Outstanding Directors 2023: Patrick McGuiness

Outstanding Directors 2023: Patrick McGuiness

For board service to Hiway Credit Union (2011-present)

Other Board Service

MLM Insurance Co. (2019-present)

Minnesota Nursery & Landscaping Association (2014-15, 2020-present)

Charter School Property, Inc. (2009-2013)

St. Paul District 9 Community Council/Fort Road Federation (2009-13)

In 2021, while U.S. banks closed nearly 3,000 branches, St. Paul-based Hiway Credit Union opened a new Roseville branch across from Rosedale Center. A year later, Hiway opened another new branch in a high-visibility location in Woodbury.

Patrick McGuiness, who joined the Hiway Credit Union board in 2011, chaired the governing body during this expansion phase.

For a long time, McGuiness says, some people concluded: “The branch [office] is dead. Everything is going to move to your phone. Everything is going to move to your computer.”

But McGuiness and his fellow board members didn’t simply follow a financial services trend of downsizing brick-and-mortar locations. “We discovered, utilizing partner research and national trade association information, that people still like a touch point,” he says.

So Hiway Credit Union moved forward with its branch construction plans to make its services more accessible to more people.

In 2022, Hiway Credit Union had $1.8 billion in assets, up from $875 million in 2011.

McGuiness has been a strong believer in credit unions since he was a child, growing up in Afton. “I’ve been a member of Hiway since I was two years old,” he says. “My eligibility came through my family on my mother’s side. My grandfather was an employee of the Highway Department before it was even called MnDOT [Minnesota Department of Transportation].”

Historically, credit unions were formed by employees in workplaces. A few technicians in the Minnesota Highway Department founded the Hiway Credit Union in 1931.

Today, eligibility for membership in credit unions is much broader. In Hiway’s case, McGuiness says, membership is open to people who live, work, volunteer, or worship in the 13-county metro area. Also, people can join if they belong to select employee groups.

By operating in a collective fashion, he says, credit union members derive multiple financial benefits. “The profit is distributed back to members and not back to shareholders like it would be at a bank,” McGuiness says. In addition to paying dividends to members, he says, a credit union typically can offer consumers lower interest rates on loans and pay them higher interest rates on CDs than most banks can.

Before its suburban expansion, Hiway Credit Union had full-service branches in St. Paul near the state Capitol and in Minneapolis near the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“If we’re going to remain competitive, we have to grow,” McGuiness says, and the board concluded that growth would be spurred with more branches. “[Members] like the opportunity to go in and talk to a person, especially around more complex things like a home mortgage or auto loan,” he says. However, he notes, the new branches feature interactive teller machines, where consumers can conduct most of their business by themselves.

Pam Tschida, a Hiway Credit Union board member since 2004, notes that McGuiness has a law practice, young children, and other community involvement, but “he’s very committed to any project he takes on.” He has balanced board work with service as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, she says.

“He is so self-motivated, energetic, honest, and forthright,” she says, emphasizing that McGuiness took the lead in establishing a governance committee after he joined the board.

“Boards have a ton of power,” McGuiness says, including selecting the CEO and setting an organization’s strategic direction. He chairs the governance committee, which examines the board’s composition, committee structure, and operations. “It’s looking at all of the different ways that you can make board service more effective and more efficient,” he says.

Tschida says the board also embraced suggestions by McGuiness to establish board associate director and emeritus director programs.

A nonvoting associate director attends board meetings and learns about how the board operates and how the credit union operates, McGuiness says. He views this approach as an effective pipeline for new board members. Sophia Xiong-Yang was the first associate and now sits on the nine-member voting board.

McGuiness was board chair from 2019-22, so he was in frequent contact with CEO Dave Boden during the months after Covid surfaced. “We had never tested a pandemic-related contingency plan,” but they borrowed from other crisis plans that staff had developed, he says. “Thankfully, we had a large digital footprint.”

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