Mutual Bank

Mutual Bank

A Mutually Beneficial Relationship: The Benefits of a Mutual Bank

All banks are the same, right? Not at all. In fact, that could not be further from the truth. There are large, national banks with familiar names, regional banks that can be found in a particular part of the country, and local banks that have a very concentrated geographical footprint. East Cambridge Savings Bank falls into the third category. What also sets us apart is that we are a mutual savings bank. There are many benefits of banking with a mutual savings bank – including improving the financial wellbeing of yourself, your neighbors, and local businesses.

What is a mutual savings bank?

By definition, a mutual savings bank is not a publicly traded company and does not have investors – in other words, you cannot buy and sell stock in a mutual bank the way you can with a large publicly held national bank. Mutual banks have been around since the early nineteenth century and are still common in New England. Our Bank was founded in 1854 and has been operating with the same name and charter since then; in fact, we have never been acquired or been sold to a larger bank. Since East Cambridge Savings Bank is a mutual bank and does not have shareholders, we reinvest profits locally through mortgages, loans for small businesses, and supporting nonprofit organizations.


Mutual Banks Help Grow the Local Economy:

The business model of a mutual bank is relatively simple: we accept deposits from personal and business customers and then use those deposits to make loans to those same customers and communities. Those loans help people buy their first home or start a business, therefore increasing the stability and viability of the cities and towns we serve. According to the Institute for Local Self Reliance, “Community banks outperform big banks by operating more efficiently and better meeting the financial needs of the real economy. In particular, they provide a disproportionately large share of loans for new and growing businesses, in part because they’re better at accurately assessing risk.” In other words, as a local bank that knows the needs of our communities,  we are better equipped to make decisions that will directly benefit our customers, not just our bottom line.

ECS072121C_MutualBankInfograph_1080x1080_LP-1.jpgA symbiotic relationship: the more the community works with a mutual bank, the more we can do for the community:

Our time-tested and proven model of reinvesting profits locally means that the more customers who bank with us, the more loans and support we can provide for the community. Mutual banks were originally established to encourage savings and “thrift” among their customers. Establishing an early relationship with a bank like East Cambridge Savings Bank (like an iSave account to help children save, or East Cambridge Checking,  a premium account with no monthly maintenance charges) can help us get to know you, your goals, and unique needs. We have worked with multiple generations of the same families, either for their personal banking or business needs. These longtime customers keep coming back to us because we know them by name, not as a number, and we have helped them prosper and thrive over many years. Furthermore, making loans available for investment in local real estate ventures, commercial projects as well as housing developments also helps ensure that the Bank is prioritizing local economic growth and expansion. As the Bank’s relationships grow, we are able to offer more products and services to meet the evolving needs of our communities.

Favorable (Lower) Fees:

With no shareholders to report to, we can prioritize steady and stable growth. It also means that we are not driven to rely on fee income to increase our profits. Overall, mutual banks have lower fees and more flexibility to structure our fee schedule in a way that does not negatively impact our customers. According to the Independent Community Bankers of America, local banks have “lower average checking fees, lower overdraft fees, lower foreign ATM fees, and lower balance requirements to avoid checking fees.”

ECS072121C_MutualBankInfograph_1080x1080_LP-5.jpgSame Products as the Big Banks (Just Better):

Not only is East Cambridge Savings Bank a mutual bank, we are a full-service mutual bank. We have come a long way since offering passbook savings and vacation club accounts. We offer a full and complete line of personal, business, lending, and investment services. We also offer the same technology and conveniences including powerful and responsive online and mobile banking, debit card controls, text alerts, and contactless debit cards. With 167 years of banking experience, we know what our local customers want, and how to meet those needs. East Cambridge Savings Bank provides the financial services for every step of your financial journey, whether it’s business succession and expansion planning, first-time savings accounts or retirement planning, and every step along the way.

Innovative Programs to Support Home Ownership:

We are fortunate to live and work in great communities but buying a home in Greater Boston can mean coming up with a hefty down payment. This puts homeownership out of reach for many of our neighbors. We’re proud to participate in two programs in partnership with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston: the Housing Our Workforce (HOW) program and Equity Builder Program (EBP). Both initiatives provide down payment, closing costs, and other homebuyer assistance to borrowers who meet certain income eligibility requirements. We also participate in the MassHousing ONE program which offers mortgages to first-time buyers, and the Community Heroes program which helps first responders, nurses, and teachers attain a mortgage. You can read about these and other programs that will help you move into your first home on our Community Lending Programs webpage.

A Great Place to Bank, and a Great Place to Work:

Let’s be honest, banking might not sound like the most exciting industry to work in (banking in some form has existed for centuries), but the work we do is absolutely critical to the financial stability of the community - think first-time homebuyer loans or small business loans to your favorite coffee shop. In addition to supporting our customers and communities, we support the people who work here. As an employee of East Cambridge Savings Bank, you are part of something bigger than simply a company or business. We exist to improve the quality of living, working, and raising a family in the communities we serve.  Everything we do is designed around furthering the success of this mission – and our success is driven by our diverse and spirited team of employees. The Bank is also committed to our employee’s education and career development. Many of our managers and senior leaders began as tellers and worked their way through the ranks. In fact, our President and CEO, head of Human Resources, and recent head of retail banking all began their careers as tellers. We are a diverse and inclusive workforce. As of the end of 2020, 58% of our workforce was female, and 38% of our workforce identifies as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). We are also incredibly proud to be a women-led organization. For five years in a row, East Cambridge Savings Bank has been named one of the Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts by The Commonwealth Institute and Boston Globe Magazine, and 86% of our senior leadership team are women. That is simply just not something you often see in banking, or other industries, for that matter.

Mutuality Means Giving Back:

For the last five years in a row, East Cambridge Savings Bank has been named one of the Top Charitable Contributors in Massachusetts by the Boston Business Journal as measured by financial support and volunteer hours. The Bank and its Charitable Foundation (the East Cambridge Savings Charitable Foundation) are focused on supporting organizations that positively impact the lives of our neighbors and community residents. Since the Charitable Foundation was incorporated in 1997, the Bank has contributed millions to support affordable housing, education, family and youth services and elder services. We are incredibly honored to partner with nonprofit organizations like Bread of Life in Malden, Somerville-Cambridge Elder-Services, Homeowners Rehab, Inc. in Cambridge, and Greenroots, Inc. in Chelsea. These are just a few of the many organizations we support on an annual basis, not only with financial contributions, but through volunteering, board service, and in-kind donations. To learn more about the Bank’s charitable and corporate giving, click here.

Dependability During a Crisis:

We have all lived through an incredibly difficult year as our communities navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. While a challenging time, banks were considered an essential business, and East Cambridge Savings Bank never curtailed services to customers. We adapted and innovated and made sure that no customer was turned away – even if that meant conducting transactions in the parking lot. Mutual banks also played a critical role in processing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. These loans provided a lifeline to small and independent businesses throughout the communities we serve. We wanted to make sure that these businesses could re-open and thrive again!  Our lenders worked around the clock to submit PPP loans to the Small Business Administration and get these business owners the funds they needed. Our efforts resulted in the processing of hundreds of PPP loans which helped keep paychecks going to more than 5,000 employees.

Enriching our Customers and Communities Through Education:

Mutual banks exist for the betterment of our customers and communities. This includes providing educational opportunities for people in all stages of life. East Cambridge Savings Bank provides a comprehensive series of financial education courses (all free) for students, prospective homebuyers, and senior citizens. Topics include teaching children to save, applying for your first mortgage, and identifying and preventing financial scams. To foster the next generation of local bankers, we operate an educational training facility at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. Students take a course in banking and operate a fully operational branch at the high school during the academic year. After graduation, we offer these young people a job at the Bank so they can gain real-world work experience. Several students who have completed this program still work at the Bank today. We know that an educated customer has the power to make better financial decisions. To learn more about our community education initiatives or to request a complimentary workshop for your school or organization, click here.

A Reliable Presence Since 1854:

Founded in 1854, East Cambridge Savings Bank has operated under the same name and same banking charter ever since. We have never been bought out by a larger bank. And while East Cambridge is proudly in our name and part of our identity, we serve the needs of Greater Boston – particularly in Middlesex, Suffolk, and Essex Counties. As our footprint has expanded beyond Cambridge, we have gotten to know the people, businesses, and organizations that make those cities and towns great places to live, work, and raise a family. With banking centers in eight cities and towns now, we don’t just open a branch and put our name on a sign, we get to work and get to know our neighbors to better serve them.

We are local and proud since 1854.