When she was a little girl, accounting was the furthest thing from Amy Meyer’s mind as she planned her future as a school teacher. That dream continued through her first year of college at St. Cloud State University in central Minnesota. “When I was much younger and thought I was wiser, I didn’t want anything to do with the business field,” Meyer explained.
As she began her studies, Meyer got cold feet about her ability to make an impact on students and speak in front of people, no matter how young they might be. She began re-evaluating what else she was good at. She was working for a small bank at the time and knew she gravitated toward numbers.
So she switched to the Herberger College of Business at SCSU, which required her to take finance and accounting classes to pursue a business degree. Ultimately, she chose to pursue accounting because “the language resonated,” she said, and her professors were encouraging. She graduated with a degree in 2007 and joined CliftonLarsonAllen.
In her role at CLA, which primarily focused on auditing, consulting, and supporting community banks, Meyer worked with financial institutions ranging from $15 million to more than $2 billion. She gained experience in understanding standards and regulations, managing people and time, and multitasking between different clients. It also helped her overcome her fear of speaking in front of people. Her time at CLA “really helped me become a more well-rounded professional in banking,” she said.
While Meyer enjoyed her time and coworkers at CLA, she made the switch to BankVista in Sartell, Minn., because she liked the idea of focusing her energy on helping one bank. As it had been a client of hers at CLA, she was already familiar with the people and the institution.
Co-worker Brianna Johannes credits Meyer’s “financial leadership, savvy profitability skills and large, audacious goals” along with the commercial underwriting team with being instrumental in the bank tripling in size during the seven years Meyer has been there. At the $545 million bank, Meyer has moved from controller to senior vice president, chief financial officer and chief credit officer.
For providing that boost, Meyer is being honored as a 2023 “Outstanding Woman in Banking” by BankBeat magazine.
While Meyer couldn’t articulate exactly what she thought banking would be like in the trenches, she knows it’s not what she expected. “I came in from giving high-level feedback to breathing this every day,” she said. She enjoys being able to see a project from end-to-end and the impact she and the bank have on the people around them, such as through BankVista’s Small Business Administration lending niche. “Giving back to the community happens in more than one way,” she said.
“Seeing how the money flows from the community and back into the community again” is one of the things that excites Meyer about banking. “Somebody trusts you with their deposit, you repackage that, and help someone else trying to achieve the dream. Just being part of that movement is pretty darn neat,” she said.
Meyer’s next goal is providing an impact wherever she can. Two of the Minnesota organizations on which she has already had an impact are Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity and the Kimball school district, through Junior Achievement. And both have very different stories on why she signed up.
About 12 years ago, Meyer’s dad passed away unexpectedly, and “working through the grieving process can be really challenging,” she said. She wanted to take something she felt was a struggle and turn it into something positive. “So I sought out an organization I thought my dad would have an appreciation for. He was a handyman and worked construction earlier on in his career,” she said. “He had such a big heart. He was always giving back. That was my tribute, my ode to him in a way.” She was treasurer for the organization for six years and chair of the board her seventh and final year.
When she moved from St. Cloud closer to the bank, she started volunteering with Junior Achievement, whose purpose is to “inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy” by providing volunteers and age-appropriate curriculum to teach students in school about entrepreneurship and financial literacy.
Meyer and her husband, Josh, worked together to find the financing for the curriculum and provided volunteer instruction hours to bring JA to elementary students at the local school. JA “spoke to my soul” because it had the teaching aspect and incorporated her appreciation of banking and finance.
These days, Meyer volunteers closer to home through coaching and other organizations that allow her to still spend time with her kids Donovon, Arianna and Courtney. “Dad was such an avid cheerleader for me … I want to be that for [my kids].
“My favorite thing in the whole world is just being a mom and being a wife,” she said. “My kids and my husband are the reason I keep pushing to be better.”
And Johannes believes she will continue to do just that. “Amy is nowhere near done leading and succeeding and is a true role model of innovation, involvement, and influence in our local communities and even broader.”