Apogee Awards Honorees: Richard Helber

Meet Richard Helber of Tropical Financial Credit Union, an honoree in the Banking category at the 2020 Apogee Awards

I grew up in Kansas City and received a B.S. degree in finance from the University of Missouri. I’ve accumulated 40 years of executive experience with credit unions in Kansas City, Detroit, Tampa and now Southeast Florida. I’ve held board positions with the National Automated Clearing House Association, League of Southeast Credit Unions and local chapters of the American Red Cross in Tampa and Broward County. Married for 30 years with two grown boys. Working on grandchildren.


Fun fact: Scuba Diver

What is your favorite South Florida dining destination? La Brochette Bistro in Cooper City is a hidden gem.

What do you like to do on weekends? Golf, then tend to my flower beds and landscape.

How do you unwind from a long day at work? A glass of good wine with my wife.

What is your favorite quote? “Just because the future is clear doesn’t mean it’s close.” — Bucky Sebastian

From whom, or what, do you draw inspiration? I get a lot of motivation from watching my peer credit union CEOs. There’s a lot of innovation going on in the financial services industry and it energizes me to pick up the pace.

What has been the biggest accomplishment of your career? I came into the CEO position at Tropical Financial Credit Union at the height of the Great Recession. After losing money in the prior two years and under regulatory scrutiny, we were able to restructure the organization and return to a path of growth and innovation. Many other financial institutions didn’t make it. 2020 marks our 85th anniversary and we’re looking forward to turning 100.

What has been the most challenging moment in your career and how did you overcome it? When Katrina hit New Orleans, our credit union had four branches located on Canal Street and in the Ninth Ward. It took three days to locate our employees and one branch was completely submerged. It took a year to recover and demanded a lot of creative problem solving and decision making.

What advice would you give an up and coming professional? Pay attention to the culture. Having a high level of technical know how will only take you so far in your career. Knowing how to build a collaborative and participative environment will take you further.

SFBW Staff
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