Dan McGowan, sometimes stumbles over his words when discussing the credit union movement and his work at Tallahassee, Fla.-based Envision Credit Union.
"Pardon me. I get excited about these things, and my mouth and brain sometimes don't always get into the same gear," said the 51-year-old senior vice president/chief financial officer.
McGowan has much to be excited about. Since joining the $202 million Envision two years ago, he has executed a veritable Sherman's March through the institution's financial systems.
His goal was deceptively simple: make Envision Credit Union among the best in financial analysis and efficient presentation of financial information.
"During the job interview with Envision's CEO and leadership team, I wasn't shy about setting grandiose goals for myself and the credit union. It was my intent to establish Envision's accounting department as among the best in the industry," said McGowan. "We wanted to provide insight and meaning from the numbers."
McGowan has launched and completed more than 30 projects, big and small, over the past two years. Some involve leveraging an interface and macros between office PCs and the mainframe database to reduce manual inputting of general ledger data from a number of sources and reduce subsequent inputting errors.
McGowan's major accomplishments include an account trend analysis tool that enables management to analyze trends for any general ledger account or group of accounts.
Another major project involved the development of a loan-loss algorithm. McGowan and his team determined the correlation between the balance sheet provision and write-offs in a subsequent 12-month period. The goal was to refine the allowance calculation process, seeking to accurately predict the allowance value for the next 12 months of write-offs.
An algorithm was developed that quantifies and documents the logic of the entire process. The approach is low maintenance, establishes an objective, dynamic floor allowance for each period, and provides an early warning of delinquency changes.
When asked which of his 30-plus improvement projects has had the most impact or which one he is most proud of, McGowan demurred.
"These questions are actually more difficult to respond to than you might think. It's not so much that there's really one which I'm most proud or one which had the most impact," he said.
"The incremental benefit of each individual accomplishment may not always be glaringly obvious in itself, but the cumulative effect over time can make a very big impact on the success of the department and the credit union," he added.
"Or, for a sports analogy, it's always nice to hit an occasional home run, but a lot of base hits add up, too."
McGowan joined Envision Credit Union in November 2006. He grew up in Geneva, Ala., a small town of about 5,000 near the Alabama-Florida state line, about a two-hour drive from Tallahassee. He has been married to his wife, Carol, for 27 years, and they have two adult sons.
McGowan received his MBA from Troy State University, Troy, Ala., and his BSBA from Edison State College in Trenton, N.J.
He said he cut his financial services teeth in commercial banking with InterFirst in Texas. After that stint, he went to an investment bank.
Then, McGowan spent a number of years in the health care, government contracting, manufacturing and software service industries.
"Financial services was still my first love, and I welcomed the opportunity to get back into it with a large regional bank, Regions Financial in Alabama, where I worked for four years," said McGowan.
"In evaluating my future career prospects there, it became apparent that my options for upward mobility were somewhat limited, and I was also frustrated with the short-term decision making aimed at meeting quarterly stock market analyst expectations." Then, credit unions came to his attention.
"It appeared to me that credit unions were practicing traditional community banking much better than the bankers were," said McGowan. "Not long afterwards, a recruiter called in search of candidates for a credit union position, so I jumped at it and haven't looked back for a moment at the decision to join the credit union movement."
Envision President/CEO Ray E. Cromer Jr. credited McGowan with helping the credit union meet today's challenges.
"Survival during these unprecedented modern times of economic stress" is the greatest challenge, said Cromer. "Dan, with his knowledge and skill at analyzing systems and work-flow relationships via technology and software applications, has streamlined many internal procedures, saving countless hours of time."
McGowan said that Cromer's encouragement and support have been instrumental in his success. He also lauded Envision members, who "have consistently demonstrated an enviable commitment to financial responsibility."
"Although we have a six-county community field of membership now, our credit union was founded in 1954 by 10 local school teachers who pooled their resources, $75 in a cigar box, to charter a credit union for local educators," he explained. "As a result, we have deep roots in the educational community, and the character and integrity of those members reflect in our financials."
Although McGowan sees opportunities this year in the budding mortgage refinancing boom and in increasing Envision's credit card portfolio, he is less than sanguine about 2009 prospects for the industry.
"Given the economic climate we're expecting for the year ahead, I think most of us just want to get through the year with as little damage as possible," McGowan said. "On a more positive note, 2009 will be a year of positioning ourselves to take advantage of the opportunities which arise from such times as these."