Why do organizations need to become more community-focused? If you're thinking about elevating brand awareness to the next level you might find the answer to this question in our 3-step guide to be surprising.
Doing business means more than simply providing products or services to people. Companies have to embrace the idea of positively supporting and engaging with their communities. And social media platforms are the number one tool that can broadly help increase brand awareness.
Ami Myrland is the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at the Capitol Bank, a locally-owned financial institution from Madison, Wisconsin. Ami is passionate about the banking industry. As CFO, she oversees accounting, finance, IT, HR, facilities, and project management at the Capitol Bank. In today's episode, she discusses her experience as a CFO and how she's been leveraging LinkedIn as a business development tool.
In this episode, we discuss why businesses need to focus on communities, how to leverage LinkedIn to develop your brand and how a CFO can build a successful working relationship with the CMO to increase brand awareness.
Welcome back to CFO Weekly where we're talking with financial leaders about how to build efficiency in their teams, create time for strategy, and ultimately get results with your host Megan Weis. Let's jump right in.
Megan: Today, my guest is Ami Myrland. Ami serves as the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Capitol Bank in Madison, Wisconsin. Ami is responsible for the IT, human resources, and finance areas of the bank.
Prior to joining Capitol Bank, Ami held a variety of roles from auditor to controller to CFO and had experience in a variety of projects and initiatives. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and Finance from Edgewood College in Madison. She is also a member of the council for CATCH, Community Around the Children's Hospital, the chair for the executive committee for Madison's Light the Night Walk for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. On the board for the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation, and chair for the Finance Committee for Habitat for Humanity of Dane County.
In 2019, Ami was recognized as one of In Business magazine's 40 under 40 in Dane County, and in 2020, Ami was an ATHENA Young Professional Award Nominee. Ami, thank you so much for being my guest today.
Ami Myrland: Thanks, Megan. I'm looking forward to it and excited to be here.
Megan: Today we're going to be discussing your experience as a CFO and how you've been able to leverage LinkedIn as a business development tool. As someone who's always looking for ways to better utilize tools such as LinkedIn to build brand awareness, I'm really looking forward to learning from you today. Let's get started.
Megan: First, let's start with you. Tell me about your career progression and how it is that you got to where you are today.
Ami: Sure. Well, I started my banking career really in college. I worked as a teller when I was a freshman in college and then moved to a different institution in the Madison Area and worked within their product management department and focused in on how different products performed and things like that. Then after college, I went to work at Wipfli, which is a public accounting firm here in the Madison Area.
Did a stint in tax and audit in different industries, but really knew that I wanted to get back into the banking industry at its core so transitioned into the Financial Institutions Group and did some work both internal audit looking at internal processes and procedures, and then financial statement audit. I worked at the public accounting firm for about four years and I learned a ton during that time. It really proved to me that I was passionate about the banking industry.
At the time, had a client that was going through an acquisition and had a need for some additional help within their accounting department. I was doing some consulting for that client, and then that turned into a full-time job offer. I went into that bank as a senior accountant and got an opportunity to really build up the department. After their acquisition, they grew and doubled in size overnight so they had a need to really dive into a lot of their processes and procedures and internal controls and reporting and things like that. I really got to put my hands on everything, which was awesome and another great learning experience.
During my seven years at that institution, I went from senior accountant to controller, and then the president at the time retired, and our CFO was promoted to president and I was promoted to CFO. It was a great opportunity to essentially build the department from two people department and we had about eight people when I left a couple of years, well, three years ago now. They were getting ready to sell, the owner of the bank was looking to get some liquidity for his family so they were getting ready to sell, and I stumbled across an opportunity to come to Capitol Bank.
The CFO here was getting ready to retire and they reached out to me and asked if I would be interested. It felt like the right move at the time. I've been here for almost three years. In my role as CFO at Capitol Bank, I oversee accounting and finance, IT, HR, facilities, and project management. I wear a lot of hats. We're about a $480 million institution. We've got two locations, one in Madison and one in Verona. We're building a third location right now, which should open up in early February over on the east side of Madison. We're in growth mode and it's really exciting to be where we're at today and getting to learn even more as I go and continuing on in my career.
Megan: Yes, that's wonderful. Personally, I love wearing a lot of hats. It's so much more exciting to go into work every day when you get to do a lot of things.
Ami: Yes, exactly. I never really know what my day will bring and sometimes that's great and sometimes that's a little bit more difficult, but the pandemic, especially, has thrown some curveballs at us, but it's exciting, I really enjoy it.
Megan: As you look back on your career, are there any stories or moves that stand out in your mind as turning points?
Ami: Yes, as I think about this, I think each step in my career has really pushed me in new and different ways. It's given me new opportunities as I've gone through-- To me, the biggest one that has really pushed me the most and allowed me to open up with different passions and freedom has really been my move here at Capitol. When I came to the bank, they have a really strong focus on community and being involved in nonprofits and different organizations throughout the community. We have roughly 60 employees and as an institution, we sit on over 40 different boards for nonprofits in the area, which to me just speaks to our commitment to the community.
In my role here, I also get to do various different business development opportunities and things like that, that I really have a passion for. It's not your classic CFO job description of going out and doing some sales and business development. It's something that I really, really enjoy and getting the opportunity to pair the classic CFO of working on the budget and putting together financials and doing all those things with the passion of being out in the community. Joining those two things in my everyday job has really been, I think, the turning point for me, because it's allowed me to just fulfill everything that I am not just one piece or the other.
Megan: That's great. Would you consider yourself an extrovert just out of curiosity?
Ami: For the most part, I think there are little pieces that I would sometimes say introvert, but I am largely an extrovert, and most people that know me would probably say that wholeheartedly.
Megan: As you look at the role of a CFO, how would you say that that's evolved over the last decade or so?
Ami: I think it's an interesting question. I certainly think that CFOs have had to become more strategic. They've had to get away from just looking at the numbers every day or looking at the balance sheet, income statement, and understanding the movements to really understanding the why behind it. They've had to lift up and look at the connection between the sales and the operations team. Make sure that they're pulling on the parallels between all of the different departments to fully understand what's driving the performance behind it.
I think CFOs are definitely shifting to become more of an educational component within the institution or organization. I find myself really trying to instead of just present where we're at from a financial aspect, also train our employees as to how we're getting there or what it means. What is ROA, ROE? What is our net interest margin? How is the bank actually making money? Because I think what that does is also allows them to understand how they fit into the overall picture. That bridge of being between the departments and what they're doing on an everyday basis and tying that back to the strategy and the execution of that strategy, to me, I think that's one of the biggest changes that I have seen over the time is that larger connection and that larger purpose.
Megan: I don't think it's possible anymore for the accounting department to function in a silo. Like it would have been maybe 10 to 15 years ago.
Ami: Agreed. Yes, wholeheartedly.
Megan: As a community bank, how does Capitol Bank compete with maybe some of the bigger US players? What differentiates them?
Ami: Sure, as a community bank and I could say that for many of the community banks that I know in our area or throughout the country, even we can do a lot of the same things that the big banks can do. The mobile apps and the Apple pay and mobile deposit business online, all of those things are things that your big banks tout and focus on but I think the important thing about a community bank is truly the word community and the tie back to the community. You come to a community bank for a relationship and when you're working with anyone here at the bank who you're working with them by their first name.
You've likely had an in-person meeting with them and if not, you've at least met them through Zoom or a phone call. When you pick up the phone to have a question or make that phone call, you're actually getting somebody to answer on the other side. I think that's something that we really take pride in is making sure that when you're doing work with us, who we are, and we know who you are. I think that really helps from a lot of different aspects. It helps with the customer satisfaction, but it can also help with fraud attempts. I think about a situation where we had a phishing email that was sent over to us by one of our "customers," that wanted to add somebody to their account.
They sent the email to do this and because we know our customer and we knew that that was outside of the normal procedure, that person would've taken, we were able to catch some potential fraud on their account. I think every bank has community bank or larger has these processes and protocols in place to hopefully catch those types of things but because we know our customers, when we have that relationship it just adds more value, I think, to the experience that those customers have with us. Then like I spoke about a little bit earlier, our ability to get involved within our community.
We're going out to the golf outings, to the galas, to the fundraisers, and all the different things that these nonprofits are giving back to the community. We're just as involved in trying to be there to give back to the community as well. We support the basketball teams in the small communities. We support the soccer clubs and the optimist club and all the different things that really makes a community and it brings the glue together with the people in that community.
Megan: Yes, I don't know how many times in the last 18 months I've said customer service is dead but it sounds like maybe I need to switch to a community bank. [laughs]
Ami: You might need to. Yes.
Megan: How have you been able to utilize social media and specifically LinkedIn to help build Capitol Bank's brand?
Ami: Sure. LinkedIn has been just a fantastic tool for both myself, but also the bank. When I talk about our community work and our nonprofit work, LinkedIn is a platform that really allows us to highlight some of that in a way that isn't bragging or touting everything that we're doing, but really just sharing the effect of bringing those relationships together and getting out in the community and doing various things. I think it helps us to highlight those connections that we're making and gives a better understanding to our customers, our shareholders our prospects anyone that we're talking to, gives them a better idea of really who we are at our core.
You can walk into the bank and have a conversation and maybe never hear about some of the things that we're doing out in the community. If you were to go look at our website or our LinkedIn profile, or our page you would likely see some of that stuff. I think it's just a way for us to really highlight that in a different manner and also promote some of the nonprofits and the groups that we're working with and spread their mission a little bit further.
Megan: Break your LinkedIn strategy down for me. What are your tactics for getting views?
Ami: Sure. I think the biggest thing is having consistent quality content. I think about right now we're going through the project of building a third branch. I go out and do construction site visits every other week. Putting up some pictures and highlighting what we're doing on a consistent basis whether it's every other week or every week, sometimes just trying to highlight some of that so that when people see it, they've got something else to tie it back to.
That being said, I think you can do too much on LinkedIn as well. It's really trying to find that happy medium for you as a person so that when you're out there you're doing, what's true to you. Another tactic of trying to increase views is highlighting and tagging other people. On LinkedIn, if you're typing in whether it's a picture and you're putting a caption to go with it, or you're just typing in a status. If you type the @ symbol and then start typing a name, you can actually tag somebody. You can type @AMI and my name would likely pop up if we're connected.
Then you can tag somebody within your post. To me, that's one of the better ways of really trying to expand your reach, because you're getting not only the people that follow you on LinkedIn, but you're capturing the people that follow the person that you're tagging as well. The same can be true with names of businesses so you can tag @Capitol Bank and you can reach further that way too. Lastly is hashtags are popular on LinkedIn.
I use the hashtag of, #communitybank quite often. Just something that if somebody's following those hashtags on LinkedIn, it's likely to pop up in their feed. I guess the other thing I would say too, is on LinkedIn all the algorithms are driven so that it's highlighting things that you're either post thing or that you're liking or commenting on. If you're out there and you're liking other people's posts and you're commenting on other people's posts, that's being seen by the people that follow you or that you're connected with. I think that will also expand the reach of the people that you're commenting on.
Really being an engaged user that way is helpful too, because I think it shows the things that you-- again, that you like and it highlights those to the top of the feed for others, so that they can have a better idea of who you are and what you're looking at. What type of quality or what type of context and stuff you're looking at. There's a lot of different ways to use LinkedIn and all of those things, I think really just help you over time to get a better feel for what you're doing and what you're highlighting within LinkedIn.
Megan: These are tactics you're using on your personal page and not necessarily Capitol Bank's LinkedIn profile?
Ami: Actually, you can use them in both places. I use them personally, our marketing person, our marketing director runs the Capitol Bank page. She uses the same tactics from time to time so they can be used in both places.
Megan: I know you've touched on this a bit by posting like events that are going on, but how does the thought leadership reach on LinkedIn differ from, in person interactions like live events? Have you been able to replace maybe some of the live events that you would've held in the last 18 to 24 months that you weren't able to, or is it really just an augmentation tool?
Ami: I personally think it's more of a compliment to what you're doing in an in-person space. To me, when you're on LinkedIn and you're going through, it's a singular point of contact that really allows you to focus in on one topic whatever that post was or whatever the article might be that somebody posted you're really focused in on whatever that content is. When you are in person, obviously you can have better conversations around wherever the conversation takes. You might jump to three or four different topics, even in a five minute conversation with somebody. What I really think is nice is with LinkedIn, you can scroll through and pretty quickly see what people are doing and what they are involved with.
Then when you see that person at an in-person event, you can really quickly draw on that experience that you that you saw on social media and say, "Hey, I saw that you were at this event. Can you tell me about it?" I think it just allows for those relationships to progress faster in a lot of ways. I can't tell you the number of times that I've been at an event and somebody who I've never met before will come up to me and say, "Hey, I saw that you're on LinkedIn. I follow you, can you tell me more about this project that you guys are working on?" It takes some of that getting to know you phase, out of that conversation and really allows you to jump in, in a different way.
To me, I've met so many new people through LinkedIn connections and things like that, that it's really been a great augmentation like you said so or those in person events and complimented it really well.
Megan: Yes, that's true. I've never really thought of that but that probably takes out some of the-- it helps for people to feel like they know you as a person and feel more comfortable coming up to you. I'm sure in certain circumstances.
Ami: It's helpful too. I just had a lunch today where you hop on their LinkedIn profile to get a refresher of okay where did I meet this person? Where did they work? What's their past been so that you can just have that history and study up almost before you have that meeting but it is helpful. I think you're walking into a meeting or an interview if you're interviewing for a new position or recruiting or something. It's really helpful in those instances as well because it just gives you that context that you can pull off of.
Megan: As a CFO how can you work with maybe your director of marketing or your CMO to increase brand awareness because typically this is an area which I would say normally falls in their arena?
Ami: Yes, I agree. However, I work really closely with our marketing director on this stuff. To me, your brand is it's more than just the logo on your building. It's really in the fibers of who you are as an organization. Your brand shows up in your board materials, in your financials, it shows up on your website, it shows up in your social media. It shows up in your culture. Your brand is embedded into who you are as an organization.
As CFO especially given that I oversee HR and IT and some of these other areas, brand reputation, and brand recognition is something that I think about a lot. Making sure that we're aligning our strategies, our goals, our messages, all back to that brand and staying true to who we are as an organization is really important. Playing between the strategic side of where are we going, and what are we doing, and who are we, and combining that with everything else that I just mentioned. Making sure that the reporting that we're putting out is reflective of who we are as an organization whether that's a shareholder letter or our board materials.
Which are largely internal but still reflective of who we are. I think understanding how the CFO role and the CMO role or the marketing director role can complement one another and work together. I think it also helps with that direct line of communication to have the marketing person understand really what the goals and directives of the institution are too? I think about budgeting. Every marketing director wants a larger budget and rightly so because it's expensive to advertise and do things.
If we have those really open and honest conversations about what does the budget look like and how can we better utilize tools like LinkedIn which is not very expensive to market on, I think that relationship just allows for those conversations to happen a little bit more freely and really allows for more success in that space.
Megan: What benefits do you think that Capitol Bank has realized from your efforts on LinkedIn?
Ami: Honestly, I think we've brought in some new followers. We certainly have expanded our reach from just a brand recognition perspective like I mentioned. I was able able to pull a few stats actually and our Capitol Bank LinkedIn page has over 1,400 followers. We saw a 33% increase in 2021, and our overall social media following has grown by over 87% just in the last year.
Ami: Our LinkedIn referral traffic to our website has increased 92% this year, and we've really had a lot more employees that are engaged on LinkedIn. I think the combination of myself and a few others within the organization that really try to post content that can be shared and liked and commented on and really focus in on making sure that we have a presence on LinkedIn. I think that's really driven a lot of those stats and those numbers.
I think the other thing too is as CFO when I'm posting something or when I'm out in space talking with somebody I'm not usually received as a salesperson. I think the barriers when somebody is talking to a "salesperson" come down a little bit and we can have different conversations and we can highlight on different things. It's building that relationship so that when they do have a banking need or they do need to call on somebody for some advice they think of us. Really that's what we're hoping for, is we're hoping for new relationships. If I get some sales out of it great but that's not my primary concern when I'm out on LinkedIn or even out in space with business development.
I really just want to drive those relationships so that we can make additional connections network a little bit. Then when the time right is hopefully we'll be their bank of choice but if not that's okay too.
Megan: Social media is such a powerful tool when used correctly, but it is a fine line between seeming salesy and just providing valuable contents.
Ami: Yes, exactly. It's a very fine line. In fact the banking industry's regulated around what we can put on social media and what we can't, so we do have to be very careful but like I said highlighting the fun stuff is perfectly acceptable.
Megan: Yes and keeps you top of mind.
Megan: What would you say to a CFO listening who maybe doesn't think that this topic pertains to them?
Ami: I would say if you think it doesn't pertain to you because maybe you're not on LinkedIn or not on social media, it likely does pertain to your organization. Having a better understanding of how it can be used or what the benefits are, can really help you engage within those strategic conversations or gain a better insight in understanding into what your marketing and sales departments are working on. I think there's no harm in knowing more and understanding.
I also truly think that if you're going to be active within those spaces, you have to be true to yourself and if it's just not who you are to put things out there like that. If you're not going to take a picture sure of yourself and your golf group and put it out there in the summer after you go golfing, that's okay. Not everybody needs to do that. Not everybody needs to write articles for LinkedIn or push a bunch of content or there's a lot of people that will take videos of themselves and talk about things out on LinkedIn.
I know that's not necessarily me, I don't do that. I think you need to stay true to who you are and if LinkedIn isn't for you then at least understand that it might be for other people and understand that there can be benefits. Again, if you're not going to play in that space that's okay, but having a good understanding of it I think is helpful regardless.
Megan: That's so true. I think no matter what you're doing it's important to be authentic.
Ami: Yes, agree.
Megan: It's crazy to think about but as we wind down this year what goals are you setting for yourself for 2022?
Ami: 2022 is going to be an exciting year. As I've mentioned a couple of times we're launching a new branch and I've been the project manager on the build. I'm really excited to get that branch up and running, get it open, have a few grand opening celebrations. That's honestly one of my biggest goals next year is just really seeing that through to success and making sure that we put everything into it that it deserves. Additionally, the bank is preparing to hit the $500 million asset milestone which if you're not in the banking world doesn't mean a whole lot, but for us, it's a milestone that changes a few things internally.
A lot of our governance and internal controls and things will be adjusting for us. We're preparing for that and as I look to next year my hope and my desire is that the world opens up a little bit more than it is right now, and we can give back doing some of our in-person events for these nonprofit groups that I'm on. Namely I'm on a board for community around the Children's Hospital or Touch is the name for it. With the Children's Hospital, everything's been on lockdown completely, you were not doing a lot just because COVID was so serious.
It would be great to have an in-person event where we can truly fundraise for the kids like we used to. Getting back to doing some more of that stuff. Again I'm really passionate about that work, I would really enjoy doing more of that next year. On the personal side of things I've got a few goals. I want to complete a triathlon next year and I might even throw a half, I'm going to say that on here and hold myself to it. I have big goals for next year and I hope that we can get to all of them. It's very exciting.
Megan: It sounds like 2022 is going to be an exciting year. I am also hopeful that it'll be more normal. Seems inevitable that any day now, it's going to get back to the way it used to be.
Ami: I hope, let's get through the holidays and we'll all cross our fingers.
Megan: Lastly. What is keeping you up at night these days as a CFO?
Ami: Really, just the uncertainty of the times that we're in right now specific to banking we have tighter margins and we're potentially looking at lower non-interest income next year which really just means banks had decent revenue off of the PDP program that was rolled out at the beginning of COVID, and that revenue is pretty much the right up at this point which is good because that means banks or businesses are out and running and doing what they need to do.
It means less revenue for us and tightened margins which just essentially means we're making less because the rate environment isn't as advantageous for banks right now. Hiring and recruiting really good employees. I think every organization has that on their list with unemployment and just the numbers for jobs the way that they are right now the economy is in a place that is unprecedented and trying to figure out how do we make sure we can continue on if we don't have the right people in the right seats?
That's a big concern. Cybersecurity is one that will always be on my mind with the increase in ransomware attacks and different phishing and all the different things that you hear about in the news. Cybersecurity is definitely towards the top. Then culture is one thing too that I always have on my mind. I want to make sure that we continue on as an organization that stays true to our values and recognizes our people and celebrates our people. Is a place that people want to work. I certainly love where I work and I'm really happy to be here but I want everyone else to feel that way too.
I think those are the main things. There's always going to be something different that it'll pop in there but those are certainly the ones as I look towards next year and beyond.
Megan: Ami, thank you so much for being my guest today.
Ami: Thank you, Megan. I really enjoyed it and I appreciate the time.
Megan: I really enjoyed speaking with you and hearing about your experiences. You've given us a lot to work with to leverage LinkedIn as a business development tool. I appreciate you taking the time to be here with us today and I wish you and Capitol Bank all the best. Sounds like both of you are going to have a really great 2020.
Ami: Oh, thank you and same to you next year will be great for everyone I hope.
Megan: To all of our listeners please tune in next week and until then take care.
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3-Step Guide for Business Leaders Looking to Build Brand Awareness
Focusing on Community
The Capitol Bank has a strong focus on serving their communities. They have established partnerships with businesses, individuals, and over forty nonprofit organizations in their area. As businesses become more community-centered, a CFO has to become more strategic, open, and conscious about different roles within the organizations and the customers they serve. They also need to have an educational component.
''It's not your classic CFO job description of going out and doing some sales and business development. But it's something that I enjoy. And getting the opportunity to pair the classic CFO of working with the passion of being out in the community allowed me to fulfill everything I am.''
Leveraging LinkedIn to Build the Brand - Brand Awareness Guide
Ami successfully uses LinkedIn to develop a positive brand for the Capitol Bank. LinkedIn is a platform that allows them to highlight community engagement positively and the connections they're making. Ami's LinkedIn strategy includes: consistent quality content, highlighting and tagging other people, and using relevant hashtags.
''You come to a community bank for a relationship. And when you're working with anyone here at the bank, you know with whom you're working.''
Combining the Finance & Marketing Efforts
The CFO role and a CMO role or the marketing director role can complement one another and work together. A CFO needs to think about brand reputation and recognition and align the company's strategies, goals, and messages to the brand while staying true to the organization's identity. Moreover, a CFO and a CMO can build a more open and direct line of communication.
''Your brand is more than just the logo on your building. It shows up in your board materials, in your financials, on your website, in social media, and in your culture. Your brand is embedded into who you are as an organization.''