Jamming with Jason E49: Lessons from a Chief Audit Executive (CAE) with Frank Coleman

In this week’s #jammingwithjason episode I speak with Frank Coleman about lessons he learned from being a CAE. We discuss various topics including: having think skin, getting a horizontal spread of experience, not losing your cool, and two sides to every story. We also discuss the HR side of being a CAE and how to surround yourself with a great team and dealing with change.

So much wisdom from Frank in this episode.

Frank Coleman is the CAE of Farmers and Merchants Bank in southern California. He has successfully done a turn-around of internal audit in his organization (including rebranding), and built teams as well as relationships across multiple organizational levels and stakeholder groups.

Take a listen to the episode to learn Frank’s career path and advise on becoming a CAE.

#internalaudit #chiefauditexecutive #internalauditpodcast

Transcript

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Jason Mefford: Welcome everybody to another episode of jamming with Jason hey we’re doing one of my favorite episodes again where we’re we’re learning lessons from a chief audit executive

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Jason Mefford: And today I have Frank Coleman with me and he is the chief audit executive of farmers and merchants bank here in California. And so welcome my friend to the podcast.

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Frank Coleman: Thank you. Glad to be a part of this. Thanks for asking me

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Jason Mefford: Now i think it’s it’s kind of funny, too, because, you know, even though we’re we’re remotely doing this, you’re, you’re literally two miles down the road for me.

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Jason Mefford: Which is kind of funny. We’re in the same I chapter anyway. We’ve known each

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Frank Coleman: Other

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Jason Mefford: But it’s, it’s nice to have you on. So maybe

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Jason Mefford: You know, just give people kind of like a one minute overview of kind of how you progressed in your career to now being a chief audit executive, I think you’ve been there at the bank now about eight years doing this.

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Jason Mefford: A year ahead of audit. Before that, I believe, too. Right. So just kind of let people know what kind of got you to this point in your career.

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Frank Coleman: Sure, absolutely. Man, again, thanks for letting me share this with everybody. And actually, I have a deep background in public accounting. I am a CPA certified in North Carolina.

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Frank Coleman: And I spent 13 years of KPMG doing financial statement on it’s primarily financial institutions. And then also, one way for three years, came back and did another four years in a

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Frank Coleman: General management consulting group. Okay, where we focused on financial services and strategic planning profitability projects, things of that nature.

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Frank Coleman: Really did a lot for me from the standpoint, I was probably half the time helping to execute projects as well as other half. I was outselling I was, you know, cold calling and doing things like that. So we need thick skin because you get totally

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Frank Coleman: And so that’s one of those sort of maturity moments that really can help you find that little bit more about yourself and other people. And so then I ended up with Laconia

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Frank Coleman: Internal audit and there

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Frank Coleman: I’ll call it their commercial banking arena and a lot of lending a lot of credit risk management functions.

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Frank Coleman: commercial banking corporate banking, things of that nature. And as we all know, obviously Wachovia imploded. I was there when it happened.

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Frank Coleman: Was able to survive the acquisition by Wells Fargo. And so between while Caribbean wells. I spent eight years there when I left wells. I was on their wholesale banking group and I covered

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Frank Coleman: Multitude of, again, very similar. What could he do, he’s a lot of the same functions, but also while but a year into it. I added in wholesale banking the accounting and finance function.

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Frank Coleman: And what’s really interesting gave me in additional view, not only to

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Frank Coleman: You know, typical bank functions corporate commercial government banking, things of that nature.

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Frank Coleman: But it gave me the accounting and finance groups, the group controllers, the head of finance for wholesale banking. So what what’s been happening over time is a really nice horizontal spread of experience.

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Frank Coleman: That played very well into the role on that today. Now obviously had to moving from Wells Fargo out here, you know, eight years ago, obviously I go from a mega bank to a bank that we’re

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Frank Coleman: Just under 8 billion in assets and we’re primarily in Orange County and LA County, but it was also quite the challenge to come in here and as you know you interview for a job. You’re not going to learn everything during the interview.

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Jason Mefford: That I’ve got the not gonna tell you everything in the interview.

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Will take the job.

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Frank Coleman: And literally my first day was day one of a three week target exam by the regulator’s with the primary target internal audit and I just walked in the door.

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Frank Coleman: Well, there were some things that preceded my joining the bank that warranted. The attention model by the regulators. I won’t go into it here.

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Frank Coleman: But it didn’t take me very long to realize that this, this is a total gut job I tell a lot of people blew it up started all over again, there’s no owner’s manual user’s guide or anything like that. This is all about using your experience, your trials and tribulations.

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Frank Coleman: As well as you’re thrust into a lot of HR matters I inherited a lot of people that had no business being an internal want nothing against them as people.

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Frank Coleman: The fit was not there and I needed to move them all, which I did that wholesale I pretty well clean house.

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Frank Coleman: And had to start all over. So it’s not just the methodology, you’re concerned with and getting that up and running, but it had to be completely overhauled.

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Frank Coleman: It’s the people part of it. Who’s going to help me go down this path. And so that’s what I had to do and you know in even that’s it’s not perfection. You know, there were

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Frank Coleman: Will call them hiring mistakes along the way. Hey, we’re only human. We’re not perfect, but you have to mush all this together to, you know,

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Frank Coleman: To make this happen and this time I’m on the executive committee so I’m answering to, you know, the other

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Frank Coleman: You know, executives in the bank. I’ve got the audit committee and then when I’m in front of the board. I’ve got them. Then I got the regulators. They were frequently looking at me.

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Frank Coleman: Frank House progress going, how are you doing here, I get an MRI, I get an hour and like because it takes time. You know, this is, this is not a snap your finger. Boom. I’m done kind of thing.

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Frank Coleman: I would say about the three year mark. I was really beginning to feel pretty comfortable with what we had going and we were, we had worked very hard at our stature.

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Frank Coleman: And, you know, and I also realized that for this particular being there was a real education needed just part of the culture that I walked into

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Frank Coleman: The awareness and understanding and appreciation of risk and controls, it became very apparent early on in, like, Okay, I’ve got a almost like a third prong going here in education.

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Frank Coleman: And because I have to help people understand what it is we’re doing an internal audit, but I think with my background in my experience it. Allow me to demonstrate

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Frank Coleman: Fairly quickly that I know what I’m talking about. And so that in where we are today. We were in excellent place in the bank today. Now I’m in. I’m in here, eight years now. And so, a lot has happened, but

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Frank Coleman: I remember stepping in the first day and my predecessor became had become the risk manager and he wasn’t very helpful.

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Frank Coleman: Just hey, it is what it is. And so, you know, I’m having to ask a ton of questions. And that’s one of the things when you roll into something like this.

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Frank Coleman: You got to be willing to ask the questions and realize you don’t have all the answers right off the bat fact you’re better off not trying to act like you’re the know it all. And you need to learn. Listen, absorb

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Frank Coleman: Every, every organization has its own culture. Well this one is, you know, got its own culture. I had to learn that too. And how do I, you know, sort of,

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Frank Coleman: Take what I need to do in moving into that culture, but also get that culture to start changing so

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Frank Coleman: A lot, you know, that’s the kind of a long winded answer to what you originally asked for, but just kind of give people an idea of just, you know,

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Frank Coleman: Part of what’s involved when you step into something like this because it’s not your normal

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Frank Coleman: Oh, you’re the next season, he’s retiring. You know, it’s a it’s a nice standing practice, it’s it’s humming along

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Frank Coleman: That’s one aspect of being a CEO, then you get like what I’ve walked into and there are others CA. He’s out there that have done the same thing that

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Frank Coleman: There’s a lot of work and you know you. There’s a lot of sometimes taking heat and label, you know, pushing back and wow what man. Oh, it was never like this and like we’re not talking about prior on it that’s out the window that’s gone ahead to and you also realize that you also gotta

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Frank Coleman: You can’t lose your cool. You gotta be. You really have to keep your cool and be very professional about what you’re sharing with everybody because believe me as, as we’ve gone through these audits.

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Frank Coleman: There and say the first three or four years we had a lot of less than satisfactory audits and you don’t always make a lot of friends that way.

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Frank Coleman: So, but you know it, but it was a really good education for everybody.

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Frank Coleman: But they also realize that you know I’m pragmatic and very reasonable about things and I’m going to listen and that was one of the big things I learned coming into this john. Not that I was not

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Frank Coleman: I was. I’ve always been a good listener. But boy, you really, I really had to do it here just to understand

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Frank Coleman: The other side of the story, there’s always two sides to every story yeah on it’s got its story, the business partner has its story and then I have to step back and put the two together and say, Okay, here’s where we are.

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Jason Mefford: Well, yeah. And I think it’s

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Jason Mefford: It’s always good because you just gave like a whole bunch of really good information for people. So sometimes I like to just kind of do a little timeout and summarize a few of the, the key points.

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Jason Mefford: And then, and then I wanted to kind of take a couple of these things that you said maybe go a little bit deeper on that.

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Jason Mefford: Because I think, you know, again, just your experiences, similar to a lot of other chief out of executives right

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Jason Mefford: You may have public accounting experience you had to step into that, you know, CPA, but you’ve

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Jason Mefford: You’ve done more than

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Jason Mefford: Just audit.

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Jason Mefford: So this is another thing because I

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Jason Mefford: Think, sometimes people worry that, you know, if I if I come into audit late or if I start audit and I go somewhere else. I’ll never be able to come back. And so, you know, again, people that’s off the table right

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Frank Coleman: In fact,

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Jason Mefford: The best CA’s usually have. I love that term a horizontal spread of experience you’ve you you know what it’s like to be in the other chair, and that makes you a way better auditor as well. Right.

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Jason Mefford: In I love you know about having to have thick skin. Because ultimately, you know, you may not realize until you get into it.

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Jason Mefford: Yes, you gotta have thick.

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Jason Mefford: Skin as an executive and so if you’re, you know, easily charged easily offended. Those are probably some skills that you’re going to need to work on before you get to that point.

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Frank Coleman: I would agree with that and, you know, in a little more about this bank. It is a we’re privately held

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Frank Coleman: And we have fourth generation brothers running the bank. So it’s a family bank and that gets down that cultural path.

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Frank Coleman: And what I’ve learned with both the brothers and they’re two very different personalities. But what I’ve learned with them is

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Frank Coleman: Again, getting back to that comment I made about being, you know, pragmatic being reasonable just being. Matter of fact, with them.

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Frank Coleman: I’m not, I’m not gonna sit here and jump on the desk and Pam on this on the desk and say it’s got to be this way.

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Frank Coleman: It’s really more. Matter of fact, like, Okay, here’s here’s really where we need to be at the end of the day now. But then I got to turn around and listen to them, you know, they’re going to come back at me.

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Frank Coleman: I’m totally cool with that and and now we’ve got some other executives to in particular that have come from outside the organization they joined the bank at graduate

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Frank Coleman: And then we have another executive has been with the paint something to five years, these are you know CFO highly respected.

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Frank Coleman: And so, you know, I’ve got all that going on too. So you’ve got a mix of people who

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Frank Coleman: This is all they know and we have a lot of very tenured people here. This is all they’ve ever known as this bank and this is how we do banking.

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Frank Coleman: But then now we brought on a decent number of people, including myself, who have seen banking and other places in typically in many other places.

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Frank Coleman: Happened to do it with, you know, the two mega banks, but also my audit days at KPMG I did a ton of community banks in thrifts back when they were still around.

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Frank Coleman: So I’ve been able to take all of that. And that, to me, that is the answer that horizontal view. I’ve been referring to

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Frank Coleman: Because that was a comment that see a CEO made to me probably about a year, year and a half after I got here and things were beginning to really casual and take root

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Frank Coleman: He made the comment, you know, we’re just talking and he said, that’s what we liked about your background, you were you had that landscape view that horizontal view, instead of being siloed.

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Frank Coleman: And it’s not. But then in not a knock if you’re in the big mega banks, where now you can transfer within on it.

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Frank Coleman: But you’re going to need to do that if you’re aspiring to be a CEO, you’re going to need to broaden your horizons, you’re going to need to spread yourself. And if you stay locked in a silo.

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Frank Coleman: Okay, realize what that’s going to do to you. And in terms of your mobility. If you want to move into being a CA. You got to realize

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Frank Coleman: That it’s going to take more than just state sticking in that Silo, you are going to have to do some movement.

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Frank Coleman: Either within that internal Otter organization or you may switch banks and go into another internal audit career. So that’s been my experience. And for me, it’s played out very well to have this really landscape view that I’ve enjoyed. Yeah.

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Jason Mefford: Well, and I like I like the the imagery that you use to, you know, the fact that there’s really no owner’s manual to this.

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Jason Mefford: Because I want to kind of talk about this because I think sometimes people

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Jason Mefford: Think there’s one right way to do everything and you must do it this way and I get so many people that are like, just tell me exactly what to do and it’s like

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Jason Mefford: You know that that’s the wrong question. Folks, right, you got it. You got to answer a whole bunch of other questions because, you know, again, like you said you were with KPMG for quite a while.

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Jason Mefford: You know, saw lots of things there went to walk O V and Wells, both of those places have different cultures.

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Jason Mefford: So you had to get used to the culture at both of those big mega banks, but then you get thrown into, you know, a smaller community bank.

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Jason Mefford: With a very steep tradition. I mean, farmers and merchants is an icon here in the Orange County LA area, you know, from this area.

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Jason Mefford: And but because of that, you know, like you said, You’ve got fourth generation privately owned family business.

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Jason Mefford: And, you know, working for a billionaire and a privately owned family business myself that brings in, you know, a whole bunch of dynamics, especially with the different generations. So

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Jason Mefford: You know, what are some things you know, and you’ve already almost kind of given the answer.

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Jason Mefford: To some of this. But you know when when you walk in, because this is true if you’re a chief audit executive or even, you know, any anybody else when you walk into a new job. You know, there’s kind of some things that that you need to do to figure out what really needs to be done without

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Jason Mefford: losing your cool without, you know, making enemies of everybody to begin with.

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Jason Mefford: So, so, so what are some of the things because I’ve seen a lot of young executives kind of come in and think they know everything and start telling everybody what to do.

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Jason Mefford: And think things are going to change, like in six months and inevitably they fail right they end up getting outsourced or they whatever the term happens to be in their company.

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Jason Mefford: So what are some things you know again as as people are coming into this and you really got kind of that baptism by fire. You know, I think you use

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Jason Mefford: Something about, you know, the buzz saw coming at you. You know when you walked in there because there were certain things that needed to change. How do you find that out, how do you kind of work on a plan and keep that longer term goal instead of doing silly things in the short term.

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Frank Coleman: Well, when I walked into this. And so what I had to do for those people who maybe someday or get thrown into a turnaround situation which

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Frank Coleman: You know, if you get that opportunity. I mean, it can be very rewarding and realize there’s a heck of a lot of work that has to go into it and a lot of stepping back and thinking about

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Frank Coleman: Okay, what needs to happen here. Okay, I got to leverage my public accounting days my eight years and mega bank, you know, internal audit.

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Frank Coleman: And like, okay, what needs to happen here. So yeah, this sounds kind of simple but, like, for instance, I asked for the audit committee charter. Well, that’s pretty standard while I’m reading it. I’m like, Okay, now we got to start all over. I rewrote the audit committee charter and then I hired

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Frank Coleman: Somebody from KPMG out here. She’s a senior manager and initially coming in the door.

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Frank Coleman: She was literally my right hand person, almost like a deputy of sorts. And so what she and I then had to do we scrapped the the audit standards ever hear me if you want to call it standards they really weren’t

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Frank Coleman: And we had to build our what is what we now call our internal audit charter and standards we built that from scratch.

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Frank Coleman: And you’re you’re going out to the internet, you’re, you’re pulling down once you can I did that for audit committee charter and then

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Frank Coleman: The report format that we inherited was was awful. I mean it was just not meaningful at all we had. We scrapped that and developed a brand new report format.

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Frank Coleman: And that was much more meaningful. You got to put good quality information in there, we, we had an executive summary we we put scope information in there. We call them reportable issues key issues and matters requiring attention and then

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Frank Coleman: We originally call them observations we call the process enhancements nail those that don’t you know we just stick them in there, they’ll, they’ll affect the report rating.

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Frank Coleman: And like, okay, what is that meaningful information. There are business partners.

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Frank Coleman: Need in world, but I also got to think about, okay, the audit committee, the regulators KPMG there are outside auditors. Guess what they’re asking for is our audit reports, you know, things of that nature. So you’re doing that, but then also

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Frank Coleman: You know, I had to learn a lot of people go to because they did not measure up and I did that, three weeks into the job. And in fact, that was an interesting thing I did there kind of surprised a lot of people what I did.

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Frank Coleman: I get here and second day had a team meeting I introduced myself because the bank is not sent my resume out to my team. So guys, here comes my resume.

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Frank Coleman: You need to know about me your new balls. And so when I wanted to come across as being open and things like that that right off the bat, I said.

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Frank Coleman: I want each of you to schedule. I think it was like an hour with me. I want to get to know you better. And I want you to get to know me better

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Frank Coleman: And so everybody go to my calendar next two or three days, but also did I went to the director of HR and said, Can you give me a summary of everybody on my team. I want to know who I’m inheriting and well let’s just say there were some interesting information passed along to me.

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Jason Mefford: From HR. Yeah.

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Frank Coleman: In this was an audit group. And we’ve all heard this that you’ve got people who are literally almost both both feet in the parking lot, meaning the bat render the exit.

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Frank Coleman: You know what, let’s not do that, let’s just throw them in on it.

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Frank Coleman: And we’ve all experienced that where you just fill it up with kind of the, you know, the leftover, so to speak, people who aren’t cutting you for whatever reason.

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Frank Coleman: Elsewhere in an organization that’s what I inherited here. Well, I changed all that and unloaded just about everybody on here at it.

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Frank Coleman: And so I gather this information from the HR director here, they talk to me. I talked to them and then three weeks in, and you can call it the the St. Valentine’s Day, man.

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Jason Mefford: Oh, no.

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Frank Coleman: What I did was I hold everybody. And we had a team meeting and I said, I’ve made my decisions about who I’m going to

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Frank Coleman: Stick with for now and then those that you know need to move on. And I explained how I went about it.

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Frank Coleman: And, you know, it seems we don’t always realize the amount of let’s just call it HR matters and activity. You have to get involved in. It’s not just doing the audit work.

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Frank Coleman: There’s a lot of HR and this kind of scenario, you have to deal with and but I also wanted to be sensitive. I didn’t want to be

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Frank Coleman: In like I’m taking everybody out back and shoot them or anything like that. But what I did was I said okay for you people that made the decision, you’re not going to stay in on it. I think it was about a two and a half month period of time to say here’s what I’m gonna let you do

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Frank Coleman: During the next two and a half months and I gave him a drop dead date.

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Frank Coleman: I’m going to allow you the opportunity to look internally look externally. I’ll even make time available for you to go interview, whether it’s internally or externally and I’ll even

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Frank Coleman: Feel free to shoot me a resume and I’ll review it and sit down with you or take it for you. I’ve done a lot of that in my career.

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Frank Coleman: But there’s one catch all of this. If at any time during this two and a half month window. I feel like

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Frank Coleman: You’re, you’re not holding up your end of the bargain. I will fire you immediately I made that very clear. You have to do that if you’re going to do something like that.

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Frank Coleman: And so, um, I did it in two phases. They were your part. And it actually worked really well. And in the meantime, then I’m starting to hire new people, new people that are good qualified people

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Frank Coleman: In that even that took time. I mean, there’s nothing perfect about the hiring process, but I was starting to grow and build

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Frank Coleman: All of this. So I’ve got this HR thing going on. But I’m also, I need to build out a methodology and audit structure.

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Frank Coleman: And including reporting and and then the audit committee reporting, I can still remember my first audit committee meeting and I just I just

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Frank Coleman: did not look at what my predecessor did with the audit committee. It was awful. And then I went with here’s what I think initially I think is meaningful to the audit committee.

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Frank Coleman: I walked in there three people in the audit committee and the looks on their faces as I’m sharing this information.

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Frank Coleman: About all that and things. Obviously, they were not told before

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Frank Coleman: That it was just like this there as got bigger and they’re like, oh boy. We have been we’ve been missing some information in the past spring. Thank you so much.

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Frank Coleman: And so almost immediately and building trust with the audit committee and then and then you have to do the same thing, you know, as I say, I got here in January may of 2012

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Frank Coleman: The board approved the creation of the executive committee and I got placed on the executive committee right off the bat, so

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Frank Coleman: Then I’m

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Frank Coleman: Producing

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Frank Coleman: And so I got another group. All right, here’s what audit is all about. In fact, today, um, I actually present I’m making an audit presentation quarterly to the executive committee.

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Frank Coleman: And so, but in between there’s obviously a lot of other stuff going on. I don’t hesitate to push things to executive committee board. Whatever it takes.

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Frank Coleman: I’m pushing things out. So, you know, that’s a lot of what was going on, initially in this turnaround situation. And then on top of that you got the regulators.

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Frank Coleman: And you know they’ve got their expectations and demands and you know I’m getting I’m getting the MRI A’s. The MRIs and things like that, but then

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Frank Coleman: Slowly but surely began to see things improving and they saw it too. And they were becoming more complimentary and you know they have a job to do.

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Frank Coleman: And I get that. I understand that. In fact, we’ve got a really good relationship with the regulators. It’s Federal Reserve state of California.

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Frank Coleman: And we were really good place with them right now. And same for KPMG because they rely on us, not just for credit review which I have but also other kind of general you know type things that we do for them.

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Frank Coleman: You know, we’re not socks. So we do addition test work here. We do a ton of additional control test work for KPMG

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Frank Coleman: Among other things, during the course of the on and we do some Kosovo entity level control work and stuff like that. So, you know, you really got to get to the basics and build that

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Frank Coleman: Infrastructure that structure from which to grow and it’s not only for your staff goes you know that they’ve got to work that structure, they got to work within though that structure.

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Frank Coleman: But then, I’ve got to start communicating that out to all the different stakeholders and helping them understand. Here’s what audit is going to look like going forward.

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Jason Mefford: Yeah, so really you, you had to go through that education program with all those different stakeholders, and I think that’s, that’s one of the important things to you know that you’re bringing up in a CA role you have more stakeholders that you have to deal with.

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Jason Mefford: Okay, so you’ve got your employees and I want to come back and talk about employees. Again, just a little bit, but

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Jason Mefford: You’ve got employees, you’ve got the other executives. The other functions in the company right so you know you’re on the executive committee that’s

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Jason Mefford: That’s some of your key stakeholders right there right you know in your instance it’s family owned and yes I know some of those people are on the board, but there’s almost like

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Jason Mefford: Dealing with the family and dealing with the rest of the board almost sometimes becomes two stakeholder groups, depending, depending on your depending on your organization, right, because

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Jason Mefford: You know, sometimes there’s other family members that may not be represented on the board, but have a

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Jason Mefford: An investment in the company. And so sometimes there’s that side of it. You have to deal with as well.

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Jason Mefford: You know, obviously the audit committee is part of the part of the board or a sub component of it. But then, you know, like again and your, your situation, you have regulators and when you walked in the relationship with them, maybe wasn’t the best that’s probably one of the

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Frank Coleman: Reason it wasn’t really we’re in a much better place today. Yeah.

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Jason Mefford: And in it and it takes time. Again, right, like you said,

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Jason Mefford: You know, year and a half, three years, five years it takes time. So you have to be

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Jason Mefford: You know, patient and realize that that’s what happens. You know, I use the analogy of like a little speed boat versus like a big cruise ship. Well, even, even at a smaller bank, you’re still on a pretty good sized cruise ship.

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Jason Mefford: You can’t just turn on a dime it it takes a while, but I wanted to get back because I because I thought, you know, the experience that you had in the way that you dealt with the employees when you first came in, is a great thing to go just a little bit deeper into because

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Jason Mefford: I think sometimes, you know, and again. So for people that are listening, though. Thank you want to be a chief audit executive, but you hate dealing with the people side of the business. Probably not the role for you.

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Jason Mefford: So either you actually get good at it or get used to it or just realize that maybe a manager director level is better for you because there’s this

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Jason Mefford: Like a velvet glove kind of an approach to it, right, is that sometimes as an executive, you have to, you have to take a hard stance.

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Jason Mefford: But you also need to be compassionate and a human about the whole situation as well. Right. And so I love how you, how you dealt with your team to begin with.

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Jason Mefford: I mean, you could have come in, you know, and just started firing people left and right, that would have had a very detrimental impact, you know, both internally and everything else. I mean, it’s like Frank, the

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Jason Mefford: hatchet man or whatever you start getting nicknames. Right.

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Frank Coleman: That was the. That was the nickname my head. You hit it.

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Jason Mefford: Was it was a hat.

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Jason Mefford: But, but when you look at it, you know, again, it’s, it’s about having clear expectations and and setting those boundaries because like you said you were fair to the people you said, Look, you’ve got two

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Jason Mefford: And a half months. It’s not like you’re, you know, not going to be able to pay your rent next month. You’ve got two and a half months. I’m here to help you.

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Jason Mefford: Either transition within the bank or somewhere else. But I expect certain things of you. And if you and if you’re not willing to do that, then you know you’re not keeping up your end of the bargain.

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Jason Mefford: That’s it. That’s a great kind of compassionate, but yet firm way that’s way more emotionally intelligent than just had shooting people

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Jason Mefford: Literally right right now. I’m guessing to again by doing that.

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Jason Mefford: People felt that it was fairer, if you will, right i mean the the people that you went through and i and i know this was my case. And a lot of times, the people that I had to fire let go, whatever you want to call it helped them transition

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Jason Mefford: A lot of times they were grateful afterwards, even though it was hard going through it right

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Jason Mefford: And this is where I think, you know, sometimes the people issues are some of the hardest things you have to deal with an as an executive, but they’re also the greatest things as well.

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Jason Mefford: Sometimes you have to counsel people out

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Jason Mefford: But the developing of your talent and having a great team around you is a fabulous feeling. I mean, that was, that was the biggest part of the job that I loved.

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Frank Coleman: Oh, and I totally agree with that and where we are today because I’ve got four audit teams. And then when I

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Frank Coleman: Get that feedback back from business partners even regulators and KPMG or the audit committee.

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Frank Coleman: And they’re like you all are doing a really good job that you know that that report there you all found some really good stuff there, and we

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Frank Coleman: Want to try and instill in people is, okay, believe me, there auditors out there that have sort of that mentality.

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Frank Coleman: Gotcha mentality that doesn’t serve a real useful purpose. And if you’re aspiring to move up in their audit organization, the gods mentalities, you know, that ain’t gonna work. So, um, you know, what you gotta do is you got to look at it from the standpoint of

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Frank Coleman: We’re helping people do their jobs better

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Frank Coleman: And what does that translate into if they’re doing their jobs better that that’s a win for everybody, you know, their business unit.

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Frank Coleman: You know, roll up and then if you start, you start getting that message and it’s it’s filtering out throughout the organization.

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Frank Coleman: It kind of catches on and people realize that one audience, not the, you know, they’re not the big bad wolf or anything like that, you know, believe me, even today, we’re still putting out all the results that you know not everybody likes

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Frank Coleman: But we report what we find we don’t make this stuff up. We simply report what we find in the end we have truly view audit is evaluated. If done correctly, that we’re just helping you to do your job better if along the way. Speaking of the people aspect of it. This has happened here.

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Frank Coleman: We work with people who it’s obvious that that that role there in. Okay, that’s not a good fit.

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Frank Coleman: You know that, you know, they need to be off doing something else, let’s let’s recognize that as a bank and let’s help them.

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Frank Coleman: And if that in even if that’s to the point of okay maybe that their futures not here with this bank.

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Frank Coleman: And then maybe they just simply need to leave the organization and go off and find something that’s more amenable

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Frank Coleman: To, you know, their interest level and and because I’ve always said you know take things about a job. Enjoy. Whatever it is you do and make sure it’s a good fit.

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Frank Coleman: And if you can’t get to one or both of those you you truly do need to move on because what will happen over time is that’ll show up in your work effort and you will unfortunately you will eventually pay a price for that and

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Frank Coleman: You need to avoid that.

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Jason Mefford: Yeah, it shows up in your work effort, but it usually also shows up in your personal life.

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Jason Mefford: Because people

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Jason Mefford: People start experiencing stress or health issues or other stuff if if it’s not a fit and they know it and they’re not doing anything about it as well.

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Jason Mefford: So, you know, because then the pressures of work, start to start to happen more and that just carries over and so you’re right you know if it’s not a good fit. And you’re not enjoying it tend to move on. Right. There’s lots of jobs that are out there.

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Jason Mefford: You just may not be in the right fit for you. It might be the right job. But maybe it’s not the right manager that you’re reporting to

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Jason Mefford: Right. Or it might not be the right culture of the company or something like that. Well, go and find what is going to be that that good fit for you.

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Jason Mefford: But, you know, especially took it as you were talking about kind of rebuilding your team, you know, getting people in there that really could kind of do things and act the way that you needed them to you have to get that team in place.

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Jason Mefford: And, you know, get the right people on the bus, get the right people in the right seats and I’m trying to remember. I remember Jim Collins talked about that, but I can’t remember. Who else did. I know I’ve heard that several times.

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Jason Mefford: And then you can start going right because it’s going to take you that three to five years. I mean, that’s all it was the same way for me.

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Jason Mefford: But surrounding yourself with good people. And I think this is one of the things you know to give you kudos on that seems like you know I know people on your team, they’re happy, you know, and it’s and it’s it’s

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Jason Mefford: You know, the idea of kind of like like Sir Richard Branson says, you know,

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Jason Mefford: Take care of your employees.

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Jason Mefford: Your employees will take care of your customers. If your customers are taking care of revenues and everything is going to be taken care of. So

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Jason Mefford: We can even think the same way here. If we take care of our audit team and we build a good culture and we have that you know the right things going on within our team.

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Jason Mefford: Then our team is going to take care of our customers. Okay, if they just happened to be internal to the company, you know, but they’re these different stakeholders and if they’re taking care of right then everybody’s feeling good. Right.

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Jason Mefford: So yeah, good on you for that.

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Frank Coleman: It will preach appreciate that even, even when you hire good people. Surround yourself with that way they’re still gonna be movements and they definitely happen even with some of the folks. I’ve still got today that I’m

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Frank Coleman: Okay, I get that phone call or I’m in a meeting and somebody says, Hey Frankie. Got a minute and you’re like, Okay, all right.

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Frank Coleman: And it becomes a conversation around maybe something just kind of rubbed them the wrong way, for whatever reason, during the course of the audit or conversation or something like that.

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Frank Coleman: And I’m like, Okay, I’m not going to push back on them. I’m listening and gathering information. And then I said, Okay, thank you for this.

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Frank Coleman: I’m going to go talk to, you know, whoever you know about this and if you know I’ve even had situations where

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Frank Coleman: You know, it’s been one of my managers and course I go directly to them. But also, you know, bring the manager and if it’s one of my staff.

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Frank Coleman: And I’ll go to the manager first and say, okay, had this conversation with such. And so, all right, I’ve got their side of the story. Now, what’s our side of the story.

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Frank Coleman: As we all know, there’s two sides to every story.

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Jason Mefford: That was I was going to actually bring that up but you did a good callback on that right

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Jason Mefford: Because, because there is always two sides to the story. And so if you make a snap decision. You know, if you tell an executive. Oh, I’ll take care of it, you know, kind of thing without getting your side of it. It’s like

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Jason Mefford: They may be totally wrong or both of us may be totally wrong and something in the

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Jason Mefford: huddle is the right fit. But you don’t know until you’ve investigated.

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Frank Coleman: Right. And you know if there is something there okay knowledge it, and yet once you get through everything acknowledge it, you need to. Okay, if that employee needs some

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Frank Coleman: Whether it’s some coaching some counseling, whatever the case may be. You gotta deal with it.

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Frank Coleman: And don’t just think because your audit you know everything’s hunky dory mean there’s still people at the end of the day, we all are. And we’re human

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Frank Coleman: And you know they’re bad days. And hopefully, there are a lot of really good days, which usually there are, but you may have had a moment where

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Frank Coleman: He got away from you a little bit, then I’ve had a few of those. And once I talked to the employee, they basically said that and that

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Frank Coleman: Yeah, that one kind of got away from me a little bit like okay well I’m glad we’re talking about it. Now let’s talk about the next time, something like that might happen.

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Frank Coleman: Yeah, this is a learning moment for you and how to better handle that, you know, the next time around. So, you know, you have to do that and you can’t just sweep it under the rug, or just kind of hope it goes away. It’s

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Jason Mefford: A few

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Frank Coleman: Reasons my stature has just taken a hit Creedence has just taken a hit. And there’s also, it starts going down a path of trust when people come to me with what they think is good information.

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Frank Coleman: They’re trusting me to do something about it. And I do have quite a reputation here at the bank that when something does come up. I do.

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Frank Coleman: I don’t let it fester. I don’t park them in the colon or anything like that. I get right on it.

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Frank Coleman: Because everybody benefits and and you know the end of the day, and that that’s just something I’ve done my entire career, but really has played out very well here and to have that kind of reputation that people like.

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Frank Coleman: If they bring something to my attention. They know Frank’s going to deal with it great that that’s part of being a CEO. Yeah.

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Jason Mefford: Well, because that’s, that’s really that executive mindset and presence that that you have to have, you know, as

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Jason Mefford: As an executive. And again, that’s why we call it chief audit executive regardless of what the title is.

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Jason Mefford: But you need to be, you know, acting as an executive and sometimes that means doing things that are hard that we don’t necessarily want to do, but it’s part of the job. And like you said, the quicker you actually, you know, address it and deal with

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Jason Mefford: In you know from from an from an integrity standpoint. That’s how you develop the trust over time. Right, and that’s why again people, you know, it takes years to do this.

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Jason Mefford: And and you just have to continue to be consistent and how we’re doing it and showing up and listen to both sides of the story.

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Jason Mefford: You know, realize. People are people. And we’re dealing with humans. And that means there are sometimes emotions involved and you know that’s why again.

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Jason Mefford: The further up you go in the organization. You got to start working on your soft skills and if you don’t want to do that or you you you know, for whatever reason, don’t like it then executive level, probably not for you.

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Frank Coleman: Yeah, and you don’t want to. You don’t want to make it to an executive level and then have quote HR issues. I’ll say take you down.

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Jason Mefford: That that I’ve seen that as

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Frank Coleman: A good place to be.

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Jason Mefford: Now, and I’ve seen I’ve seen that so many times, because a lot of times people end up getting promoted up because of the technical expertise. Yeah.

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Jason Mefford: And we forget to look at the soft skills side of it and then something, you know, blows up and it takes somebody’s career down. So that’s, that’s why I keep preaching to everybody, soft skills soft skills soft skills, you know, it’s like

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Jason Mefford: You’re, you’re not going to make it. If you don’t, if you don’t do that.

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Frank Coleman: So, but I think in speaking of the soft skills. Also, we can’t lose sight of the verbal and written skills to extremely important, but as I like to say

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Frank Coleman: Thinking well on your feet. And as part of that executive presence, you really got to be able to do that because there can be

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Frank Coleman: Just a spot moment that you get a question or a reaction. I don’t care if it’s in a board meeting on a committee meeting executive committee, we have bi monthly manager meetings and

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Frank Coleman: From time to time, maybe once a year. I’m invited to to speak and those questions come from the floor. Oh, I’ve got the chief auditor up here.

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Frank Coleman: I’m gonna see if I can make him squirm. A little bit.

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Jason Mefford: Was that Bullseye that we were talking about before we started recording

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Frank Coleman: Exactly. I mean, that’s just like okay yeah I were the bullseye, I gotta be able to handle that moment. Yeah, and you know in again as part of that, don’t you know fly off the handle or anything like that, or say oh well that’s that’s wrong. We don’t do it that way.

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Frank Coleman: Okay, if there, if you need to acknowledge certain things about it, acknowledge them and share what you can, at that moment, and if you can’t fully answer it. That’s okay and circle back with that individual later and say, let me give you some additional insights. Yeah.

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Jason Mefford: I think that’s an important

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Jason Mefford: Thing for people to remember, regardless of what level you are if someone asks you a question and you don’t know the answer. Don’t try to make up an answer.

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Jason Mefford: Have the courage to say, you know what, that’s a great question. I’m not really sure. I’m going to have to do a little bit of research and I’m going to get back to you on that.

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Jason Mefford: Right, that’s

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Jason Mefford: That is one, you know, key takeaway for you if you have the courage to actually do that. It’s going to save you so much headache.

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Frank Coleman: Down the road realize there’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with a

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Frank Coleman: Weakness, or I’ve got I’m technically week at the moment, or something like that. That’s not it at all.

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Frank Coleman: It’s just, you know, acknowledging that okay and I don’t have it right on the tip of my tongue at the moment, but I’m going to get back with you and then that’s the other side of it is you have to get back with that person. Yeah, and do it in a timely manner. Yep. Yep.

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Jason Mefford: Well, just like everything I we end up getting talking and time goes by and it’s like

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Jason Mefford: Okay, I guess we have to cut it off or else. People will be listening to this for two hours right but

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Jason Mefford: prank. Thank you. Thank you for coming on and talking because, again, I think it

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Jason Mefford: It really helps the profession for people to kind of see and learn from what others are doing

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Jason Mefford: And again, you know what we talked about today may not be perfect for everybody’s organization because there’s no correct owner’s manual but

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Jason Mefford: There’s, there’s different things again that we talked about that can help everybody in their career, you know, if you go back and think about and make a mental note, go back and listen again and take notes. If you want to

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Jason Mefford: But there’s some things that were shared today that will can help anybody in their career. So I really appreciate you helping get the word

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Frank Coleman: Out. He asked me to

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Frank Coleman: Participate because I’m a firm believer in giving back and we’re a big profession, and there’s a lot of focus on our profession. These days, and will continue to be that way. And if this is

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Frank Coleman: I’ll say one small way I can help. You know, other CEOs sort of get through something or think about something a little differently. Okay, that’s part of the give back, you know, from my perspective, so I’m more than happy to do this. I’m glad you invited me to this.

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Jason Mefford: Well, thanks. And again, yeah. We’ll, we’ll be talking again, I’m sure, who knows.

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Frank Coleman: Oh yeah, we

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Jason Mefford: Might have to have you back for another episode the future.

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Frank Coleman: I’m happy to do it.

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Jason Mefford: All right, well, hey, Frank. Thank you. And for all the listeners. Thanks for listening in and we’ll catch you on a future episode of jamming with Jason