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By Maggie Jenkins
Trust and transparency go hand-in-hand. That’s why we at Alliant continually work to make sure our members know as much about us as they can – and that includes knowing about Alliant’s board of directors and what they do.
Alliant’s board ensures that the credit union’s management upholds the company’s member-focused mission and vision.
“Lately, we’re seeing headline after headline about some large banks losing trust and acting in a predatory fashion or a deceptive fashion or even a fraudulent fashion, so whom can you trust? You can trust a credit union, specifically Alliant, because our interests are aligned. We have only one reason for existing and that is to serve the interest of the member owners,” said Alliant President and CEO Dave Mooney.
Foley & Lardner LLP recently honored Alliant’s board of directors with its 2016 National Directors Institute Not-for-Profit Private Company Board of the Year award. It’s always nice to receive accolades, but this recognition really demonstrates the trust and transparency Alliant is always striving for.
The specific activities of a credit union’s board are outlined in the federal or state credit union acts and in the credit union’s bylaws. In short, though, a board holds management accountable while overseeing operations and ensuring a company’s executives are moving the organization in the right direction.
“The traditional analogy used to describe a board’s role is that management is driving the bus and the board is sitting on the bus, making sure it’s following the right path and making appropriate decisions,” said Ed Rogowski, Alliant’s Chairperson of the Board.
Mooney said Alliant’s board of directors provides oversight, sets strategic direction and priorities, cultivates executive talent and holds management accountable – which is one of a board’s most important duties.
“The board can be supportive and trusting, but it is still incumbent on them to question and challenge,” Mooney said.
For example, Alliant’s board encouraged management to implement a digital-based platform as quickly as possible for the benefit of Alliant’s members.
A board of directors is a body individuals, either elected or appointed, who collectively oversee a company’s business activities.
At Alliant, all board members are elected and all positions are unpaid. The board is comprised of 11 total directors, including Alliant’s CEO and a chairperson, who is elected by the directors. CEO Mooney is the only Alliant employee on the credit union’s board of directors.
Unlike a majority of companies, Alliant also has term limits for the board’s directors, who can serve up to 10 one-year terms. Many governance experts recommend term limits for directors.
“The downside to term limits is that we lose good people, but the even bigger upside is that we are constantly replenishing the pool and bringing in people with new perspectives,” Mooney said.
“Our directors are all executives with proven careers outside of Alliant across a range of fields – financial, tech, e-commerce, legal, human resources – and they bring that experience when we’re discussing what’s going on with Alliant,” said Rogowski, who is Senior Vice President of Internal Audit and Chief Audit Executive (CAE) at Anixter.
A sampling of other Alliant board members include: Julian Chu, Director of Advertisers Services for Google; Irwin I. Gzesh, a partner at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP who has been practicing law for more than 30 years; and Anne Pease, Vice President of Benefits and an officer for RR Donnelley.
“Our board members are volunteering their time to what is highly complex and demanding work, so they really are acting in accordance with their belief that this is a great institution and they want to maintain it for the members,” said Assistant Secretary to the Board Lee Schafer, who also serves as Alliant’s Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs and Chief Administrative Officer. “They take seriously that they represent our member owners, and they take very seriously their role in ensuring we continue to be a safe and sound institution.”
The board has worked closely with management as Alliant implemented a multi-year strategic plan that has enhanced member services with an emphasis on digital banking. This plan has resulted in the new Alliant Mobile App and improvements to Alliant Online Banking, among other things.
“The board has taken a look at Alliant’s longer-term strategy, and in addition to being a cost leader with great rates, we want to provide state-of-the-art, digital-based services to our membership,” Rogowski said.
About five years ago, the board and management also worked to develop a plan to enhance and expand Alliant’s loan products and services.
In recent years, Alliant’s board has even started performing periodic self-evaluations to find ways to make their meetings more effective and efficient. They’ve also identified process improvements and training opportunities, and updated all of the board’s materials to ensure they’re utilizing best practices.
To learn more about Alliant’s board of directors, please visit our Board of Directors page on the Alliant website.
Maggie Jenkins is the PR and Social Media Specialist at Alliant. She began her career as a sports journalist for newspapers in Utica, N.Y., Des Moines and Cincinnati before moving to Chicago in 2009. Maggie is a six-time Chicago Marathon finisher and a lifelong creative writer with a passion for comedy. Her mom instilled in her a great sense of fiscal responsibility, and her big sister told her to throw that responsibility out the window every once in a while in the name of life experience. So far, that combination of financial advice has worked out pretty well for her.