Blue water rocky shore
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Blue water rocky shore
Blue water rocky shore
Photo of Keith Mestrich

Keith Mestrich

Former President & CEO

Last Friday, Amalgamated Bank enjoyed a banner day. Our brand was prominently displayed in the heart of Times Square, employees pointed out colleagues who appeared live on Bloomberg and CNBC and the NASDAQ floor was bustling with Amalgamated Bank veterans, board members and countless others who were in attendance to witness history as the bank went public. Needless to say, it was a proud week for the bank and, while celebrations are certainly in order, I think it’s important to take stock of how far we’ve come as a company in a very short time.

It wasn’t long ago that the bank found itself in grave financial standing. As was the case with many other financial institutions, the 2008 collapse presented a challenging financial condition for the bank. By 2011, regulators stepped in and put considerable constraints on the bank and mandated reforms. The consent decree imposed on the bank presented two options: either clean up our balance sheet or suffer the same fate that befell so many other banks during that time. Desperately in the need of capital, the bank turned to private investment for an influx of cash and a new “lease on life.” Over the course of the next couple years, we renewed our focus on selling off bad loans, renovating risk systems and boosting capital, and the FDIC lifted the consent order, ushering in a new era in the bank’s history.

In 2014 we got a fresh start with some new personnel and immediately recognized the vast amount of work that needed to be done to right the ship and make Amalgamated a profitable institution. We completely revamped our management team, grew our customer base, implemented a more disciplined expense culture and placed a focus on improving the quality of both our assets and sources of funding. Soon enough, our efforts proved fruitful. Deposits grew, quality of assets and liabilities improved and we managed to enhance the bank’s efficiency. Looking back, we’ve experienced 13 consecutive quarters of positive pre-tax income—no small feat and one of which I am quite proud.

The success we’ve enjoyed has allowed us to hone in on our target audience and better serve the nonprofits, labor unions, advocacy groups and socially responsible businesses that share our vision for positive change. Through this turnaround, we’ve become known as America’s socially responsible bank, a badge we proudly wear.

Our becoming a public company highlights an exciting trend; the fact that mission-aligned business is finally making its way into the mainstream. There is an ever-growing interest in businesses and organizations that are socially conscious and mission-oriented, and we’ve been at the forefront of shifting the paradigm of what banking can be. In many ways, we’ve been doing that for 95 years.

This new market consensus, paired with our increased access to capital, uniquely positions us to build on the business we’ve been cultivating all these years. That means the opportunity to expand our reach in progressive cities where our values resonate—cities like Chicago, Boston and L.A. We anticipate being able to bring specialized financial services to people and organizations in these cities that have never been given the attention they deserve. We look forward to joining forces with likeminded institutions because together we constitute a formidable force for change. And we will double down on our efforts to build the resources, impact and power to support the companies who are making the world a better place to live.

The confetti has been cleared from the NASDAQ floor, the last glass of champagne has been poured and another aspirant company has left a new set of fingerprints on the opening bell, but the feeling of accomplishment we experienced during that momentous week and the hope we have for what’s ahead will last long past the closing bell.

Forward-Looking Statements

This communication may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Statements about the Amalgamated’s expectations, beliefs, plans, predictions, forecasts, objectives, assumptions or future events or performance are not historical facts and may be forward-looking. These statements are often, but not always, made through the use of words or phrases such as “anticipates,” “believes,” “can,” “could,” “may,” “predicts,” “potential,” “should,” “will,” “estimate,” “plans,” “projects,” “continuing,” “ongoing,” “expects,” “intends” and similar words or phrases. Accordingly, these statements are only predictions and involve estimates, known and unknown risks, assumptions and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in them. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such statements. Any forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by reference to the factors discussed from time-to-time in Amalgamated’s filings with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Further, any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which it is made, and Amalgamated undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances after the date on which the statement is made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.