Return home

AmeriCU CEO to retire after 42-year career

Jolene Cleaver
Staff writer
Posted 1/15/20

In the wake of a late 2019 announcement that AmeriCU President and CEO Mark Pfisterer would retire, he recently had a chance to reflect on his almost 42 years with the …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

AmeriCU CEO to retire after 42-year career


In the wake of a late 2019 announcement that AmeriCU President and CEO Mark Pfisterer would retire, he recently had a chance to reflect on his almost 42 years with the financial institution.

But for starters, he notes his retirement is not immediate.

A search is on for his replacement and Pfisterer said he will wait that process out to do a formal hand-off of duties. He estimates there are some months to go before that happens.

Getting gains

In 1979, Pfisterer joined what was then dubbed UpState Credit Union as a comptroller and assistant manager for administration. In 1981, he was promoted to executive vice president, then to president/CEO in 1986, serving in that capacity ever since.

“Leading this organization has been the honor of a lifetime,” said Pfisterer in a statement prior to a January 13 interview at his Black River Boulevard office location. “In my 40 plus years of working here, I have witnessed a tremendous amount of growth and change in the industry, as well as the credit union itself.”

As an example, Pfisterer said when he became CEO in 1986, AmeriCU brought $86 million in assets. Flashing to this year, he adds the institution closed out 2019 with $1.9 billion in assets. In addition, the entity (a 501-c-14 nonprofit) shows 379 employees on 2018 IRS filings.

For the CEO, growth is attained by constant change or recalibration.

“Over the years, we had to build a different culture,” he said. In order to advance the credit union from its beginnings in the 1950s, the culture had to change to serve the membership.

That change morphed from a traditional banking mindset of steering the customer toward what they should be doing, to now using technology to empower the customer toward conducting their business how they see fit. Now there is a balance between those who use financial technology products and those who prefer face time with financial professionals, Pfisterer said speaking to the hybridization of financial services born of the generational mindset of customers, he said.

“You create an experience where members want to come,” Pfisterer said. “... You are creating a way for a family to get its first loan...”

An environment is created where customers can achieve goals and learn to navigate a financial institution, he said.

Looking forward

Pfisterer said he often thinks of how technology has changed in the community and about economic growth in Central New York.

And here in Rome.

“The ecosystem on (Griffiss Business and Technology Park) has been significant,” he said pointing to the variety of tech businesses setting up shop in the area. “We’re kind of on the cusp of the next greatest thing,”

Now, Pfisterer just needs to figure out what his next steps will be, he said.

AmeriCU is a not-for profit financial entity serving nine counties in Central and Northern New York. AmeriCU is seated in central New York and serves over 136,000 members worldwide through 19 full service financial center locations, according to statements from the company.


Pfisterer — a Utica native — served in the United States Army reserves. He was Brigade Commander 7th Brigade, 78th Division, in support of the 2nd Training Support Brigade, 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum. In 2003, he retired after thirty years of combined military service as a colonel.

Leading up to his retirement announcement, according to IRS documents filed by AmeriCU, in 2018, Pfisterer reported a base compensation of $881,456 and when combined with additional reportable compensation including retirement and deferred compensation, his year totaled $2,522,629.

In 2017, his base salary was $821,164, and with other reportable compensation (including deferred retirement payments), he ultimately received $7,967,445. In 2016, his total compensation between base and deferred retirement payouts, totaled $3,463,506, according to the filings.

In a statement looking back on Pfisterer’s career, Joe Turczyn, chairman of the AmeriCU board from 1989 to 1999 (and board member since 1984) said, “The Board of Directors saw early on that Mark had the perfect combination of credit union experience, technical ability, wisdom and vision that was needed to lead this financial institution into a highly competitive marketplace and a new challenging technological era.”

Also, William Mellin, president and chief executive officer of the New York Credit Union Association, said in a statement, “Mark is a tremendous leader who has done extraordinary things for AmeriCU, the Central New York region and the credit union movement as a whole. As a longtime board member and former chairman of the New York Credit Union Association, Mark helped guide the association and the state’s credit unions to new heights and new possibilities. In short, his contributions to the credit union movement are immeasurable.”


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here