Humphrey-Anderson Focuses on Relevance: Women to Watch
Bonnie Humphrey-Anderson is doing her part to change the perception that CFOs are only interested in the low-cost solutions.
“It's about thinking in terms of return on investments not just in the short term but the long term,” said the EVP/CFO at Corvallis, Ore.-based OSU Federal Credit Union.
Humphrey-Anderson leans toward the big picture approach. That means taking into consideration everything from efficiencies to technology that will help the $864 million credit union deepen member relationships.
“Ultimately it's about how do you keep the credit union relevant in the future for our members and employees,” Humphrey-Anderson said.
Yes, the CFO in her wishes she had the answers to such issues that face all credit unions, like how to create more consistent, ongoing revenue streams that are not driven by the economy, but looking ahead, taking steps to ensure the relevancy of the credit union and the industry as a whole, trumps all.
She also believes within that search for relevancy lies a great deal of opportunity for both.
“For us, we’re thinking about how does the organization need to change as we grow in size,” she said. “How do we keep our culture alive and thriving as we expand covering a larger geographic area and the number of employees grow? Do we have the right structure? What process do we need to have in place?”
Since joining the credit union some 24 years ago first as a member, then an employee, Humphrey-Anderson has seen her employer more than triple in asset size. In her 13 years as CFO, OSU Federal has had an average annual growth rate of some 10.77%.
“I always liked the concept of a credit union because you never have to choose between stakeholders and the members, they are one and the same, and it's wonderful knowing that every decision made is based on doing right by the member,” Humphrey-Anderson said.
“I knew I wanted to be in the financial/accounting world but I didn't know I’d end up at a credit union. I discovered I’m exactly where I needed to be and it's been such a pleasure to be a part of this industry. I have been given the opportunity to really explore, learn and work across different areas that prepared me to move into my current role. I would say to anyone, to always volunteer to be part of a committee or project. It will not only help build your skill set but also your network.”
She added that women in particular should never miss an opportunity to voice their opinion and be a part of the conversation.
“Too often women sit on the sidelines,” Humphrey-Anderson said. “Always listen first, then make a positive contribution that adds value and helps further the conversation.”
With the organization aligned under the strategic driver of service wrapped in convenience and the member experience, she took over the reins of OSU Federal's investment services program in 2003. For 11 years, the team has been able to build the program, which has more than tripled in size of assets under management.
“I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. We have a very collaborative culture here and as a team everyone works hard to help move the organization forward,” she said.
She admits it has taken time but has been a worthwhile experience.
“We switched to a different broker-dealer and worked hard to find great staff with the right personality. Having advisers who work well in our culture has been the key to the program being successful,” she said. “It goes back to identifying and developing products that make sense for our financial institution to offer.”
Ensuring the member experience is consistent from the service level perspective is also an ongoing process. Last year, The Oregonian newspaper recognized OSU Federal as one of the area's top 15 mid-sized employers.
“I try to always believe the best in others and have a foundation in trust,” said Humphrey-Anderson. “In this collaborative environment, you have to respect and trust in the team. It's also important to allow for failure because that is where success comes from. People will push harder, work harder, feel empowered simply because someone believes in them.”
With an open door policy and full transparency, she works hard to be a good role model by walking the talk. From sharing expertise and developing staff to setting clear expectations and taking the time to recognize staff, Humphrey-Anderson believes everyone wants the opportunity to be seen and heard.
“I can't stress the importance education and development across the organization. The more our employees understand and more expertise they have the better we function as a team,” she said.
Given the speed of change in everything from payments to compliance, the industry can't afford to not pool resources to better compete, she said.
“I think there's been more competition in the last few years from non-bank providers. There are a lot more people out there finding ways to move money around for consumers as well as offer value cards,” Humphrey-Anderson said. “The competitive field keeps getting bigger and with the increased regulations and compliance, a lot of smaller credit unions will be hurting if not devastated. We need to share more resources with each other, rather than looking at other credit unions as our competition. It's not just about products and services but also identifying and developing the next generation of leaders as well.”
She added awareness of the credit union difference as another challenge.
“So many consumers still believe that credit unions are not as convenient as banks, yet we have a shared branching network across the country,” she said. “We have to help consumers really understand just how convenient we can be. Who better to tell our story than credit unions? It's hard for us to share those stories, but it's important to break out of our comfort zone not just to educate consumers but legislators as well.”