Rachel Pross loves a challenge. She hasn’t been disappointed. Under her watch, $1.2 billion asset Maps Credit Union now serves some 600 cannabis-related businesses, a 1,900% increase from the time Pross joined the Salem, Ore.-based credit union in 2016 as vice president of risk.
Now Maps’ chief operations officer, she has become the go-to resource for information on how credit unions can manage the risks associated with serving cannabis-related entities.
“It’s been exciting to be part of something so innovative and impactful,” Pross says. “My team is phenomenal. We often share our insights with financial institutions across the country, and I’ve had the opportunity to present our program to other audiences ranging from law enforcement personnel to Congress.” Pross has testified to the House Financial Services Committee and Senate Banking Committee on behalf of CUNA.
Pross, who serves on the executive committee of the CUNA Compliance & Risk Council, manages a risk and compliance staff of 19. Fifteen of them are dedicated to cannabis-related banking. She also oversees accounting/finance, information technology/security, governmental affairs, audit, and a credit union service organization.
An avid backpacker, Pross also challenges herself with difficult expeditions and climbs. She circumnavigated Mount Hood and climbed Mount St. Helens.
“Being in nature is my biggest source of energy,” she says.
Pross also has addressed the demands of a multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis in November 2018.
“MS has hitched a ride with me, but it’s not driving the car,” she says. “The biggest challenge has been pain management and dealing with the pandemic while on immunotherapy treatments.
“My advice for others is to listen to your gut and never give up seeking answers when something isn’t right,” she says. “It’s so much easier to handle something when you know what you’re facing and can make informed decisions about it.”
That includes business decisions about serving cannabis-related entities. Pross advises credit unions to do their homework and understand what they are getting into ahead of time in terms of risk and regulatory burden.
“Don’t try it without investing in the compliance staff necessary to handle the workload,” she says.
“Recruiting staff once the workload is a mountain, or FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) reports are nearing their deadlines, isn’t the way to go.”