CHARTER ONE FINANCIAL, INC., began in 1934 as First Federal Savings and Loan Assn. of Cleveland, with $75,000 in capital and an office at 5710 Portage Ave. Founded to serve the CZECH community, the association thrived under the guidance of Charles F. Koch and James Mikes. By 1953 First Federal had moved its office to 5733 Broadway. In the mid-1960s, Charles F. Koch became chairman of the bank and turned over its operation to his son, Charles Joseph, an engineer turned banker. The decade of the 1970s was one of steady growth, during which assets increased from about $120 million to $356 million. By the end of the decade, First Federal had relocated its main office to Park Centre at 1215 Superior Ave. and had 17 offices in northeast Ohio.
In the 1980s First Federal Savings & Loan Assn. became First Federal Savings Bank, allowing it to expand its services. The bank used its financial strength to buy up troubled savings and loans in the area. Family control continued in 1988 when Chairman Charles Joseph Koch appointed his son, Charles John "Bud," as the bank's CEO. The same year, Charter One Financial Inc. was organized as a stockholder-owned holding company to further its acquisition program. The purchase of BROADVIEW FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK from the federal government 18 May 1990 represented the bank's 10th acquisition during the decade, which gave it a total of 71 branches throughout the state and assets exceeding $3 billion. In 1992 First Federal assumed the name Charter One Bank in order to strengthen the association with its parent corporation and to distinguish it from other First Federal banks in the area. Charter One Financial took over WOMEN'S FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK in 1993.
Charles Joseph Koch retired as chairman in 1995 and was replaced by his son Bud, who would continue the aggressive acquisition program started since he was first appointed CEO. Later that year, Charter One merged with FirstFed Michigan Corp., a Detroit-based thrift still emerging from a restructuring plan. The merger more than doubled Charter One's assets to over $13 billion and transformed the bank into Ohio's sixth largest financial institution and the largest savings bank in the Midwest. That same year, Charter One further increased its Detroit presence by purchasing First Nationwide Bank's Detroit-area branches. By 1996, the Plain Dealer reported that bank executives could boast "a compounded annual earnings growth rate of 19.6 percent" since going public in 1988. In 1997, Charter One acquired Cleveland-based Haverfield Corp. and also gained a considerable presence in New York State after acquiring the parent company of the Rochester Community Savings Bank, which brought the bank's assets to nearly $19 billion. The following year, Charter One acquired Albany-based Albank Financial, inc.-adding another $4.1 billion to its assets. This move required the company to form the bank holding company Charter One Financial in order to comply with New York State law. By 2001, Charter One operated branches in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont with assets of more than $35 billion. In 2002, mortgage loans made up 37 percent of Charter One's business (as opposed to nearly 75 percent in 1997) and in May, Charter One Financial swapped its federal savings bank charter for a national bank charter-a final indication of the changes occurring since the bank went public in 1988. Later that year, the American Banker, a newspaper for the financial services industry, named Charter One's chairman and CEO Bud Koch its 2002 "Innovator of the Year." In 2004, Citizens Financial Group acquired Charter One. Charter One retained its name, and continues to maintain a headquarters in downtown Cleveland.