Adrian Johnson, B.S. ’92, serves as vice president and treasurer for the Municipal Employees Credit Union of Baltimore, Inc.
How did you decide upon a career in the financial services industry?
I graduated high school and decided not to go to college right away. Quite frankly, I did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I merely wanted to gain full-time employment. The first and only offer came from a local community bank. At the time, a friend of mine worked there. He put a good word in for me and helped me land a job there.
Where did you get your start? What led you to your current position?
I started my career at Carrollton Bank as a coin teller. I resumed my education at the American Institute of Banking, which focuses on continuous education for adults in the banking industry. I enrolled in an accounting course there and that course sparked my interest in an accounting career. After five years of employment with Carrollton Bank, I landed a position in the newly formed accounting department. I worked in the department for about 10 years, going from clerk to manager. When the bank hired a Chief Financial Officer, I was promoted and given the opportunity to work for the CFO as a financial analyst. I transitioned from the accounting side of banking to the finance side.
How would you describe your current position as treasurer at MECU?
I oversee asset/liability, the fixed income investment portfolio, and liquidity management. I am also a member of the management team, which develops and implements strategies for the organization. I report directly to the president and CEO. I also keep management and the board of directors abreast of the economy. I have been with MECU for 12 years, and in the financial industry for 31 years. In that period, the last 24 years have been in the accounting and finance areas.
What are some current challenges that you, your department or company are currently facing?
I feel everyone knows about the meltdown in the financial services industry over the last couple of years. MECU has managed the risk adequately. Credit risk is the area of concern for everyone. During these troubling times, MECU has shown its commitment to its members.
Considering the current events surrounding financial institutions across the U.S., what lessons should consumers take away from this experience?
I feel consumers are being forced to go back to the basics because of ongoing job losses, sluggish income growth, lower housing wealth and tight credit. Consumers are being forced to save more, pay down debt and keep debt to a minimum, and they’re gaining a mindset of living below their means.
What advice would you give to students who might want to pursue a career in your field but are undecided?
I would say go for it. You can take so many different paths in the accounting field. The only thing I would add is that if a person is planning on obtaining an accounting degree, then shoot for the Certified Public Accountant status; therefore, while you are taking your courses you should prepare yourself for the CPA exam. Of course, it means at minimum another two-year commitment to obtain a masters in accounting.
What's the one job-hunting secret you wish all students knew?
Employers are now looking at a person’s credit and credit score before making hiring decisions.
Why did you choose to attend UB?
UB is well known in the business community. At least two of my former bosses at Carrollton Bank have degrees from UB. I knew I would be attending the University after graduating from Catonsville Community College to pursue my B.S. in business administration and specializing in accounting.
How has attending UB helped you in your career?
There was a point in my career where one of my bosses told me he could not promote me again until I received my degree. Having that diploma plus great work experience took me to new heights. I thoroughly enjoyed the UB experience.