From the editor
In March, most of you made the tough decision to close branches and offices and send almost all employees home to work remotely. In many cases, this momentous change was implemented with notice of just a few days—or even hours! But you did it. You and your teams figured out how to operate in a new way, outfitted your staff with laptops and supplies, and learned how to work from home effectively. In the bigger picture, you learned that you, your employees and your institutions can flex—quickly—when the need arises.
Strong leaders realize that they need to be flexing their styles regularly, especially when it comes to communication. How you communicate on a Zoom full staff meeting is not the same as how you engage in person. Instant message or a Microsoft Teams chat allow for different styles than a phone call. After all, while you might type “BRB” you probably would speak “be right back.”
But it’s not just the medium that changes communication. The audience matters, too.
“The point is, it’s important to know your audience, whether it’s a group or one person, and appeal to their style of communication to be most effective,” says CUES member Carrie Birkhofer, CPA, CCE, president/CEO of $1.1 billion Bay Federal Credit Union, Capitola, California.
“Not flexing your style puts all the onus on the other person, rather than on the speaker as it should be,” says Susanne Biro, master coach and co-founder of Syntrina Leadership LLC. “To lead effectively, you must understand people—where they are emotionally, what they’re focused on and what you need them to understand. ... Connect with them first and then judge how to deliver the message.”
Credit unions are used to flexing when it comes to asset/liability management. And in the current situation, that flexibility is extremely necessary.
“I’m trying to make us balance-sheet neutral so we can ride out any interest-rate environment,” reports CUES member Derek Fuzzell, CPA, CMA, CSCA, CFO of $240 million PAHO/WHO Federal Credit Union, Washington, D.C. “We’re trying to increase our loan diversity, add car loans, credit card loans and home equity lines of credit, but COVID has upset those plans. It’s not a good time to try to add auto loans, so we are shortening maturities in the investment portfolio.”
Credit union finance teams should be doing four things now with ALM, advises Vincent Hui, a managing director at CUES strategic partner for technology services Cornerstone Advisors, Scottsdale, Arizona. Read more about them in “Facing Finances.”