‘Top-Level Thinking, Bottom-Line Success’

CUNA conference helps CFOs ‘build a better bean to count.’

June 14, 2011
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On May 15, more than 400 senior finance professionals came together in San Diego for the 17th Annual CUNA CFO Council Conference.

It was the largest, most successful conference in the council’s history, in part because of the improved economic conditions, the draw of San Diego, and the content-rich agenda.

There were many timely topics presented at the conference. Here are some highlights.

Pre-conference workshops

The conference started Sunday afternoon with two exceptional pre-conference workshops: “Building a Better Bean to Count: Innovation Best Practices” from Filene Research Institute Chief Innovation Officer Denise Gabel, and “Using the Interest Rate Risk Model to Build Effective Balance Sheet Strategies” by Tom Bowers, vice president of client services at ZM Financial Systems.

Gabel discussed what innovation truly means in the financial services industry. She worked to change participants’ perception of innovation, and explained how to manage innovation in credit unions. She gave real-world examples to help credit unions stand out, have fun, and become more profitable.

Tom Bowers taught CFOs how to progress their analytics beyond pure compliance reporting to proactive design of the risk/reward tradeoff. He also examined the building blocks of a robust risk culture, as well as key rate duration, a tool that characterizes a credit union’s economic value “gap.”

Conference highlights

Walter Bond, former NBA player and current business owner and motivational speaker, started the conference by discussing the most effective ways to lead and how to be likeable.

Bond highlighted the importance of connecting, not just communicating. In a society and business environment that’s moving so fast, his message was vital for all CFOs to hear.

One of the most widely anticipated sessions of the conference was “Interchange: Now What?” Chris Joy and Norm Patrick from PSCU Financial Services presented the challenges that lie ahead for credit unions regarding the pending interchange rule.

They talked about possible outcomes of the rule, and various strategies to assess, monitor, and manage the debit card portfolio.

Joy and Patrick suggested assigning ownership for the portfolio and handling the card program like any other business unit, complete with a profit and loss statement.

They said managing the portfolio—tracking the number of cards issued and percent activated, directing card activity to more profitable channels, knowing what the most popular and profitable purchases are, etc.—may result in more income after the interchange rule goes into effect.

Next: More great speakers

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