PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Pittsburgh Teachers Federal Credit Union knew it had to update and modernize to survive. President and CEO Christine Chojnicki said the credit union has been around for 70 years. “We wanted to make sure the credit union was around for the next 70 years and if we didn’t take the steps we did that might not happen,” she said. The credit union had traditionally been very “plain vanilla,” just basic loans and savings; it did not even offer share certificates. Over time the capital grew to 29.25%. So, the credit union moved out of office space in its sponsor’s building and got its own digs, opened up membership to 27 new SEGs, and added two new branches, one via merger. “In the past few years, we have made a concerted effort to provide increased services to our members,” Chojnicki said. The credit union began beefing up its product and service offerings about seven years ago to include online banking, telebanking, and an ATM and has a deal with PNC Bank for members to have free access to the bank’s 3,500 ATMs. And, just this year, the credit union began offering first mortgages. Chojnicki also emphasized that some of the new staff they have brought on to implement these changes have been from the banking community and they have commented on the different culture and philosophy of the credit union from their previous employers. Another change Pittsburgh Teachers has implemented is personalized loan rates based on a borrower’s credit score rather than one flat rate for everyone, which has opened up funds to new borrowers. Chojnicki said the credit union has a goal to reach a 70-80% loan-to-share ratio. The current level is in the 50s. This new business philosophy has also helped the credit union increase its membership significantly since 1998, from 8,013 to 13,055 as of May. “We’re doing what’s financially best for the members and building relationships,” Chojnicki stated. While the credit union’s capital has gone up some since launching these new products and services, the board hopes to lower capital to 20-21% by the end of 2008. However, Chojnicki explained that the credit union uses its capital to be competitive and ensure growth and safety. “We try to be at or above market on our savings products and at or below market for loans,” she said.

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