Financial Management Begins Financial Understanding

As many of you may also find yourselves, I am a life-long learner. I enjoy taking classes, pursuing higher education and working towards and completing certifications to keep my knowledge fresh, interact with peers and foster dialog regarding complexities in my field.

When I began working in the credit union industry I found my co-workers in the credit union were often also pursuing higher education and certifications in their respective fields. Even though we had the same goals in mind regarding efficiency, service and growth we were coming from different perspectives based on our areas of expertise and I sometimes found it challenging to communicate my points from a ‘numbers’ versus ‘service’ lens.

My goal is to share my love of numbers and metrics with front line management of the credit union and to show them how financial concepts play a critical role in the work they do. Not long ago an opportunity presented itself. I was meeting with a Branch Manager about her budget and discussing the economic concept of supply and demand regarding certificate rates and other factors such as competitors’ rates and yields available through riskier investments.  She immediately grasped the concept and quickly had the opportunity to share this information with a long-time member who provided her with the perfect scenario when he lamented that he longed for the generous certificate rates offered in the early 1980s.

Wow – this was my “Aha!” moment in how to discuss financial concepts with front line managers and the impact I could have directly benefiting our members. This led to my journey with the FARE framework. By discussing the important topics of Finance, Accounting, Risk and Economics (FARE) in relatable terms, I will be able to clearly communicate my points regarding accounting and finance to my peers in Lending, Branch Management, Marketing and other departments focused on member service.

The FARE Framework series is designed to make these complex financial topics digestible allowing financial  and nonfinancial professionals to communicate more effectively to serve our members. Course participants will learn first-hand the impact their branches or departments have on the financial success and future of our Credit Union – empowering them to put this knowledge to use as they learn how each of the FARE subjects relates to the success and strategy of our organization.

At Northwest Federal, we are launching this course for our vice presidents and assistant vice presidents in the coming weeks and will follow with managers, assistant managers, team leads, and rising stars over the next few months. We are investing time in the FARE series as a tool for our employees to continue to build for the future success of our Credit Union while developing additional skill sets for individuals participating in the courses.

But the FARE Framework series is not designed only as a tool for talent development for the employees at Northwest; employees at any credit union can benefit from the program. The course was designed in such a way that nearly any finance, accounting, or risk professional could deliver this course and help to share their knowledge around these vital topics.

While I am excited to share the FARE framework with my co-workers, I am equally as enthusiastic to see the FARE series in action at other credit union. It has been a great honor to hear from several Chief Financial Officers and financial professionals who, watched my Next Top Credit Union Executive video and, want to implement the FARE series in their credit unions.

As we expose our front-line leaders to new concepts and ways of thinking through continual learning, we will retain the talent we have, attract new talent, and benefit our members which will help sustain the Credit Union Industry in the long-run. And that’s exciting!

Learn more about the FARE Framework and my project.

Derek Fuzzell, CPA, CMA
Vice President of Finance
Northwest Federal Credit Union

Derek Fuzzell