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NEW YORK – To reach 90-years old is no small feat. Any person that’s reached that milestone can vouch for the many hallmarks in their personal history they hit along the way. The same is true for financial institutions, and New York’s Municipal Credit Union, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, can certainly attest to that. While most people involved with the credit union industry are familiar with the $1.3 billion in assets, 310,000-member Municipal Credit Union, few are probably aware of the CU’s interesting and humble beginnings. Or the fact that MCU has operated during the administrations of 16 U.S. presidents, 14 New York State governors, and 15 New York City mayors. What began as an outgrowth of concern felt in 1916 by then-New York City Mayor John Purroy Mitchel and New York City Chamberlain Henry Bruere for city employees to have an alternative to loan sharks and a better way to manage their finances, has evolved into one of the state’s largest CUs and among the largest in the U.S. MCU was originally chartered with the lengthy name Credit Union of the Employees’ Conference Committee, City of New York-the name was changed to Municipal Credit Union in 1919- with 19 members and share capital totaling $570. The credit union’s first member was John Greener, an attorney of note in the city’s law department who went on to serve as board secretary for five years and then as president from 1922-1929. Operating out of the chief clerk’s office of the city’s corporation counsel on the 16th floor of the Municipal Building in Manhattan, the credit union’s first two recorded loans, both made in Jan. 1917, were each for $300. By the end of the year, the credit union’s share balance was up to more than $20,000, and it had 600 members. William Porter has been CEO of MCU for the past 26 years and been president as well for about the last 16 years-he’s announced his retirement for Dec. 2007-and he’s witnessed first-hand a lot of the changes the credit union has gone through during that time. Indeed, just the fact that Porter was offered the leadership position at MCU marked a turning point in the credit union’s history. In the six years leading up to Porter’s hiring, MCU was under the direct supervision of the state banking department because of operational problems caused by a fiscal crisis in the city. During those 72 months, then-New York Superintendent of Banks Eugene Lamb Richards had officers from other banking institutions in the city working at the credit union on loan to keep it open and running. At the time, Porter was working in the retail banking area at Citibank as vice president of consumer lending when he was approached by one of the bank’s officers who was working at MCU and let Porter know the CU was looking to hire a permanent CEO. After he interviewed for the position with the state banking superintendent, it took Porter another six months to make his decision and be hired by the State Banking Department. The rest is MCU’s history. Porter recalled when he first took over his first priority was to “get the credit union straightened out operationally, including looking at staffing and products and service needs and ways to generate income to boost the bottom line.” Plain Vanilla to Multi-Product CU At the time, MCU was only offering unsecured installment loans, auto loans and share accounts and was operating out of a single branch. The credit union had nearly 138,000 members, $89.9 million in shares and its loan portfolio was more than $61 million. In 1982, the credit union began offering share draft accounts. After that, MCU’s menu of products and services began expanding quickly. In 1983 it began offering IRAs and opened two branches. The following year, it contracted with the insurance company PFP to provide life insurance for members, it opened a loan center in its Brooklyn branch and joined the NYCE ATM network. Before the decade was over, MCU also was offering members a Visa card, a touch-tone teller system and opened two more branches. In addition, MCU saw its first merger. In April 1986, HYFIN CU was merged into MCU. It also held its first board elections in 1984, and every year since then MCU has held a normal annual meeting including the election of its board and supervisory committee. The 1990s were just as active for MCU. In addition to seeing two more credit unions merged into it-NYACK Hospital Employees FCU and Brooklyn Postal Employees CU-Muncipal CU continued to expand its products and services with things like youth accounts, installing its first proprietary ATM, introducing a 24-hour automated loan-by-phone system, going online with AFTECH’s data processing system, and launching its Web site (www.nymcu.org). It also continued to expand its branch network with the addition of four new branches in the various five boroughs bringing MCU’s total full service branches to nine. After coming off of two decades of steady progress and hitting its strategic goals, Municipal CU started the new millennium gung ho. By October 2000 it had established its e-commerce department and in May 2001 introduced MCU Online PC-based home banking. However, like the rest of the country, it hadn’t anticipated 9/11. Fortunately, none of the credit union’s employees were hurt in the attack. But being located across the street from the World Trade Center, the staff was left with psychological injuries they had to deal with. And the credit union had to deal with the loss of its entire operating system. Porter said the most important thing was for Municipal’s members to have contact with the CU’s call center and access to their ATM funds through the NYCE network. To Municipal’s credit, it rebuilt its operating system in about four weeks and had its call center up and running by November. The disaster also prompted Municipal CU to develop a high-tech disaster recovery system in New Jersey that duplicates the credit union’s entire MIS department. “If we ever go down in the city again like what happened on 9/11, we’ll just flip up and be live and running real-time within minutes,” said Porter. Looking ahead, Municipal’s president/CEO said the focus is on cultivating and soliciting members within the CU’s existing field of membership. “There’s still tremendous growth potential in that field-of-membership,” he said, adding the CU has no plans to expand its FOM. “The people who take care of this town are our members. Our charter requires any civil service worker who’s a member of the credit union must have a link to New York City. Our field-of-membership allows us to maintain our link with them and the city,” said Porter. Of course, an increased membership will mean increased assets for Municipal. The CU currently has $1.5 million in accounts with its existing membership. As Municipal’s membership increases, “we can double those accounts and our deposit base will grow accordingly,” he said. “Somewhere down the line,” Porter said Municipal will have to begin offering investment services because “there are certain segments in the civil service arena where investment services are important, so that will become an important part of our offerings.” “We don’t want to be all things to everyone, but there are certain niches we need to be involved in,” Porter added. As the 70-year old Porter gets ready to retire, he has no disappointments with how things have gone at Municipal CU. “I’m a happy camper,” he admitted. “The staff has done a remarkable job bringing the credit union to where it is. They’ve created a happy membership, it’s a testament to how the credit union has met their needs,” said Porter. – [email protected]

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