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Torch is passed at Lynn’s Brotherhood Credit Union

From left, James J. Sherman and his son, Adam H. Sherman work at Brotherhood Credit Union. (Olivia Falcigno)

LYNN – Like father, like son: Brotherhood Credit Union President/CEO James J. Sherman has passed the torch at the 75 Market Street financial institution to his son, Adam H. Sherman. 

Brotherhood Credit’s board of directors approved the younger Sherman’s promotion from chief financial officer to president/CEO effective Aug. 5 and James Sherman will continue serving on Brotherhood’s board. 

For the Shermans and their 18 employees, the succession is business as usual in a credit union run by Shermans for four generations. 

“We’ve always been family. People work with me, not for me,” said James Sherman. 

Founded by the Beth Jacob Synagogue brotherhood with $100 in 1934, Brotherhood Credit today has $110 million in assets and 6,000 members. Rather than being owned by shareholders, credit unions are owned by depositors.

“We’re one member, one vote,” said James Sherman. 

Once essentially an institution where people walked in and borrowed money, Brotherhood now competes in a financial landscape dominated by the Internet and dotted with an array of financial options for borrowers.
Coronavirus has added social distancing restrictions to Brotherhood’s operations, but James Sherman insists phone calls are answered.

“It might be considered old school, but I do business that way,” he said. 

His retirement caps off 50 years working in the family business. Sherman’s grandfather, Joseph, served on Brotherhood’s original board, followed by his son, Samuel, who had definite ideas about working in finance. 

James Sherman recalled asking as a young man for a few summer Saturdays off from work. Samuel Sherman quickly pointed out that his son already had Sundays off.

“Working for family is not a walk in the park, but it is nice,” said Adam Sherman.

He grew up in Marblehead and has worked 20 years for Brotherhood. A University of Massachusetts-Amherst graduate, Sherman earned a master’s degree in business administration from Suffolk University.

Taking the helm at Brotherhood means continuing to sail the credit union through the choppy financial seas. The Internet provides challenges and opportunities, Adam Sherman said.

“Many of our members wouldn’t have found us without the Internet. People can go elsewhere for a better rate, if they can find it,” he said.

His father quickly added: “We’ll beat the competition on rates nine out of 10 times.”

Brotherhood opened its Humphrey Street, Marblehead branch in 2006.

Member loyalty is Brotherhood Credit’s key to success, said the Shermans. James Sherman recalled how credit union employees helped a woman rebuild her finances following her divorce. She eventually bought a condominium, and she sends the credit union a photograph every year of the ocean view from her home. 

“I keep the card on my desk. It’s seeing lives changed that I enjoy,” James Sherman said. 

The pandemic has thrown challenges at Brotherhood Credit, but the elder Sherman keeps them in perspective and notes how skyrocketing interest rates in the 1980s posed their own challenges. 

Brotherhood has moved around Lynn throughout the decades, from Blossom Street to Summer Street, then Mount Vernon Street, and, finally, to Market Street in 1979. 

Even as its membership expands, the credit union has stayed loyal to helping generations of new Americans seeking to establish a financial footing. 

“You have to find a balance. You adapt with the times and serve members’ needs,” Adam Sherman said. 

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