Shari Weber has been a part-time accountant and product manager. But she never thought she’d add chief financial officer (CFO) to her resume.
“My path to CFO was not a straight line,” says Weber, CFO at $934 million asset Honor Credit Union in Berrien Springs, Mich.
Weber, a member of the CUNA Finance Council Executive Committee, started as Honor’s chief accounting officer. Her background in product management—as well as a master of business administration in finance and economics—allowed her to maintain a constant orientation toward how strong financial performance benefits members.
Having a broad knowledge base and skill set aided Weber when she became the credit union’s CFO.
Steven Arbaugh had a similar experience. He took on the CFO role at $3.6 billion asset SECU in Linthicum, Md., in 2007, after being a banker for almost 30 years.
“Previously, my tasks were primarily accounting oriented—creating financial assessments and tending to asset/liability management,” says Arbaugh, chair of the CUNA Finance Council Executive Committee. “These days I use my financial skills much more than my accounting skills."
Accounting is a system for the delivery of financial information, whereas finance requires knowledge of banking, economics, and financial markets. Skills such as communication and collaboration also are important for finance leaders, according to “Driving Strategic Change,” a white paper from the CUNA Finance Council.
“Financial leaders who collaborate with colleagues to design the strategic roadmap, steer the credit union through critical operational shifts, and reinforce the rallying cry for strategic change demonstrate their support for a corporate environment in which people are moving forward together,” the white paper reports.
Arbaugh immediately realized his need for a wider span of knowledge.
"I became involved in enterprise risk management throughout the organization, as well as compliance risks, reputation risks, liquidity risks, and data analytics in support of the whole enterprise,” he says. “The big question for me was, 'Are we properly pricing products to meet our financial goals?'"