Mark Ritter is the CEO of MBFS and an expert in credit unions and business lending. His primary role at MBFS is overseeing the strategy of helping credit unions assist members with business needs and consulting with credit unions on planning the delivery of services to their membership.
In 2002, Mark started Members 1 st Federal Credit Union’s business lending program as “one person and a desk” with no policies, products, staff, systems, or business members. That program grew to be one of the top ten in the nation in the number of loans and balances outstanding for federal credit unions. In addition, Mark developed a participation program that grew to one of the top buyers and sellers of credit union business loans in the eastern United States. He has done extensive work with branch retail staff, business lending operational and sales staff, and credit unions to educate and train them on the merits of business lending.
- Who is Mark Ritter?
Mark always tells people that he is a blue collar guy in a white collar world. He grew up in a town called Burwick in Pennsylvania and despite being a marginal football player he found himself with the opportunity to work for the Penn State football team. Without that chance he would probably still be working in that small town. In many ways he can attribute that one thing to getting him to where he is today.
Mark remembers his father talking about their credit union fondly and that has always stuck with him. Once he got older and looked for new areas to work in he thought again of the credit union space. In terms of superheros, Mark considers himself like Aquaman. Aquaman has a number of non obvious superpowers but they are quite useful when you need them.
- How are credit unions different?
When you walk into a credit union you’ll see a lot of the same features that you would at a bank. The difference is in the underlying structure, credit unions are a cooperative business that focuses on building relationships and doing what’s right for people. The shareholders and stakeholders of a credit union are the members of that union, and in some ways they are similar to mutual insurance companies.
Credit unions were originally created for businesses, and since then there has been a revolution in what credit unions were capable of that has lead to them really taking off.
Credit unions can be friendlier when it comes to fees, and terms and conditions on the financing they offer because they are considering what is best for the membership of the union instead of just the shareholders.
One out of every three people have an account with a credit union. They are generally smaller institutions when compared to banks but even then they are still managing many millions of dollars. There are twice as many credit unions in America as there are banks, but getting the word out is one of the main challenges.
Most people want a relationship with their financial institution and with credit unions that’s possible. The numbers are the same for everybody, where credit unions excel is in the qualitative analysis of a loan and taking the story into account.
- Where do credit unions operate?
Most credit unions prefer to lend within their region but there are some that will consider a wider area. If a customer comes to Mark with a need for financing in another area, they would recommend another credit union to work with that’s closer to home.
Everything that a credit union does in internal to their own portfolio. They lend against their own money but they also love to work cooperatively with other credit unions. For larger loans, there could be multiple credit unions participating in the loan without the borrower even realizing.
Credit unions are insured the same way that banks are insured, so there is pretty much no downside to working with a credit union instead of a bank.
- Why did you go from football to credit unions?
The community bank of the local area is going away and the trend is towards super sized corporate banks. Mark looked at the credit unions as a career path because their value systems were the same as his.
- Credit Unions and Real Estate
Credit unions operate in many different markets at every different price point. They work with individual investors, sophisticated investors, and major developers. When credit unions first began they were limited to their lending limits to 12.5% of the portfolio, but legislation recently passed made it so that small 1 to 4 unit properties don’t count against that limit. That has really opened up the possibilities for real estate investors to work with credit unions.
Since they take into account the borrower’s history and experience into the loan, credit unions may be a good lending partner for the more difficult short term rental market. They also take into account the income value of the property instead of just the appraised value. Residential rental lending is nearly a third of Mark’s company’s business.
Most of the lending that a credit union does is recourse lending that requires a personal guarantee, but they do some non recourse lending for bigger investors.
- Mark’s Takeaway
Follow your dreams. Don’t do it for the money. Do it to fulfill your life goal instead. A business is a great way to build and take control of your own destiny. If you’re one of the two thirds of the country who aren’t members of a credit union, they may be the kind of financial institution that you have been looking for.