December 1935: The Albuquerque Gas and Electric Company Employees Federal Credit Union is founded by these ten employees: E. K. Kipp, R. C. Palmer, Fred A. Wernz, Walter J. Dolde, J. A. Crowley, John J. Reddin, William J. Luby, George L. Hull, D. B. McKee, and L. G. Dizas.
Credit unions are financial cooperatives tracing their beginnings to Europe in the 1840’s. The national credit union motto is “not for profit, not for charity, but for service.” Another philosophy of the credit union movement has always been “people helping people”. The intent of credit unions is to promote thrift and to provide loans for prudent or productive purposes at a reasonable rate of interest.
Southwest Federal Credit Union began as The Albuquerque Gas and Electric Company Employees Federal Credit in December 1935. Ten employees came together in the midst of the Great Depression to form their own financial cooperative. The new Credit Union would meet their financial needs and those of their fellow employees and their families. At the time, a member had to be an employee of the Company to join and continue to participate in the Credit Union.
In 1945, our sponsor changed its name to Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM). The credit union followed suit, becoming Pubserco Federal Credit Union.
In 1987, the credit union changed its name again to Southwest Federal Credit Union to demonstrate the growing diversity of the membership and following a merger with Safeco Federal Employees Credit Union. The merger provided a branch presence in Farmington and added approximately 400 members and two employee groups. It was helpful also as our sponsor had completed the purchase of some natural gas assets and formed the Gas Company of New Mexico. There were many new employees and potential members added with that action.
In 2005, PNM purchased Texas/New Mexico Public Service (TNMP) and Altura in Texas, bringing additional potential members to the credit union. PNM Resources, Inc. continues to add new entities to its organization, which will continue to expand SFCU’s membership.
Today SFCU serves the employees and members of dozens of companies and associations. As we have grown and changed through the years, so have the rules and regulations under which we operate. There are two types of charters for credit unions: federal and state. Any Credit Union having “Federal” as part of its name, as we do, is regulated, insured and examined by the National Credit Union Association (NCUA).
Credit unions may request from the NCUA an “underserved” designation for a community or geographical area that is lacking financial services or that carry a low-income designation. The Federal Credit Union Act, the governing act of federally insured credit unions, expects credit unions “…to make more available to people of small means credit for provident purposes…” With this goal, SFCU obtained an underserved designation for San Juan County and is able to serve anyone who lives, worships, attends school, or works in San Juan County, New Mexico.
We now serve approximately 5,600 members throughout the states of New Mexico and Texas. SFCU’s service territory covers more square miles than any other New Mexico Credit Union. Approximately 40% of our members are in the Farmington area. Given our participation in shared branching, our fee-free ATM networks through CU Anytime, the Co-Op Network, and Bank of the West, and online and mobile banking, we are a better able than ever to meet our members’ needs.