Choosing a Board of Directors for the Public Bank of Oakland


There are long-term goals to restructure the Public Bank of Oakland, and each goal has many steps. The first one includes the initial launching process, which is something that must be set whenever an infrastructure gets redone. The second involves forming a working Board of Directors who are skilled and trained to lead a public bank. The third is setting aside a training program known as an Academy, which is designed to train new directors for the job. The final part is establishing loan requirement policies that are specifically suited for public institutions of this nature.

A good plan capitalizes on the knowledge of similar banking institutions. This gives its creators enough knowledge of other existing frameworks for similar banking institutions and can guide other parts, such as community outreach programs and public interest and involvement. 

Getting Started

A qualified team must be gathered in order to effectively guide the opening process. During this phase, the team will need to oversee the transition from approval to the official Grand Opening of the Public Bank of Oakland. This team is also responsible for the complex decision-making involved during the launching phase. At this point, everything must be as diplomatic as possible, so decisions are made as a group and not just one individual. The Launch Team comprises the following components. One is that they must be members of the parent group Friends of the Public Bank of Oakland. The next one is the treasurers of the jurisdictions of those invested in the banks as well as elected local officials.

Other team members should include various directors who have knowledge and experience in areas of banking law and can help the institution grow. The team will also need to hire a CEO and try to encourage other stakeholders to become involved as well. 

Once the above is completed, then a building location and office space will need to be chosen. Active recruitment of new Directors can still be done as this is going on. The training academy should also be built in a way that ensures training is highly effective. Investments in excellent technology need to be done while other duties are performed as needed.

Board of Directors 

Our mission statement is the guide that we use when selecting and making decisions regarding our Board of Directors. Our value system also plays a key role in the decision-making process as well as the opinions and views of the people.

Board Size and Composition 

The size and make-up of your board of directors typically include a total of 15 Directors. This is similar to a model adopted from public bank institutions in Germany which hold roughly the same number of directors on their board. The number of people who are elected to serve on the board is eight citizens, two council members, one of whom can be from Oakland while the other serves in a different municipality, and a lawyer who is fluent in banking laws and regulations. Two more are selected who have extensive banking experience, and one will be an employee who is not in senior management. The final appointee should be someone with extensive knowledge of corporate compliance standards.

The ex officio non-voting board members will be the CEO and three treasurers, one of whom will be from Oakland while the other serves in Alameda. The third Treasurer will be someone who serves in Richmond, Berkeley.

Through experience and research, it is known that a slightly larger size for a board of directors offers an opportunity for diverse outlooks and experience. Each member brings their background and knowledge, all of which can help a structure grow. The majority of members from the community consider the needs and goals of the people while political leaders and lawyers know the current regulations and procedures. Those who know compliance can be on guard for potential ethics violations. The system of checks and balances remains strong and effective.

Selecting Directors

Choosing a director is done by location. Most who are chosen come from Oakland, Berkeley, or Richmond. A diverse group from differing locations brings different ideas to the team and can build a strong foundation for a growing public bank and its clients.

To become a board member, candidates are expected to submit to a conflict of interest examination where they will be scrutinized for any issues that may stand in their way as they serve. Once done, they will be tested on various aspects of banking theory and its applications. From there, they will go through the selection process before being admitted. Once admitted, they are expected to serve three years on the board.

Removing Directors 

The bank reserves the right to remove or replace any Director who does not participate or who fails to comply with the laws and regulations of serving on the board of directors. Some rules allow for the removal of directors who present a poor image or reputation to the community.

Relations Among Bank Management, Staff, and Local Governments 

Before launching a board of directors, a CEO will be chosen. This is on a two-three year contract and once done, the appointee will be under the scrutiny of the board. The CEO will be approved by a board of directors if they are already completely established at the time the CEO candidate has applied.

Consumer account information is held confidential and is off-limits to directors. Directors will not be asked to approve or deny loan applications. However, directors can audit the process and ensure that there are no conflicts of interest before disbursing any loan funds.

All directors must provide accurate reports and performance evaluations of all bank employees. This needs to be done on an annual basis. They must also provide appropriate feedback to management for their performance and exact rightful measures when the bank loses money.

Salary and Compensation of Directors 

Members of the board of directors can opt for an annual salary as offered by the bank. Acceptance of pay is not required and serving on the board is voluntary.

Making Decisions 

There are times when critical decisions must be made. Sometimes a majority rule approach might be effective, or there may be a need for a group consensus. The majority rule method may silence those who disagree while a consensus requires more weighing of the pros and cons of each decision and can be time-consuming. In this case, the better method is consent, which is much more effective and efficient than either.

Routine Meetings 

The initial meetings should be more frequent as the board of directors gets established. Once everything is in good working order, then directors should consider quarterly meetings to discuss policies and procedures. If needed, directors may call emergency meetings or hold one at their discretion.

Directors are encouraged to follow specific community models by making their meetings open to the public as much as possible, except in cases where private information is discussed among the board members. Annual public meetings are strongly encouraged where the public can bring food and drink. In cases of private meetings, it is suggested but not mandatory for directors to allow space for public content. Routine self-evaluation of performance among the board of directors is strongly encouraged for optimal service.