Bank Mutual has been Wisconsin’s “Go-To” bank for 120 years. And for good reason. We’ve always put the best interests of our customers at the forefront of everything we do. It’s a principle that’s driven our decisions since our founding and continues to guide us today.
In 1892, a group of men working at a local Milwaukee newspaper known as Evening Wisconsin got together and decided that they’d help each other out on the road to home ownership by organizing a small building and loan association.
They incorporated under the name of Mutual Building and Savings Association and received their charter to operate on June 27, 1892. As a part-time, group effort, they elected officers among themselves and met one evening a week to conduct their business. The original officers were all employees of the newspaper and printing office. These men fully understood that their only opportunity to purchase a home of their own was through their own efforts, since the banking community at that time typically didn’t serve the general public.
The Association’s founders were inspired to action by news of the mutual building societies that were springing up in the eastern part of the country. The officers accepted savings deposits from the members, and rotated, allowing each one to borrow the accumulated savings to partially finance the purchase of a home. In those days, there were no 30-year home loans and the money that was borrowed was paid back in a relatively short period of time, allowing the other members to take their turn at borrowing to buy a home.
The financial panic of 1893 made the going rough in the early days, until 1898, when business conditions returned to normal. When the founding officers decided to hire a full-time manager for the Association, they turned to an employee of a local abstract company, Joseph M. Crowley (uncle to Michael T. Crowley, Sr., who is the father of our current Chief Executive Officer, Michael T. Crowley, Jr.). Joseph Crowley, who went on to serve the Association for more than 60 years, was elected to his new position in 1899, when the total assets of Mutual were less than $50,000.
When the Depression hit in 1929, many members lost their jobs and were forced to withdraw their life savings from the Association. Even so, the Association has never in its history missed a dividend or interest payment. The Association has also had a proud history of home financing in the Milwaukee area. At one time, records of the Register of Deeds Office showed that Mutual had financed one out of every ten homes in Milwaukee.
Mutual Building and Savings Association later became known as Mutual Building and Loan Association. In 1965, it applied for and received a federal charter under the name of Mutual Federal Savings and Loan Association when the state placed limitations on growth through branching. On December 29, 1970, it again became a state chartered association under the name of Mutual Savings and Loan Association when the state relaxed the branching restrictions. During the 1970s and 1980s, Mutual Savings acquired several smaller savings and loans. Mutual’s trailblazing efforts to open and acquire branches helped to move savings and loan associations out of the category of neighborhood building and loans into the category of large, statewide thrifts and financial institutions.
In the 1970’s, we were also a pioneer in compounding interest. Until that time, most banks only compounded interest twice a year. We installed a revolutionary computing system in the basement of our Wisconsin Avenue location that allowed us to compound interest daily, earning a better return for our customers. The Wisconsin Avenue branch was our first permanent location and you can still bank there today.
In 1997, Mutual Savings Bank acquired First Federal Bank of Eau Claire, which allowed for expansion of the branch network into Northwest Wisconsin. First Federal of Eau Claire had served the area as a federally chartered savings bank for more than 50 years prior to the merger with Mutual Savings Bank.
In the fall of 2000, Mutual Savings Bank acquired First Northern Savings Bank, based in Green Bay, and formed a holding company which, for a while, ran both banks independently. Prior to the acquisition, First Northern had been serving customers throughout Northeast Wisconsin for 75 years. In 2003, Mutual Savings Bank and First Northern Savings Bank became one bank with a new name, Bank Mutual.
In today’s tough economic environment, we continue to look for ways to better serve our customers. We believe in running a lean operation with a highly productive staff, helping us to create a stable working environment while providing continuity of service to our customers. We’re proud that our strong fundamentals have meant that we’ve never had to accept a capital infusion under the government’s Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).
Today, we’re the largest bank based in Milwaukee and our 76 branches serve more than 100,000 households throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota.
For our retail customers, we’re spending time, energy and dollars to improve the customer experience in our 76-branch network. We’re focused on providing financial solutions that offer added value above and beyond traditional banking products. We do this through our new web site, our surcharge-free network of 22,000 ATMs, and our subsidiary, BancMutual Financial & Insurance Services, which offers annuities and securities.
While our branch network is satisfying the financial needs of our retail customers, we have the same aspirations for our commercial, business and investment real estate customers. We have an increased focus on developing our team of seasoned bankers to deliver a full complement of financial solutions to help our commercial clients become more successful.
We invite you to learn more about us. We know you’ll find that we’re the bank you can really use.