Citing the new federal financial services regulations, one of Boston’s biggest credit unions has announced that it will merge into Chelsea’s growing Metro Credit Union – giving Metro an immediate growth in assets and a significant foothold in the Boston banking market.
University Credit Union (UCU), based on Commonwealth Avenue in the Back Bay, announced last week that it will merge its 9,000 members into Metro by April 30th.
UCU announced the merger in a letter that went out to members last week from President William Sinibaldi.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to announce that University Credit Union will form a strategic partnership with Metro Credit Union by way of a merger,” read the letter. “This decision is in response to the recent market forces and regulatory changes that have impacted the financial services industry…After considering several alternatives, we determined that a merger with Metro Credit Union is in the best interest of our members as it will provide a broader range of products services and convenience.”
Metro President/CEO Robert Cashman said that the merger would immediately benefit Metro and UCU.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for a strong partnership between Metro and University Credit Union,” he said. “Metro Credit Union will be expanding its membership base to the members of University Credit Union, as well as some of the hospitals and educational facilities that it currently is affiliated with.”
From its Parkway headquarters in Chelsea, Cashman told the Record that the move also gives Metro a bigger footprint for expansion in Boston.
Metro is making some significant upgrades to the UCU system and expanding it rather quickly.
He said Metro would keep a branch near Boston Medical Center, expanding its hours, and they would move the UCU headquarters from its current location on Commonwealth Avenue to a brand new, modern location just down the street.
“These two branches, along with another office on Massachusetts Avenue in the South Bay Shopping Center we’re planning to open in May, will give Metro three branches in Boston in a short period of time,” said Cashman. “It’s a big move for us and we’re beginning to have more of a presence in Boston. That’s great for us because many of our members already live and work in Boston.”
Employees of UCU will be brought into the Metro fold, so no jobs will be eliminated, but all UCU locations and ATMs will change over to the Metro name.
Likewise, he said the merger would be great for existing Metro members because it will immediately increase the credit union’s asset base.
“It’s a great opportunity for both of us to grow,” he said. “We’re just shy of $800 million in assets – as of today we are at $790 million – and University Credit Union has assets of $60 million. This gives us some substantial growth to our asset base. Much of our growth has taken place through acquisition and merger and this is an example of that…The strategy continuously is, of course, to grow ourselves organically, but also through merger and acquisition and we’ve done that well and it’s allowed us to grow out.”
And grow out they’ve done.
In the last few years, the Chelsea-based credit union has merged with numerous other credit unions – such as the United Auto Workers Credit Union, which gave Metro a foothold in Framingham and the Metro West area, and a merger with Commonwealth Credit Union, which allowed Metro to establish a branch on Broadway in Chelsea.
Metro has also recently merged with the Boston Globe Employees Credit Union, which brings them an added presence in Boston.
In an unrelated but notable change, Cashman said that Metro would move its existing Swampscott branch to busy Vinnin Square in Salem.
“That and all the rest of these changes will happen between April 30 and May 31,” he said. “There’s going to be a tremendous amount of activity for us in that month.”
Looking at it from a distance, Cashman said that Metro has been unique in its growth, especially at a time when many financial entities have struggled or closed down.
“You see it in the papers all the time, this bank or that financial institution closing down,” he said. “We’ve been very fortunate. I think many consumers are looking for another alternative. They’ve had enough with the large banks and fees associated with large banks. So, they’ve made the move to Metro.”
UCU was founded in 1952 to serve the financial needs of Boston University employees and Boston University Medical Center employees. It is the third largest credit union based in Boston, behind only the City of Boston and State of Massachusetts employee credit unions.
Metro was founded in Chelsea in 1926, and now boasts more than 120,000 members.