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The Modern Credit Union CFO
ith increasedmarket volatility and advancing digital infrastructures appearing acrossall industries, credit unions, traditionally regional and relativelyconservative financial institutions,are emerging as one of the mosttransitional and rapidly-evolvingsubsets of the financial sector.
Their risk-averse, nonprofit sta-tuses have steadily deteriorated inthe face of changing consumer behavior and digitally-driven globaleconomies. Credit unions need tobe as adaptable and innovative astheir commercial bank counterparts to retain a stable position inthe marketplace and survive theonslaught of economic shifts.
The demands of the credit
union CFO, therefore, have mod-
ernized alongside the broader
organization. Finding the right
candidate for the job has become
In this new dawn of 21st-century
credit unions, a CFO must em-
brace many dichotomies at once:
The spirit of local, small business
and the competition of global eco-
nomic marketplaces; data-driven
examinations of financial risks and
creative strategy development;
specialized financial expertise and
a broad understanding of an entire
operation. A successful, modern
credit union CFO synthesizes old-
school accounting with new-age
technologies to actively lead the
institution, both internally and
externally, toward a better bottom
line and more lucrative position in
Technical Accounting andFinancial Reporting
Technical accounting and finan-
cial reporting have never been
high on the list of
qualifications for a
credit union CFO,
but they should be.
Not only do members
ity, but CEOs rely on
data from financial
projections to make
And with the accel-
erated rates of tech-
nology adaption and
never been a more
complex or multifac-
eted process. Accurate financial
reporting and subsequent detailed
data projections are a critical cor-
nerstone in strategic planning.
A strong technical account-
ing background was considered
less relevant for traditional credit
unions. In today’s day and age,
credit unions need a CFO with
experience in managing complex
technical accounting operations
to support sophisticated finan-
cial projections. Infusing credit
unions with strategic business
intelligence while retaining their
local roots and relationships gives
them a duality that will ease and
streamline their evolution.
Strong Internal ControlsExperience
Because of the sheer amount of
readily-accessible cash, credit
unions have always been par-
ticularly vulnerable to fraud and
embezzlement. Indeed, this pat-
tern stretches back hundreds of
years to the very beginning of
banking itself. This is perhaps the
only unchanged element of credit
unions. Too often, stories of em-
bezzlement and fraud have sur-
faced in the financial industry.
Bringing in a CFO
who can construct
and implement in-
ternal controls that
mitigate both internal
and external fraud
risks is critical.
Asset and Liability ManagementSkills
Asset and liability management,while often viewedas a regulatory requirement for creditunions, holds enormous poten-tial for financial gain. Historically,small, local credit unions wereless focused on providing significant returns and more focused onavoiding big losses. That risk-aver-sion left significant opportunitiesuntapped.
Now, in a modern, evolvingmarketplace, no credit union canafford to pass up opportunities. Amodern credit union CFO can be avaluable source of knowledge andinnovation in helping the institution understand depositor andborrower behaviors and trends,spot and capitalize on new growthopportunities, and maximize returns on capital deployment. Thetask of assisting credit unions intheir efforts to transition their asset and liability practices from adefensive, risk management strategy to an offensive money-mak-ing strategy falls on the moderncredit union CFO.
Innovative Strategic Advisorto the CEO
A modern credit union CFO de-
mands an awareness and under-
standing of, and participation in,
all aspects of credit union opera-
tions because so much of their
value is derived from acting as an
advisor to the CEO.
Deloitte’s “Four Faces of the
CFO” accurately assesses that to-
day’s CFOs should be stewards of
an organization’s mission, strong
operators, strategists and posi-
tive change catalysts. CFOs now
develop meaningful partnerships
with CEOs to establish a positive
company culture, inspire change,
create strategic and long-term so-
lutions, and improve the bottom
lines across all internal depart-
ments. Modern CFOs leverage
their experiences in daily opera-
tions as well as their financial and
technological skills to advise the
CEO on strategic decision-making
and formulating thoughtful long-
term goals and strategy.
Seeking a CFO with a thor-
ough comprehension of lending
and operations is also pivotal to
choosing someone who can serve
as a strategic advisor to the CEO.
Lending and operations lie at the
very core of credit unions, regard-
less of changing priorities and
CFO Hiring Strategies
Now more than ever, credit unions
must recognize the more complex
challenges presented to CFOs and
diversify the areas from which
they source their candidates.
Credit union-specific experience,
while helpful, pales in compari-
son to a candidate with sophisti-
cated financial management skills
and a creative, visionary approach
Finding candidates who di-
verge from traditional CFO traits,
like introversion and narrow ar-
eas of expertise, will be the most
fundamental investment credit
unions make in their future. n
Shawn ColePresident &Co-FounderCowen PartnersExecutive SearchVancouver, Wash.
Breach Clarity’s Jim VanDyke outlines strategies foraddressing data breachesand identity fraud.
Succeeding at ContentMarketing
The Bradford Group’s JeffBradford delves into fourways CUs can get started.
Taking Control ofMembers’ Wallets
Anne Legg of THRIVEStrategic Services sharesthree ways CUs can usedata to their advantage.
Cygilant’s Kevin Landtdiscusses how it can helpCUs save on costs andmaintain compliance.