LYNNWOOD, Wash., September 28, 2022 – Seattle Credit Union celebrated its ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, September 23, commemorating its Lynnwood branch opening for the not-for-profit financial cooperative.
In addition to moving 1.5 miles down 196th Street Southwest, the Lynnwood location has undergone a few changes – namely removing its traditional teller line. Instead, the branch is taking a more personal approach with comfortable seating to facilitate conversations between members and staff, returning to its philosophy of forming relationships first.
“We try to focus on helping people, going beyond the transaction,” Richard Romero, President and CEO of Seattle Credit Union told the Lynnwood Times. “Let’s say you need a mortgage. Let’s say you have bad credit and you need to sit down and talk to someone. That’s what we want our staff to really focus on because that’s what takes time and a lot of investment.”
Many of the traditional, over-the-counter, teller functions are still available to members through ATM’s, mobile banking, and a state-of-the-art Interactive Teller Machines (ITM) which cashes checks, makes loan payments, deposits and withdrawals cash, transfers money, and more. The ITM also allows members to speak with a live, local, teller through a video call to still have that personal, face-to-face, experience.
Romero informed the Lynnwood Times the goal is to free tellers up from over-the-counter transactions to sit down with members and really get to know them, and their needs, personally. If a member with bad credit needs a car or house loan, for example, they may be declined by several banks solely based on their score alone; but at Seattle Credit Union tellers will sit down with loan applicants to take the time to understand why their credit is bad.
“Maybe they had a car accident or have medical bills. We’re going to take a look at their credit. We’re going to try to understand. OK, look, that was an anomaly. Let’s give them a chance and give them a call. It takes time to sit down and get to know the person versus, you know, run your credit, sorry, you’re declined and out the door,” Romero said.
A typical experience of someone walking through the doors of Seattle Credit Union’s Lynnwood branch is firstly being greeted by a smiling employee who will try to understand what the member’s needs are and what brought them in. Then the employee will try and find a time when they can sit with a teller to discuss these needs, Dale Morris, AVP Retail Operations for Seattle Credit Union, informed the Lynnwood Times.
“Something like a withdrawal or deposit is a pretty quick and easy transaction. What we’re looking for is to render more assistance to our members for their deeper needs,” Morris said.
The Lynnwood location is one of ten Seattle Credit Union branches in the state and the only branch within Snohomish County. However, members can carry out their banking operations at more than 5,000 credit union branches as part of the Shared-Branching network, or use one of the 30,000 surcharge-free ATM’s through the Co-Op or Accel networks.
While the Seattle Credit Union has been helping its members with their personal financial needs for the past 89 years, they also strive to be a community partner with small, local, businesses and a voice for the underprivileged.
“My heart is with small businesses. I’ve been self-employed as an accountant for over 40-years and you see the challenges of small businesses. To see an organization like this who is geared toward small businesses, and know the challenges, it’s great that they’re in my neighborhood,” Mayor Christine Frizzell told the Lynnwood Times.
Seattle Credit Union has over 52 community partners throughout Washington State. With a commitment to supporting its community through volunteering, providing free educational workshops, partnering with local non-profits, and creating products built to help those who have traditionally been underserved by their financial system.
Notably, the credit union has partnered with the City of Seattle to help finance immigrants’ paths to U.S. citizenship, as a Juntos Avanzamos credit union that provides trusted financial services to the local Latino community. The credit union has also donated over $233,838 to local non-profits through its Feel Good Checking Program.
Seattle Credit Union began in 1933 when seven City of Seattle employees pooled their resources to allow each other, and their co-workers, an opportunity to take loans out they couldn’t get from the banks.
“Our members are the reason we exist. Our number one job is to make sure that they are able to borrow money, grow their savings, and take advantage of special benefits as they travel on their journey toward prosperity, however they choose to define it,” their mission statement states.
“We are proud to have been founded in Seattle and to have grown up with the city that created us. We’ve been here for nearly a century, and we look forward to providing the people of this amazing region the financial knowledge and tools they need to continue to unite the communities of the Puget Sound into the world-class destination Seattle has become.”
The Lynnwood Seattle Credit Union is located at 19718 Highway 99, Suite 101, and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed on Sundays.