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Meet FEI's 1992-93 chairman.

"The members of FEI are outstanding people. I don't know them all, but I'd like to," says FEI's 1992-93 chairman, Clarence (Chris) Christie, senior vice president and treasurer of Sedgwick James, Inc. A most rewarding aspect of his years as a member of FEI, Christie says, is the wonderful people and the many friends he has made. "I feel very honored to have been elected chairman."

Christie on conferences...

Christie's admiration for FEI's members is expressed again and again when he discusses FEI activities, particularly in connection with FEI's conferences. While he strongly believes that a conference is very successful "if I can come out with a couple of new ideas," the most valuable aspect of a conference to Christie is the opportunity to meet his peers. "I enjoy meeting people and getting a chance to talk to them about my problems, their problems, or whatever problems," he says.

Christie does have some advice for other conference attendees. He advises that you must make an effort and work at meeting people. If you do, he says, conferences are "a great opportunity to make new friends and see people you've known from prior associations." And he points out that a conference attendee can't expect to come out with a "textbook" full of things you've never thought of before, but that "it's rare that you go home without one or two good ideas to work on."

... on talented committee members

He praises the technical committee members. "Technical committees contain very talented people and are very powerful. They really are a voice to be reckoned with. I think that's apparent in the outcome of some of the efforts they've undertaken" on behalf of FEI members, Christie states. He recognizes that technical committee members take on a heavy workload that makes it difficult for them to participate in many other FEI functions. As an example, he says, there are so many issues on which FEI's Committee on Corporate Reporting is working, you need an hour just to review them.

He believes FEI does "a great job" keeping members informed on the issues affecting financial executives through Financial Executive magazine, Briefing newsletter, President's Report to the Member, ship, and the Area Operations Committee (AOC) meetings. "That's of immense value," he says, but again repeats that, for him, meeting other FEI members is the most rewarding aspect of his FEI membership.

... on public relations

On plans for his year as FEI chairman, Christie is adamant. "The thing I want to accomplish during my tenure is to get a real start on a public relations program for FEI so we can capitalize on all the great things our people are doing." He thanks the efforts of his two predecessor chairmen, Bob Patrick and Jack Edman, FEI board member Bryan Roub, and the FEI staff for "putting the problems Of the magazine behind FEI," and declares, "The latest issue of Financial Executive (March/April) is just outstanding."

Christie says he would like to see the time and effort that FEI's officers and board previously devoted to discussing the magazine now devoted to building FEI's image. "FEI President Norm Roy and the staff have done a wonderful job of getting that effort started," says Christie, "and we really have an opportunity now to capitalize on it. We're beginning to get recognition. You can see that," he explains, "by the fact that recently we had Secretary of the Treasury Brady speak to the board in Washington, and we've had Secretary of Labor Lynn Martin make a presentation to the New York City Chapter's CFO Advisory Council." Also, Elizabeth Dole, then Secretary of Labor, spoke at the 1990 Annual Conference in Chicago.

"People are beginning to understand who we are. I want to see us further that by having a concentrated public relations effort." Christie says he hopes "some day I will walk up to a new FEI member and he's going to tell me that he joined, not because somebody he knows is a member, but because he's read about us, he's seen things about us, and he says, |I've got to belong to that organization.'"

... on program ideas

As an executive of an international insurance brokerage, Christie has found the New York City Chapter's insurance industry group rewarding. The chapter also has a foreign banking group. These groups are for professional development and usually meet two or three times a year with a presentation by someone in the industry. However, he points out that these sections work well in New York because the New York City Chapter is a big chapter and there are many insurance and foreign banking people in the city.

At the 60th Annual Conference, special breakfasts were held by job classification and these were very successful, he says. "FEI should definitely consider having sessions by industry or company size as well as by job classification at conferences." Christie suggests these should have an agenda for discussion and a recognized figure in the industry as moderator or to give a presentation.

... on criteria for membership

FEI's Planning Committee has been reviewing the qualifications for membership. "FEI's leadership does not intend to lower standards," Christie states. "But everyone recognizes that the financial executive today is a different person than he was 30 years ago. He comes from many different disciplines, and he's dealing with many issues that he never dealt with before. It is probably time that we update the criteria. We're going to do something about it, but that does not mean we're lowering the standards," he concludes.
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Title Annotation:From FEI; Financial Executives Institute Chmn Clarence Christie
Author:Deitsch, Mimi
Publication:Financial Executive
Date:May 1, 1992
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