Romero Tabbed as New President/CEO at SMCU

Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union (SMCU) announced this week that Richard Romero, currently the Chief Operations Officer of Los Angeles Firemen’s Credit Union (LAFCU), will take over as SMCU’s fourth president and CEO since being founded in 1933, replacing Bob Harvey, who retired in July 2011.

“I knew (SMCU) was the right place for me,” Romero said. “I saw a close relationship between the Seven 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.

Romero boasts more than 24 years of experience in various sectors of the financial services industry, having started as a part-time teller at Great Western Bank in 1988. He transitioned to the credit union movement in 2000 when he accepted a position as director of branches at Telesis Community Credit Union in Los Angeles.

During his tenure at LAFCU, which began in 2004, Romero led teams with responsibilities ranging from consumer and commercial lending to member services, operations, call center, facilities, real estate and business services, and information technology.

SMCU Board Chair Jim Yearby said in an email that Romero’s initial priorities would be “assessing our current state of affairs in a very broad sense, building a network of support in the CEO community, building awareness of the political issues, building a strong relationship with staff (especially the senior leadership team), incorporating new ideas and creativity to the office and building a strong relationship with the board, among other things.”

Looking at the bigger picture, Romero indicated that he sees an opportunity in the current climate for credit unions to play a more prominent role.

“I believe that now is the time for cooperatives, such as credit unions, to really stand out and become part of the solution,” Romero said. “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.”

Romero’s predecessor spent 19 years at SMCU’s helm. Harvey was a former chairman of the Washington Credit Union League and also served as board chair of WesCorp and the African American Credit Union Coalition, as well as a council director for the Credit Union Executive Society (CUES) and a lecturer for the California Credit Union League and Credit Union National Association.

In finding Harvey’s replacement, Yearby said that SMCU sought a versatile leader, someone with tangible experience in operations, lending, mergers and acquisitions, and strategic planning, as well as more intangible qualities, such as the ability to collaborate, build relationships and be “a match for SMCU culture.”

“Our board is confident that Richard is the right person to accomplish all of the above and more,” Yearby said.


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