2017 Professional of the Year

2017 Award Recipient

Paul Meissner, Senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer, Credit Union of America, Wichita, KS

2017 CFO Professional of the Year Award Winner

The Professional of the Year Award was presented to Paul Meissner, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Credit Union of America, Wichita, Kansas.

Meissner’s most basic objectives are to contribute to the success of an organization which genuinely cares about serving its members, where he has the opportunity to learn and adapt to evolving challenges. As a student taking Managerial Accounting, he was attracted to the challenge of drawing meaning out of financial or other data, to improve decision-making. Meissner was introduced to credit unions while in college, and was attracted to the concepts of a cooperative financial institution. Having started with a tiny credit union, and moved to a medium-sized (at the time!) credit union, and now working for the second-largest credit union in Kansas, he can attest to the challenge of balancing and applying good “business” practices and decisions, while seeking to remain member-centered. Meissner believes that contributing to sound financial management can be consistent with valuing members and delivering good service and value.

Through his career in credit unions, beginning in 1975, Meissner has consistently focused on learning and applying that new learning, frequently figuring out how to do something which few other credit unions were doing at the time, such as creating a database in the mid-1990s to begin analyzing loan losses. He earned an MBA during a time in which he had taken on the role of President for a credit union under Section 208 Assistance to avoid liquidation. Class projects on marketing strategy and marketing research fulfilled course work, while benefiting the credit union. For a Production class, he adapted principles of production scheduling to determine the most efficient scheduling of back-office computer jobs for a new credit union in-house data system.

In recent years, he has been contacted by other credit union CFOs because an examiner recommended that they adopt some of the analysis and reporting that his credit union had developed. Examples have been cash flow & liquidity topics, and ALM policies. For their size, his credit union is often doing things, such as product profitability and branch profitability, which few peer credit unions are doing, and Meissner receives frequent requests from other credit unions to share spreadsheets or policies. He has been generous in sharing with many others over the years, and with the advent of joining the CFO Council, he has also gained valuable ideas and samples from others.

An evolving challenge has been to begin making headway with “data analytics” in ways that are actionable and provide value. Meissner developed a Financial Analyst position about 8 years ago, which has expanded to a second position, providing financial and member analysis for marketing projects and applying member & household profitability information.  They actively support the MCIF analytics, supporting the ability to identify the right offers based on a member’s specifics.

Actions such as liquidity analysis, ROI analysis, a loan pricing model, and profitability risk analytics have contributed quality information for decision-making within a team process. Sometimes it requires laying a foundation in advance, for new data and information to be received favorably enough to gain acceptance. That has been the case with ROI analysis, and with loan analytics which are showing that higher LTV vehicle loans, even to Tier 1 borrowers, are “probably” underpriced for the risk level.

As an example of how their financial area helped reach key credit union goals, back in 2015, their summer lending campaign was leveling off early, short of their growth goals. In finance, the credit union initiated use of an early version of their loan pricing model to demonstrate that pricing could be lowered while still maintaining profitability. That data-based rate reduction gave a boost which helped the credit union meet that year’s loan growth goal.

For the future, one of the things he hopes to assist in promoting is blending information about product profitability and member/household profitability to develop some form of relationship-based pricing for their members.  His credit union has been in the mid-90th percentile of the Callahan Return of the Member ratings, and are proud of that achievement. Financial management has played a consistent team role in the success, strength, and stability of his credit union.