Leading up to my first GA as Financial Advisor

     The good health of the Financial Advisor’s position manifests itself in clear delineation of the tasks to be done, and, most important, a Board educated to those tasks. I found the Board members knew what I was supposed to do: they were quick to remind me if I didn’t seem to be doing it and they were prepared to listen to my recommendations on financial matters. They were reasonably loving about my occupational needs to be in the minority, sometimes by myself, and to be the perpetual semi-professional pessimist, looking on the dark side of things for those risks, those fiscal exposures which would eat away at our institutional strength.

     I had heard a lot and wondered some about the conflict which certain UUs perceived between the Financial Advisor as critic and consultant on fiscal and related matters, and the same person as UUA Trustee. I believed the Financial Advisor had to be a full-fledged working member of the Board, participating fully in its deliberative and decision making process, and must be bound and accountable in recorded votes, as well as responsible in the legal sense as a fiduciary for the Association, as are all other Trustees. When I voted, I could not escape the bias my financial and legal
background gave me any more than could the other Trustees escape from their personal and professional backgrounds as educators, ministers, business people, social scientists, etc. Only once can I recall an instance in which I voted on a matter from under my Financial Advisor’s hat, knowing I would have voted the other way elected as a district or at-large Trustee. I hoped to be able to deal with this concern in a responsible fashion; I knew I could count on others to tell me if they believed I was not.

     My first report to the General Assembly was made in Brunswick, Maine, in 1982. The year had been one rich with new experiences and new “issues.” (We no longer used the word “problem, ” perhaps because problems can be solved but issues are ongoing and can be discussed forever!) I couldn’t fail to notice how many people left the plenary hall when my report started: note to self, not everybody loves finances the way you do.

     I began with a summary of the operating results, in which I reported that in the 1980-81 fiscal year, our Association remained within the framework of the balanced budget previously adopted, and the Annual Fund surpassed its objective. It was expected that the same accomplishments would characterize the 1981-82 year. However, I felt it necessary to commend to the General Assembly’s attention the sharp rate of increase in our budget levels over the last five years which indicated a budget increasing from $2.7 million to $4.0 million through 1983-84. It was time to look at how we were funding these increases.

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