The ACU Employee Spotlight series features some of the many people that work at the credit union, highlighting how their unique roles help members and the community every day.
Even new employees to ACU can make a big impact right away within their role, department and community. That’s certainly the case for Kristin Richard, a recent addition to the Community Financial Centre (CFC) team at ACU.
As part of the CFC team, Kristin works with small businesses including start-ups, non-profits, co-ops and social enterprises to develop personalized financial solutions that can help them secure financing. Her ability to connect with business clients and understand their needs and challenges is a reflection of her community-driven values. And when it comes to rest and relaxation away from the office, she follows a helpful finance tip to save for adventurous vacation getaways! (Keep reading to learn how she does it.)
Let’s get to know Kristin a bit more, how she got into a career in the financial industry, and the ways she hopes to evolve with the community going forward.
Getting to know Kristin:
Question (Q): How long have you worked at ACU?
I’ve worked at ACU for almost three months!
Q. Describe a “day in the life” of your role.
As a Community Account Manager, I am in a lot of member meetings — either at the branch or at the member’s business or organization. Personally, I prefer to meet my members at their place of business since it allows me to get a better understanding of their operations and industry. I always learn something new when I get out of the office to meet a member.
I also go to a fair amount of community events and ensure I’m active in my community. And when I’m back at my desk, I’m replying to member requests and working on annual reviews or new requests.
Q. What’s a great financial tip you learned over the years that was a surprising help?
Saving a bit every paycheque! You won’t believe how quickly even $20 per paycheque will add up. Putting a little money away each pay period has helped me save for other things in life such as travel — one of my passions.
I have a travel account and last year I went to Europe for three weeks. It was definitely an experience because I went by myself to five countries. My favourite destination was Switzerland with its majestic mountains, followed by Croatia in close second with its awe-inspiring islands. Both countries have magical landscapes featuring amazing waterfalls, and I couldn’t believe how beautiful these two counties were.
Now, I’m saving for my next trip. On the top of my long list of places to visit are South East Asia, Peru (to hike the Inka trail), and a little closer to home — Churchill — to see the polar bears and beluga whales.
Q. What’s a fun fact about yourself that most people wouldn’t know?
This past year I fought in a charity boxing match in support of Big Brother Big Sisters, and I raised over $2,700. The organization is extra special to me because I’m a Big Sister with the organization. My little sister’s name is Autumn and her favourite things to do together include driving around the city looking at big houses and getting Starbucks.
Helping others kickstart their careers:
Q.How did you get started in the financial industry?
I wanted to work in financial services since high school, and back then, I wanted to be a personal financial planner.
I got my start in the financial services industry during my second year of university, as a summer student at a big bank in their commercial banking department. This experience helped me realize I liked working with business owners much more than personal investments.
After my second summer internship, I was able to secure a full-time job, which led to amazing opportunities — and eventually to ACU and my current role.
Q. What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
If you’re interested in business banking and helping business owners achieve their financial goals, then this may be a great role for you. Having a mentor is a great start — someone you can relate to and who is able to give you direction on your career.
Also, be prepared to take on other opportunities before coming into a role like mine. I love my job because I can challenge myself every day, and to be successful you have to be ready to constantly learning. Businesses are always changing and developing new ideas. As an account manager, you need to learn your members’ businesses and understand their industry.
Q. What brings you the most joy from being part of ACU?
I love working with a group of people that are all focused on and dedicated to the same goal — which is helping our members and the community.
The future of our community
Q. What excites you about the positive changes happening in our community?
It excites me when I see people empowering each other — especially women coming together. I recently attended a national Métis women’s conference in Ottawa. We talked about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, financial wellness, strengthening Métis women’s’ entrepreneurship, traditional knowledge and education. It was so amazing to hear from women across the nation about how we can better the lives of Métis women in western Canada.
Also, I think it’s important for young people to get a voice in the community. Last year, I attended an Indigenous economic development conference in Enoch Cree Nation, Alberta. I worked with an amazing group of young individuals from across Canada to strategize new ideas for Indigenous economic development in the form of a case competition. Although my team didn’t win, we heard so many great ideas on how we can impact economic development in Indigenous communities.