Improve the quality of our members' lives by maintaining a strong, secure, and innovative Credit Union that builds trust, shows respect, and maximizes efficiency.
A Tradition Continues
From its humble beginning in 1934, when a handful of local educators founded Hillsborough County Teachers Credit Union, Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union has grown into the largest financial institution headquartered on the west coast of Florida. (See "Where We Stand" for current financial information)
Originally formed to meet the financial service needs of teachers in Hillsborough County, the field of membership was gradually increased. A charter amendment in 1953 expanded the field of membership to include Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, DeSoto, and Hardee County teachers; by the end of 1957, Manatee, Levy, and Sumter Counties were included; and Charlotte County was added in 1959. By that time, services had been extended to all school employees - not just teachers.
In 1975, the Credit Union's name was changed to Suncoast Schools Credit Union to better represent its field of membership; it became Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union with conversion to a federal charter in 1978. Suncoast continued to grow with the addition of Glades and Hendry Counties in 1982, Collier County in 1983, and Lee County in 1993. Changes in federal field of membership regulations in the 1990s allowed the inclusion of Select Employee Groups (SEGs) in the Credit Union's field of membership, allowing the Suncoast to provide services to small employee groups that would not otherwise have access to the advantages of a credit union.
Suncoast now serves public and private school employees in 15 counties and more than 1,000 SEGs. The Credit Union offers a full range of deposit, lending, and investment products with access through its branches, ATM network, Members Contact Center, and the Internet.
The Credit Union Difference
Yet the primary driving force behind the Credit Union's success is exactly what it was 70 years ago. Suncoast remains a not-for-profit, financial cooperative that exists to meet the financial needs of its membership. The members are the owners of the Credit Union. They elect a volunteer Board of Directors that establishes policies that are implemented by the management and staff.
This ownership structure is one of the two major factors in Suncoast's ability to offer favorable products and services. Without a separate group of stockholders or private owners demanding a return on their investments, all net income is given back to the membership directly or set aside for reserves. When the Board of Directors makes decisions as to interest rates, fees, or services, their goal is not to maximize the return to outside owners. It is always to do what is best for the membership.
The second major reason for the Credit Union's success is how efficiently it operates. Suncoast's expense ratios are at least 50% below those of all other major financial institutions in the Tampa Bay area. This means that a much greater percentage of overall income can be returned to the members in the form of higher dividends and lower loan rates and fees.
Suncoast remains committed to providing low cost and convenient services while addressing the financial needs of its members. That is quite simply what should be expected from a member-owned cooperative.