The Nuts and Bolts of Credit Union Finances for Volunteers

From establishing direction and policy to implementing new initiatives, volunteer boards of directors are, in many ways, the engine that drives a credit union. But many volunteers come to the credit union movement without an extensive background in finance.

To bridge this gap, Jim This, president and CEO of the Paragon Group, is one of a number of featured presenters at the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) Volunteers’ Conference who will work to make sure that credit union volunteers are as prepared as possible to move their credit unions forward.

Scheduled for June 14-16 at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Wash., the conference kicks off with a pre-conference session led by This entitled, “Financial Essentials for Non-Financial People.”

“All the volunteers need to have a good grasp of the basics of the financials, and this was reinforced a year and a half or two years ago by the NCUA, who said, ‘As a matter of fact, you have to demonstrate a capability with that,’” This said. “This program will help fulfill both the knowledge need and the paperwork need for the NCUA.”

This said that the session begins by outlining the function of some key forms credit unions can use to analyze the current state of affairs, such as the difference between an income statement versus a balance sheet.

From there, This said the session typically goes over a number of the key ratios that everyone in the credit union should be familiar with, learning how they are computed, what they mean and how they affect one another. The final piece is to learn how to take a look at the overall well-being of a credit union.

“We use a spread analysis, which takes a look at, over a period of time, how the credit union made money and how it spent money and how it had to reserve money and then how it got to the bottom line,” This said. “It’s a real good way for people who don’t deal with it every day to take a look at, ‘Well, what really did happen to us? How did we get to the net income number that we got to? And if we’re going to try to affect it positively for next year, what are we going to have to do? What are the options that we have?”

This said that, ultimately, his role at the conference is to help board members understand how each piece of the credit union’s finances affects the other, helping board members better plan for the future and understand the implications of their decisions.

“What we’re really looking for is so that people understand how the financials relate to one another and how movement in one affects another piece of it,” This said. “Everybody’s been concerned recently with, ‘How do we increase our net income number?’, and then [with] how that affects our net worth ratio. So, what we want to take a look at here is, ‘How do these numbers work, and which are the ones you can really control at the board level?’”

Interested in Learning More?

In today’s rapidly changing financial services climate, credit unions are finding they must be able to rely upon the leadership skills of their elected officials. The NWCUA’s 2012 Volunteers’ Conference prepares credit union volunteers to work efficiently, make informed decisions and improve credit union performance by understanding key issues that are impacting the industry. This regionally unique event offers national-quality learning for both new and experienced volunteers, with the valued convenience of a regional location.

Learn more about both of Jim This’ Volunteers’ Conference sessions and find registration information on the NWCUA’s website.


Questions? Contact Training Programs Coordinator Yuri Jung: 206.340.4817,

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