Communities are a compendium of people, places, things and energy. A community is also a direct reflection of the level of investment by its key financial anchors. Although it’s growing faster than any other borough in NYC, Brooklyn is very much still a community. It’s filled with individual stories that unfold anew everyday and intertwine like ivy in a very unique, Brooklyn way.

When it issues credit cards with lower interest rates, those community members swipe at their favorite restaurants.

When it teaches financial health to a clothing store, that store keeps inventory flowing, so parents can do back to school shopping in the neighborhood and not in Manhattan.

When it grants mortgages for affordable co-ops, younger community members build equity used to send kids to college

Do you BCoop? It’s a question to ask yourself because banking isn’t about bankers and bond holders. Banking is about people. It’s about each Brooklyn story that needs nourishment. It’s about services that enrich the lives of the people in it, whether by providing mortgages, issuing  credit cards with humane interest rates or lending to small businesses.

In this series titled, Do You BCoop?, we’re spotlighting customers of Brooklyn Coop and sharing their stories of how cooperative banking has nourished their dreams.

Francine Chew

Francine Chew
Francine Chew

Francine Chew is a mother of two, who works as a corporate philanthropy professional. This is the story of her experience with Brooklyn Coop.

How long have you been with The Brooklyn Coop?

I joined March in 2015.

What Services of The Brooklyn Coop do you use?

Mortgage banking, savings account.

What bank was your experience banking prior to The Brooklyn Coop?

My first mortgage was at [a major bank], I applied for the second mortgage at [that bank], but they said that my credit card balances were too high. I wanted to tap into the equity value of my home, exchange higher interest credit card debt, for lower interest rate through a second mortgage. I incurred 100% of marital debt, mostly on credit cards, through a divorce settlement. I have a perfect payment history. I’ve never paid late and had a 710 credit score, which [the bank] said was a tier 3 credit score. They did their  calculations and declined my application, based on their formula. Brooklyn Coop was more expansive in understanding risk,  they understood my reason for taking out a second mortgage.

How did you find out about The Brooklyn Coop? 

My sister works in mortgages, and recommended that I go to a national service that connects people to other lending options outside of major banks and that’s how I found Brooklyn Coop

Do you feel it is important to bank at a local cooperative? If so, why?

A coop takes a high-touch community based approach to banking that is no longer offered at more traditional banks.  There’s a higher level of customer service, more of an investment in serving the middle and working class, and a real investment in understanding their clients’ financial circumstances.  A coop partners with its clients, and that’s increasingly rare, unless you’re well off.

What has been your biggest surprise about banking at a coop versus a bank?

The high level of customer service!  Throughout the loan process, I interacted with Samira, the CEO, with Cathie Nieves, the Chief Operations Officer and with Daniel Gonzales, my loan officer.  They were all incredibly helpful, responsive and professional.  No way would I have received that level of support anywhere else.

To receive more information about The Brooklyn Coop and its services, please email Rebecca Pear at [email protected] or [email protected].

To read other BCoop stories, enter “Do You BCoop” into the search window of the website!

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  1. It’s a great bank, we’ve had accounts in it ever since they moved to their new place on DeKalb and Throop. I would encourage people to get accounts there (or any other small good savings bank, like Amalgamated on Fulton Street) instead of giving their money to the rapacious big banks.

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