compete. The events benefit supporting charities.
"We consider the MCU Municipal Sports Series to be an important new part of Municipal. We really take the credit union motto of 'people helping people' to heart," Wong said. "We are not just our members' financial institution, providing financial services, but we are also a part of their community. We want to demonstrate this in a lasting and meaningful way. Our participation in these events gives us an opportunity to support the community and charities that our members value. We are very proud to use these occasions to support police and fire fighters' charities."
The sports series includes the FDNY/NYPD hockey game at Nassau Coliseum, the NYPD/FDNY baseball game at Keyspan Park during the summer and the FDNY/NYPD football game.
This past April, Wong was recognized for the work he has done at Municipal to give back to the civil service community. Wong was the first non-civil servant and Asian-American to be honored with the civil service leadership award by the National Council of Columbia Associations in Civil Service. Wong was also awarded a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the Detectives Endowment Association of the New York City Police Department and Councilman Anthony Avella.
"Receiving the award was humbling and exciting at the same time. I have worked hard behind the scenes for many years," Wong said. "And it was gratifying to be recognized, especially with my staff and family present."