Although they offer many of the same services, credit unions operate in a fundamentally different way than banks, one based on the philosophy of “people helping people”. Credit unions were typically founded by friends, like neighbors, workers and people who worship together. Today, we’re featuring a credit union that got its start in Hackensack High School, which has now grown into a 19,000-member family that serves the entire surrounding area.
In 1937 five dedicated educators founded a credit union in Hackensack High School, established primarily for the purpose of serving teachers and their immediate families. One can only presume that at least one of the founders was a math or home economics teacher. From those humble beginnings sprang a tradition of more than 75 years of commitment to members, community, and service.
As it grew, membership was expanded to include a diverse mix of communities, employee groups, and associations in Bergen and Passaic Counties. Eventually the name was changed to reflect the broader membership, becoming Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union (GAFCU).
But despite its growth and expansion, one thing never changed – GAFCU has stayed true to its family-focused roots. The credit union itself is a family, and this may be one of the reasons for their enviable record of employee retention. Almost half (around 43%) of their employees have been with the credit union for 10 years or more, and more than two-thirds have been there for at least five years or more. The credit union has had only three CEOs since the 30’s—an unbelievable rarity in the financial services industry.
Its current CEO, Glenn Guinto, also has deep roots in the Greater Alliance family, having begun his career there as a part-time teller. His assistant, Antonietta “Tony” Tartaglione, has worked at the credit union for over 30 years, starting when she was in high school in 1978, when there were only two other employees other than herself.
“Our employee tenure is what makes us an institution in the truest sense of the word,” says Guinto. “Our members have been with us for many generations and we can attribute our tenure as one of the main reasons that we’ve developed their trust in us.”
In his free time, Guinto still enjoys visiting the credit union’s branch lobbies and saying hello to members that he used to wait on as a teller. “I enjoy talking to our members—and sometimes their children. Most of them still remember when I was waiting on them from over the counter,” adds Guinto.
From those five educators in 1937, Greater Alliance has grown into a community credit union, owned by its over 19,000 members. If you live, work, worship, go to school in, or if you belong to a business or any legal entity within Bergen or Passaic County, you are invited to join the rest of the family at Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union.
At a credit union, you’re much more than just a customer. For more information on Greater Alliance FCU, including how to join, visit www.greateralliance.org or find a credit union near you at www.BankingYouCanTrust.com.