An early ad shows Systematic’s connection to local Shriners.
When Systematic Savings Bank began in 1923, it capitalized on the recent flurry of activity from the nearby Shrine Mosque’s construction. Originally dubbed Fidelity Savings and Loan, early ads for the business showcased Shriner-themed elements, including the organization’s symbols and terminology. It identified the organization’s leaders as “Nobles,” terminology tied to Shriners.
In those days, the business was located on the north end of South Avenue; the bank vault still exists where the “thrift” began. Three years after it was organized, the business changed its name — and, by looking at vintage ads, it isn’t too difficult to guess what the new name would tie to. In October 1926, Fidelity officially became Systematic Savings and Loan.
Fidelity Savings and Loan Association changed its name to Systematic Savings and Loan in 1926.
Some might wonder how such a young financial institution was able to weather the Great Depression. One account ties its success to a man named W. Harry Flanagan, who joined the organization that same year.
“Using his newly developed bookkeeping system, W. Harry Flanagan helped Systematic customers make it through the worst of times by letting them pay what they could on their bills, sometimes only the interest, sometimes nothing at all,” reported the Springfield News-Leader in 1990. “While other thrifts failed, Systematic survived and Flanagan moved up the ranks to serve as president and chairman of the board.”
Flanagan — and his son-in-law, Charles E. Gottas — were instrumental in the organization’s development. In 1969, Flanagan saw the business move to its current building, just a couple of doors down from its original location on South Avenue. That’s the only time the business has moved in its history.
Flanagan served as chairman until shortly before his death in 1990, while Gottas continued in leadership until 2007. In 2011, the institution’s name was changed to Systematic Savings Bank to eliminate confusion about terminology. According to current leadership, the term “bank” is so universally recognized that the subtle differences between structures — such as savings and loans and credit unions — are unimportant to the consumer. This mentality led to the name change, since to the public, all financial institutions are “banks.”
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For more information, contact Systematic Savings Bank via their website.