Brian Kelbley
Brian Kelbley, Sun Federal Credit Union

Empathy and informed effort

Brian Kelbley named CUNA Finance Council’s 2021 Rising Star.

May 26, 2021

Success is rooted in more than just hard work.

It’s more about “how you work hard,” says Brian Kelbley, vice president of finance and business services at $624 million asset Sun Federal Credit Union in Maumee, Ohio. That effort is more effective when you’re also learning about the best ways to approach issues.

Kelbley was named the CUNA Finance Council’s 2021 Rising Star during the CUNA Finance Council Virtual Conference.

Since graduating from Bowling Green State University with a finance degree in 2011 and starting as an auditor with American Share Insurance, Kelbley has been studying industry issues. 

In 2014, he moved on to Accolade Investment Advisory, which performs balance sheet management for credit unions. 

“Working with a lot of credit unions has let me see how they approach problems differently,” Kelbley says.

After completing his MBA at Capital University in 2017, Kelbley took the post at Sun Federal in 2018.

His accumulated knowledge of credit union practices has allowed Kelbley to confidently make necessary decisions quickly during the past year. 

‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’

Before initiating changes, he typically likes to “gather lots of information.” But when rates were falling early in 2020, he reacted to the fast market movement by “locking in some longer-term assets” by keeping mortgages in Sun Federal’s portfolio.

Leadership in finance isn’t just about balance sheets, though, and Kelbley follows one of the best pieces of career advice he’s received: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

His team faced new pressures during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including quickly launching Paycheck Protection Program loans and working remotely. Kelbley says he “tried to provide as much support and flexibility as possible.”

CUNA Finance Council

Moreover, in early 2020, Sun Federal completed a merger with two smaller credit unions. 

“Everyone had a lot of balls in the air,” he recalls, making cooperative teamwork essential.

Sun Federal’s culture is in sync with Kelbley’s “work smart” philosophy.

Since arriving at Sun Federal, Kelbley has streamlined finance processes with initiatives such as digitizing expense reporting.

In the future, Kelbley wants to combine the finance and accounting departments, a move that will allow cross-functionality for team members and enhance efficiency.