Name: Patrick M. McPharlin
Credit Union: Michigan State University FCU (LN)
Asset size: $1.2 billion
CEO Since: 2000
First Employed in CU Movement: 1973
“I’ve done everything at the credit union, but they never let me touch actual cash,” jokes Michigan State University FCU (LN) President/CEO Patrick McPharlin. “Collections, loans, ATM supervisor, you name it and I’ve done it.”
McPharlin has been CEO at MSU FCU for a little more than five years, and although it’s one of the largest credit unions in the state, he quickly points out that it isn’t the bottom line that has kept him in credit unions for 32 years. “I’ve been with credit unions for all these years because of the people,” he says. “I really enjoy and get satisfaction from being able to help people financially and maybe making that loan — the one that makes a difference.
“Not too long ago, I ran into a lady at a fund-raiser. We did a loan for her 27 years ago so she could have things for her new baby. She has been a loyal and happy member and has been with us ever since. It’s that kind of story that makes a difference.”
McPharlin is a native of Redford Twp., a suburb of Detroit. A graduate of Redford Union High School, he attended Michigan State University and received his B.S. in social science in 1969. He also holds a Master’s of Management degree from Aquinas College.
After briefly working in insurance and at Lansing Automakers CU (LN), he moved to Michigan State University FCU in 1973.
McPharlin says he feels very strongly about the role credit unions, and businesses in general, have in their communities. All have an obligation to give back to the community they serve, whether that community is on a local or national scale, he says.
“I guess all of us in America are a community and we should help those that are most needy,” McPharlin says. “The question isn’t should we give back, but what resources do you apply to what cause?”
He is active in the Lansing area, participating with organizations such as the Lansing Area Community United Way, the MSU Museum Development Board, the MSUAA National Alumni Board, Capital Area March of Dimes and the College of Social Science Board.
McPharlin sees the key to his credit union’s success as its ability to balance reinvesting in the community with providing excellent service to the membership. “Our primary obligation is to our members,” he says, “and one of our greatest challenges as a billion-dollar-plus credit union is to treat members that call or come into the office with small credit unions friendliness — remembering their names and treating them with respect. That’s what we strive to do every day.”
Like many people throughout the country, McPharlin was especially moved by the tragic events that unfolded when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. “I was watching television with my wife and we saw the devastation and the effect it had on people’s lives,” he says. “We were both just thinking how we need to do something to help.
“The next day I came to work, and to no surprise I had many e-mails and phone calls from our staff saying how they wanted to do something. Our staff does all kinds of fund-raisers to help many organizations every year — sometimes every month.”
Raising funds for the hurricane victims proved to be a tricky task, as the credit union was in the middle of a campaign raising money for The United Way. “We didn’t want to take money from The United Way because the needs of the people they support are ongoing, and a lot of the home-lessness that we were seeing on TV takes place right here everyday,” McPharlin said.
“So we added an additional dress-down day fund-raiser and I offered to match the first $1,000, partly because I thought it would encourage our staff to participate, but mainly because I felt it was the right thing to do.”
When away from the credit union, McPharlin likes to spend time with his wife, Vicki, four sons and on occasion his two “perfect” grandchildren. “Vicki and I make it a point to do things with our family as much as possible,” he says. “Not too long ago we met in Illinois to spend a weekend together, which was our excuse to see the MSU vs. Illinois football game.”
When asked what he is most proud of at Michigan State University FCU, McPharlin doesn’t hesitate to answer. “It’s the staff. I’m happy that at our credit union we’ve created a place where we’re proud to work.
We’ve formed such a positive culture that easily transmits to our members.”