‘Top-Level Thinking, Bottom-Line Success’

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

June 14, 2011
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Out of the ordinary

The CUNA CFO Council Conference did some things a little differently this year. We invited a local MBA student to write a white paper on a credit union topic of her choosing.

In return, the student—Anne Legg, vice president of marketing at Cabrillo Credit Union—received credit at her university, as well as a speaking opportunity at the conference. Legg wrote her MBA thesis on the sustainability of the credit union business model.

CUNA Economists Mike Schenk and Steve Rick conducted an engaging and thought-provoking “Finance Face-off.” Mike and Steve presented various views of the overall macro-economy, and then discussed what it will mean for credit unions in 2011 and 2012.

Both Mike and Steve believe the yield curve will flatten in 2012 as the Federal Reserve raises short-term interest rates.The consequence for credit unions: lower spreads.

Many CFOs presented case studies on a variety of topics, including “Best Practices in Tracking and Reporting TDRs,” “Best Practices from Multi-Disciplined CFOs,” and “Performance Excellence Program: Firsthand from a Baldrige Credit Union.”

The conference concluded with two engaging and thought-provoking general sessions: “Leadership Strategies for a New Era,” presented by Mark Sievewright, president of Fiserv’s Credit Union Division, and “Rich Thinking,” presented by author/speaker Tim Richardson.

Mark discussed the transformation underway in the U.S. financial services industry and how credit unions can capitalize on it. Many of the barriers credit unions face are internal, including the resistance to change.

Tim gave an entertaining speech on the need for change. How one responds to the change in their environment will determine either the organization’s demise or destiny. Tim challenged all attendees to leave their comfort zone, promote creative thinking in their organizations, and encourage innovation.

As a saying goes, “information without action is useless.” It’s imperative for CFOs to take action on topics they found to be relevant for their personal growth—and that of their credit unions.

BRANDON MICHAELS is CFO of Mazuma Credit Union, Kansas City, Mo., and vice chair of the CUNA CFO Council Executive Committee. Contact him at 816-361-4194.

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