David Root, owner of Root and Associates CPA, was recently named CEO of Coventry Credit Union after 20 years as the credit union’s chief auditor.
Root promises newly enhanced products and services, as well as continued efforts in customer service. He recently spoke to PBN about his role in the community, his relationship with Coventry Credit Union and the benefits of smaller financial institutions.
PBN: Generally, what are the benefits of a small institution like Coventry Credit Union versus bigger, corporate banks?
ROOT: Most banks are owned by shareholders who demand a certain return on their investment. Coventry Credit Union is owned by its member depositors. As a result, we are less profit driven, and are able to provide our members with personal one-on-one service that they would not receive from a large financial institution. While we are in fact a small credit union in terms of asset size, we are large enough to provide our members with just about all of the services available at larger banks, but at a lower cost.
PBN: How does your longstanding relationship with Coventry Credit Union affect your new role as CEO?
ROOT:It has significantly shortened the learning curve, as I came into this job fully aware of how the Credit Union operates. For almost 20 years I served as the CPA for not only Coventry Credit Union, but for many other credit unions throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. I think that this experience has been very beneficial to me in my new position, as I have seen what works and what does not at other credit unions and financial institutions.
PBN: When it comes to social responsibility versus fiscal responsibility, how do you walk this line when you have a finance background, but have to answer to your customers in the community?
ROOT: First and foremost my job, as well as that of our entire staff, is to protect the deposits entrusted to us by our membership. Fiscal responsibility is a priority and is required by our regulators, both our deposit insurer, the National Credit Union Administration, as well as the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation. However, as a credit union, our philosophy is based upon helping and serving our members and the communities in which they live – this has remained a constant at Coventry Credit Union since 1950 and is not going to change under my leadership.
PBN: How does 20 years as the institution’s chief auditor play a role?
ROOT: Over the past 20 years, I have been involved in setting the goals outlined in our strategic plan and have discussed with the board my ideas on how to achieve those goals. The most enjoyable aspect of my new position is that formally, as a consultant, I could only recommend courses of action. Now, as CEO, I have the ability to implement policies that I feel are in the best interests of the Credit Union and its members.
PBN: What type of impact will you play as Coventry Credit Union enters the new year?
ROOT: As we move forward in 2012, I am fully aware of the continuing changes in the banking industry and the current state of our local economy. Similar to many of our peers in Rhode Island, we will need to and have in fact made some changes in our structure to ensure that the credit union remains competitive. We will continue to invest in our internal systems so we can offer the next generation of banking products our members have come to expect from us.