Fun With Numbers
'She’s remarkably cool under pressure.'
For management, numbers and accounting can be a boring part of the job.
Thanks to Arlene Bernard, that’s not the case at XCEL Federal Credit Union in Bloomfeld, N.J.
Bernard has served as the credit union’s chief financial officer only about a year and a half. But she’s already having a big impact and quickly earning the respect of senior leadership.
“Normally, it’s a pretty boring department,” says Tom Quigley, XCEL Federal’s director of marketing. “She explains the financials with such passion that we all actually care about accounting.”
So much so that Bernard would be an expert at the Jeopardy category “Fun with Numbers,” Quigley says. “She loves accounting and all things numbers,” he says.
Previously, Bernard served for 16 years as CEO of Saint Vincent’s Employees Federal Credit Union in New York, which merged with another institution. Since coming to XCEL Federal, Bernard has had a lot on her plate, including:
• Dealing with the aftermath of an employee embezzlement;
• Incorporating three new staff members in a department of four;
• Handling some difficult NCUA guidelines; and
• Working with many technology efforts.
The credit union is ahead of most similar-sized institutions technology-wise, says Quigley.
XCEL Federal drives its own ATMs, offers a mobile app loaded with extras, and is starting a wholly owned credit union service organization.
“All this means a lot of work for her,” says Quigley. “But she’s remarkably cool under pressure and handles the mundane job of accounting with grace and dignity.
“She could be the MVP here,” he continues. “She’s been our most valuable employee.”
Bernard has accomplished a lot in a short time at XCEL Federal, Quigley says. She has improved and ensured timely vendor payments, streamlined the entire accounting department, boosted morale, and skillfully managed the credit union’s relationship with regulators.
“Oh, and she’s a pleasure to work with,” Quigley says. She’s dedicated, motivated, and compassionate, he adds, as well as down-to-earth—basically a great coworker to have on your side.
“She is smarter than me, but she doesn’t let on,” Quigley jokes.