Guest Commentary: Weathering Financial Storms to Preserve Our Collective Health

Rex Rollo – Executive VP / Chief Financial Officer
By Rex Rollo, Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer

In the mid-17th century, Benjamin Franklin said, “Some people are weatherwise, but most are otherwise.” Such disciplined attention to everyday events helped Mr. Franklin navigate life during stormy weather, and his sentiment illustrates that planning for the future is a key principle of long-term success. I think Ben would agree the best time to make sure you have a good umbrella is while the sun is still shining.

As we and our members have faced COVID-19’s economic fallout, America First has benefitted from preparations we’ve been making since the Great Recession, working to increase the size and strength of our reserve umbrella to temper future storms.

While the pandemic continues raging, we utilize these reserves to help those caught in the middle of the disturbance. America First has waived fees, offered short-term loans, provided payment-skipping programs and more, giving members additional time to adjust their financial situations.

Many wisely adapted to our digital channels for transactions, deposits and complete account-management needs. This has been effective in preserving staff safety by limiting branch activity and allowing visitors to keep appropriate distance. Taking advantage of government stimulus to build savings, pay loans in advance, and restructure financing has also been a wise fiscal strategy employed by our members, who are reevaluating their spending and budgets to maintain stronger positions.

At this midyear point, after enduring a full quarter of COVID-19, we are doing everything possible to build trust, just as we endeavored to do in the recession a decade ago. Earnings will naturally fall in the months ahead, as we add capital to ensure ongoing security. We are forging ahead, with yearly growth goals being met or exceeded. Prudent planning has dictated that we slow project expenditures, adjust revenue outlooks, and take cost-cutting measures. Indicators show we are seeing positive results and we’re committed to continuing these efforts.

Because of our preparation and diligence, we will weather this storm in good fashion. I believe Citizen Franklin would consider our guiding motto of people helping people to be “weatherwise” rather than “otherwise.”