Steve Arbaugh earned the CUNA Finance Council’s 2022 Professional of the Year Award for his extended body of work as senior vice president of finance and chief financial officer (CFO) at $5.0 billion SECU of Maryland, in Linthicum.
A CUNA Council member for 11 years, including serving on the Finance Council’s executive committee and helping found the Risk & Compliance Council, Arbaugh is a proponent of networking, including creating a roundtable for finance professionals to keep in touch and share information with each other.
Arbaugh, who has also been on the advisory board of Towson University and was chairman of the Maryland Council on Economic Education, recently spoke with CUNA News about his career accomplishments, tips for finance professionals, and the importance of enjoying what you do professionally.
Steve Arbaugh: I spent 30 years in commercial banking prior to joining SECU in 2008. They happened to be looking for a treasurer and somebody to run asset/liability management at the time.
It was such a welcome relief to join the credit union industry. When I discovered SECU, I thought, “This is really what I want to do to take the next step in my career.” I knew very little about the industry, so one of the first things I did was join the CUNA Finance Council to develop a network of peers and learn about the credit union business model.
The biggest benefit of belonging to the Finance Council is the relationships I’ve built over the years. I have CFO friends all over the country, and it's such a close group of finance professionals. You can pick up the phone and call any of them, at any time, for advice.
A: Bill Kennedy was the founder of this and came up with the idea of “How we take the work that we're doing on a national level in the CUNA Finance Council and bring that more locally?”
During my time on this roundtable, I moderated the sessions. I'd spend the first hour talking about what we were doing at SECU and getting people to discuss what was going on at their respective organizations. We’d have open dialogue, a vendor would speak, and we’d wrap up the day.
We had up to 80 people from Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Virginia attending these meetings. Bill and I ran the roundtable for six years until recently turning it over to our peers. It was very rewarding because we were able to help a lot of people and build meaningful relationships with like-minded individuals.
A: My accomplishments over the years, what we were able to do—even during the pandemic—keeping people connected during a hard time, and for the work that I’ve done in the community. I think it was a combination of all those things and a big network of CFOs throughout the country who appreciate my body of work.
I don't take credit for anything. I tend to surround myself with really good people, and I had a strong board my two years running the CUNA Finance Council executive committee. I might not be the smartest person in the room, but there's a lot of people that have helped me, and I try to return the favor when I can.
I certainly appreciate being recognized. It was totally unexpected and I’m truly humbled. As I wind down my career, I'm going to continue to do as much as I can to help the Finance Council and support finance professionals.
A: First, make sure you like what you're doing. No matter what it is, you must enjoy it. Try to get internships to start building knowledge and experience on your resume. If you're fortunate enough to be able to get an internship, take it, get your foot in the door, and keep asking questions.
At the end of the day, it's all about the connections you make along the way.
A: I love the beach, riding my bicycle, and I have quite a baseball card collection.
As I move toward retirement, I want to continue to mentor others and give back to the community. I hope to serve on local boards, and I would really like to coach a girls’ high school track and field team. My son is a pole vault coach, and it would be wonderful to work with him. I was a runner growing up, and I’ve always been involved with the sport one way or another.
I have five grandchildren I love spending time with, and I want to help them become the best they can be.