February 3rd, 2012

Richard Romero is SMCU’s New CEO

Richard Romero - CEO Seattle Metropolitan Credit UnionAfter a nationwide search, the Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union Board of Directors is pleased to announce the selection of Richard Romero as the Credit Union’s new Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Romero will become just the fourth CEO in SMCU’s 79-year history.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management from the University of La Verne in Los Angeles County, California. He is also fluent in Spanish.

Romero is expected to start his duties as CEO in mid-February.

We got a chance to chat with him about why he chose SMCU and what he sees on the horizon.

“I knew (SMCU) was the right place for me. My first impression of SMCU was that of a progressive credit union with deep roots in the community and a strong vision for the future. I saw a close relationship between the 7 Principles and my management style and beliefs. I’m a strong believer in the cooperative model and I wanted to make sure I would land somewhere that shared the same philosophies.

We also like a family-friendly city that offers activities for both adults and children. Having worked in Seattle on and off, I was familiar with the city and was excited to return.”

Romero has over 24 years of financial services experience having started in the financial services industry in 1988 as a part-time teller at Great Western Bank. Most recently he was the Chief Operations Officer at $820MM Los Angeles Firemen’s Credit Union (LAFCU) from 2004 to 2012. As LAFCU’s COO he led teams responsible for consumer lending, member services, operations, call center, facilities, real estate and business services, commercial lending and information technology.

He sees a strong similarity between SMCU and LAFCU.

“From a philosophical perspective, LA Firemen’s CU has a strong sense of responsibility towards its membership and stays true to the core philosophy of credit unions. Both LAFCU and SMCU are great examples of the true cooperative model. Both have roots in serving municipal employees and both are very active within their communities.”

For the last 12 years, Romero has worked in the credit union world having been hired as the Director of Branches at Telesis Community Credit Union in 2000. He admitted that he didn’t really appreciate the difference between credit unions and banks until he made the switch.

“I’ll be honest, I was recruited by a former colleague, and at the time I had no idea what a credit union was. I didn’t really get it until I did some research and better understood the cooperative model. After talking to some colleagues that had landed in credit unions, I found that their basic philosophy of serving members had a close relationship to what I was used to. I was eager to get back to the basics of serving people versus hard selling and profit at any expense.”

He was subsequently promoted to Vice President at Telesis and took that experience to LAFCU in 2004. He believes that having a wide range of experience will help him lead SMCU.

“I spent the first part of my career in the branch network, working the front lines with customers, and built a strong foundation for customer service. As I transitioned into the credit union world and moved up in my career, I began to build a strong administrative background as well as very strong leadership skills. My recent experience with the Los Angeles real estate and economic markets has prepared me to deal with the unexpected and extreme. This along with a strong background in retail banking, lending and technology make me feel well prepared to lead the team at SMCU.”

Romero understands that the job won’t be easy. The new realities of the financial world have changed the landscape for everyone.

“Economic pressures, both seen and unseen, will challenge all financial institutions. On top of economic pressures, regulatory changes that are sometimes well intentioned but not always thoroughly thought through will also present challenges. Add those to increased competition for wallet share by all financial institutions and everyone will be forced to perform at a higher level while keeping expenses under control.”

Even with these challenges, he feels that SMCU is in a prime position for growth and is ready to make a difference.

“I believe that now is the time for cooperatives, such as credit unions, to really stand out and become part of the solution. Serving the underserved and looking for opportunities to provide services that are affordable, fair and competitive is what the public needs and SMCU is primed to deliver.”

SMCU is excited to bring Mr. Romero onboard, and we wish him a long and successful career with Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union.

Read the official press release

One Response

  1. Henry Garcia says:

    I hope that he would turn out to be a better choice for this firm. Seems like that!