From Auditor to Advocate

Her CU mission is bring strategy and finance together.

October 08, 2013
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Her zeal for credit unions extends back to her first job as an auditor, when Pam Finch visited Mid-Minnesota Federal
Credit Union in Baxter, in 1992.

“From that point on, I looked forward to serving credit unions. The people were friendly and the atmosphere was welcoming.”

Mid-Minnesota’s then-CEO, Ray Burnett, recruited her as chief financial officer (CFO) in 1996.

During Finch’s tenure at Mid-Minnesota, the credit union grew from $60 million to $250 million in assets.

“My goal was to maintain a loan-to-share ratio as high as possible,” recalls Finch. Other CEOs would tease her for “being disappointed with anything less than 110%. I liked to run lean because the best investment is an investment in members.”

That style changed in 2008 with the flight to safety. But Mid-Minnesota continued to thrive, refining its long-standing consultative sales and service culture, adding branches, and absorbing very little capital loss during the corporate crisis.

“I feel good about where the credit union is positioned as I move on,” says Finch, who began a new position in September with consulting firm c. myers. 

Council leader
As a 17-year member of the CFO Council—eight years spent on the executive committee—Finch recalls, “We had fun, worked hard, and grew one of the most sought-after memberships in the industry.”

During her tenure at Mid-Minnesota, Finch facilitated a strategic planning process built on the principles used by c. myers.

The council executive committee established metrics to measure success, set deliberate objectives to meet those goals, and monitored progress using a scorecard.

“With the proper focus on outcome, our success soared,” Finch recalls. 

“When I retired from the executive committee we were the largest of the six CUNA Councils, earned an impressive Net Promoter Score, broke our own conference-related records, steadily offered more educational opportunities, and were strong financially,” she adds.

Ultimately, all six Councils adopted the scorecard approach and the Council Forum uses it as a tool to monitor success.

Moving on
Her mission now is to bring strategy and finance together. She wants credit union leaders to think differently about how to reach the next level of performance.

“Credit unions are facing a crucial time,” says Finch, “and they must shout from the rooftops the value they bring to consumers’ financial world. If we continue to do the right thing by our members and educate consumers as to why they should become members, the opportunity to make a difference is endless.”

That could be why Finch holds a special place for rocker Jon Bon Jovi. “My 14-year old rocks out when he hears ‘Living on a Prayer.’ Aside from his music, Bon Jovi passionately supports worthy causes—definitely a rock star who has made a difference in many lives!”

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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