A Positive Bottom Line Bodes Well for Angus Membership
Former treasurer, current vice chair, Perry shares fiscal philosophy.
A conservative approach to the budget, while remaining aggressive in delivering tools and services — that’s how newly elected vice president and vice chairman of the Board, Jonathan Perry, Fayetteville, Tenn., describes the American Angus Association’s approach to financials.
“We have to have a positive inflow of cash coming into that building to be able to keep those services available and keep research, youth programs, things that benefit our membership — we’ve got to stay on top of to be sure we can not only maintain them, but improve them and be able to bounce on anything that comes along that’s a positive addition to our membership’s toolbox,” Perry says.
Every entity had a positive bottom line, and managed to balance revenue even as inflation grew costs as well.
The Association has a strong investment portfolio, which rebounded to an 11% gain after last year’s 15% loss. Nearly 70% of that investment income is restricted, or earmarked for specific needs that the previous Board identified such as building maintenance, technology upgrades or scholarships.
“We had a great year. Just remember that one of the reasons we are where we are today is because we had foresight in individuals that sat on this board way before we did that watched that bottom line and left the funds available for us to be able to utilize them when things came along that we needed to add to or invest in for our membership.”
Listen to the Tennessee cattle breeder give a full update in this piece from the recent Angus Convention, or read the entire interview below.
MIRANDA REIMAN: Good financial standing. That's something all of us hope for in the associations that we're a part of, but what's that really mean? I'm Miranda Reiman with the Angus Journal team. We just got done with a 2023 Angus Convention and the last item of business was business. So I've got Jonathan Perry here with Deer Valley Farms in Tennessee to talk to us a little bit about the financial standing of the American Angus Association. Thanks for joining us today.
JONATHAN PERRY: Thanks, Miranda.
MIRANDA REIMAN: You've served as treasurer in this past year and been on the board of directors for a long time. So you've seen the financial reports year after year. What are some of the highlights that really stood out to you this year?
JONATHAN PERRY: Miranda, first of all, I got to give kudos to our staff as treasurer. Yeah, we are in the mix and very aware of what's going on, but our staff handles it on a daily basis. Mark is definitely in charge and watches every dime that goes through that building. Kenny and Tara and their crew, the accounting crew, they are diligent and they look after our money just like it's theirs, and we're blessed to have that group in that building and looking after our finances on a daily basis. With that said, we have had a tremendous year. All entities are showing a positive bottom line. We are in great shape from a fiscal standpoint, we still need to be diligent and we still have to have revenue come in the door. We offer a lot of services and a lot of products to our membership. We keep them in the forefront of the business, but it doesn't come at no cost. I mean, so we have to have a positive inflow of cash coming into that building to be able to keep those services available and keep research, youth programs, things that benefit our membership — we've got to stay on top of to be sure we can not only maintain 'em, but improve 'em and be able to bounce on anything that comes along that's a positive addition to our membership's toolbox.
MIRANDA REIMAN: Absolutely. It takes resources to be a resource for the members.
JONATHAN PERRY: Absolutely. We're blessed to have former boards have done a tremendous job of building a solid nest egg and any business, if you don't have some backup sitting there to cover you through the hard times, we all look at that nest egg and we're like, wow, that's a lot of money. Why are we still having to pay fees and having to pay for services? But that nest egg is there for a reason. It's there to enable us when we hit those tough patches so that we don't have to immediately go to membership to garner that cash that it takes to keep the doors open. We have to have a physical responsibility of setting it aside and leaving it there for when it's needed.
MIRANDA REIMAN: That is one thing that performed really well this year was those long-term investments. I think it was a pretty tough year last year. This year they rebounded, but I did learn that a lot of those are earmarked for really specific things too. Right.
JONATHAN PERRY: The beauty of our investment portfolio or basically our savings that we're sitting on, the beauty of that is that we do get to live off of that interest each year, but we also have a huge percentage of that earmarked for certain things that prior boards put in place, whether it be technological improvements, whether it be scholarships or funds for youth or research priorities, certain things that just because it's sitting there, we don't have the ability to go grab it and use it for anything we want. So we need positive results from our investments, and this year has been very, very good to us. Don't forget last year we looked at a huge loss in our investments, so we needed a turn in that performance and we needed to build that nest egg back up.
MIRANDA REIMAN: Sure. And as you noted, it looked really good that you were in the treasurer's seat at that point.
JONATHAN PERRY: Well, I told 'em it was absolutely a result of my labor, but I had nothing to do with it. Kenny and Tara do a tremendous job. The whole accounting department, Kenny is very prudent with those investments and watches them on a daily basis and does a really good job of safeguarding our cash that belongs to the membership.
MIRANDA REIMAN: Sure. I won't make you quote all the numbers. I didn't ask you to bring your notes here, but give me just a little bit of the bullet points on, I mean, registrations were down slightly, but there were other things that made up for that.
JONATHAN PERRY: Sure. While we did lose some budgeted income in certain core revenue spots like registration, not a lot, but we were very fortunate to make it up in areas like Angus Link. Angus Link had a tremendous year. We could not have even considered budgeting for the increase we saw there genomic tests, we were up there, we saw more revenue there. Our investments obviously were positive, so we had multiple things that pick the slack up and put us in a positive position while others don't perform as well as you'd hope. Our associations, much like anybody's entity at home, you stay diversified. You hope that across the board we end up at a positive revenue, but you have areas that perform better some years and areas that don't perform as well, but they pick each other up and get us to a positive spot by the end of the year.
MIRANDA REIMAN: Absolutely. The last thing I'm going to ask you about is kind of a side note, but I think it is an important note. We talked a little bit about credit card charges and the ability to have some ACH payment available.
JONATHAN PERRY: Yeah. We are instituting the ACH payment option. While I think it will ease some of the credit card fees, I think it's very important that our membership understands, while we're not proposing a change today, but we basically eat a 600 and something thousand dollars fee per year for charges that come back from credit card companies for all the work that's paid for with credit cards. This has grown exponentially. I've been on the board seven years and I think it's doubled in the timeframe that I've been on the board. So it's getting to be a glaring spot that I think we have to look at and try to figure out a way to offset that expense or do something about it because it is becoming a major item on our budget that we really don't know how to tackle at the moment.
MIRANDA REIMAN: And hopefully with an ACH option, that also makes it convenient for members too, right?
JONATHAN PERRY: The ACH option will make it more convenient for members. It will hopefully offset some of those credit card costs, but more than anything, I think it will really ease the burden of members from a transaction standpoint.
MIRANDA REIMAN: So if I sum up your treasurer's report, positive bottom lines, growth, but we're watching our counting our pennies, is that everything?
JONATHAN PERRY: That is, I mean, we had a great year. Just remember that one of the reasons we are where we are today is because we had foresight in individuals that sat on this board way before we did that, watched that bottom line and left the funds available for us to be able to utilize 'em when things came along that we needed to add to or invest in for our membership. And so I think it's important that we maintain that flexibility and keep reserves in a positive spot and keep some backup so we can do those things.
MIRANDA REIMAN: Very good. Well, at the conclusion of the meeting you were elected Vice chair of the American Angus Association Board of Directors. So congratulations to you, and we look forward to your leadership.
JONATHAN PERRY: Thank you. Thank you. Quite an honor.