I have aÂ notoriouslyÂ nefarious relationship with my CFO. He and I are constantly picking on each other like brother and sister. From fake spiders in his Wall Street Journal to stolen office possessions taken to conferences to some classic public humiliation, it’s a never-ending battle of wits. (In fact, if you are looking for some good pranks to play on yours - here was my list from earlier in the year. (WARNING: Stay away from this list during budget time.)
As much as I hate to admit it, while he is constantly picking on my marketing math, touchy feely presentations and crazy ideas, he has challenged me to become a better, more accountable steward of my members’ money.
And sometimes his passion for the bottom line can accompany my passion for our brand in a rare accord. So, here are some empowering lessons worth taking the time to learn from your favorite bean-counter:
The State of the Economy: There is no one in the credit union more glued to the pulse of the economy than a CFO. He can tell me the unemployment rate, the state of the housing market and somehow has a telepathic connection to Ben Bernanke himself. Best of all, he can help predict how the economy will affect the demand for our services.
Product Profitability: Not all products and services are created equal. So how can you bring inÂ the income of one to provide the additional benefits of another? He can help decide where it makes sense to concentrate efforts to provide members with a healthy and efficient return on their money.
Key Metrics that Matter: While there is an alphabet soup of metrics to memorize, it’s important to know what Â the credit union uses to truly measure its health. What keeps him up at night, and what role does marketing play in the big picture?
Historical Perspective: My CFO is a data junkie and has faithfully kept years of brass tacks that date back prior to his birth. It’s interesting to see how history has repeated itself over and over, and how product trends that support life cycle hunches can form the basis of a good argument for innovation. And it’s not only fascinating information, but it helps tell the credit union’s story.
Return on Investment: Though we may disagree on how to calculate it, he’s a great resource to know the true yield on products and to support the case that marketing can be a grand investment, not just a line item expense.
While you are in his office learning from him, it’s also a great opportunity to teach him the long term benefits of a strongly differentiated brand, an engaged staff, and a good marketing strategy. And while you are there you might as well steal his calculator for your next big prank.