California CFOs Look Beyond Number Crunching: Print Preview
At any credit union, the role of the chief financial officer is a tough one. He or she must create a roadmap to financial success by setting the right pricing strategy, effectively managing credit risk and streamlining operational costs. But in California, where high unemployment, an unsteady housing market and loan losses became a standard over the past few years, developing a strategy for the long-term growth of a credit union has been especially hard.
The California credit union chief financial officer’s job continues to be a difficult one in 2012, said Diana Dykstra, president/CEO for the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. At the end of 2011, credit unions in California saw increases in net income, membership and net worth ratios but suffered from loan portfolio challenges. Dykstra said, those trends are continuing, with evidence of growth in assets and shares coupled with contracting loan portfolios.
Entering a chief financial officer role in the Golden State is a challenge for newcomers, but even the officers who have worked at California credit unions for decades have had to make tweaks to their job priorities in recent years. Patelco Credit Union CFO Scott Waite, Credit Union Times' 2010 CFO of the Year and who has been with the $3.7 billion credit union for 18 years, said it’s equally important for California credit union financial officers to work on shaping core business as it is for them to manage credit risk.
“It’s been very challenging,” he said. “A lot of credit unions in California suffered larger credit losses because of the economic and financial crisis of the last three years, and we’ve been placing a lot of focus on understanding what we need to do to make sure our financial performance doesn’t start slipping backward.”