John Listak

‘Don’t be afraid to take a chance’

CUNA Lending Council Conference winner knows the member experience is top priority.

November 13, 2019

When designing a new lending system, John Listak, manager of lending solutions at $11.8 billion asset Alliant Credit Union in Chicago, knows to keep the member experience top of mind. Listak was named Rising Star at the CUNA Lending Council Conference.

Congratulations on your Rising Star Award. What’s your background and how did you get to where you are today?

John Listak: I started at Alliant in May 2014 when I was hired as our consumer loan origination system specialist. Alliant made the decision to build their own loan origination system (LOS), and they brought me to be a part of the project team.

It was a three-year process, and we launched in quarter one of 2017 with our auto and Visa products, our home equity later in 2017, and recreational vehicles in early 2018.

We had up to 55 people on our team with our onshore and offshore development and testing team. I was working very closely with all of them gathering requirements, working with end users on training, and finally, the launch. Now that it’s live, I’ve been working with the end users to make enhancements, make fixes, and other lending initiatives.

What have the results been so far?

Listak: They’ve been very positive. We use Net Promoter Score (NPS) to track our member satisfaction and after the launch of the LOS, we saw big increases in the NPS from members looking for loans.

We’ve also received great feedback from our internal staff as well. They’ve given us positive feedback about how it’s an inclusive system where before they needed to go out into three or four different systems to login, check different FIS checks, or get valuations on autos. Now we’ve integrated that into one system so it’s much more efficient.

What drew you to lending and what excites you the most about it now?

Listak: What really drew me to lending was this role of building our own LOS. It’s something that not a lot of other credit unions, or even banks, do. Alliant was very forward thinking. We want to control the whole member experience, and we looked at a couple of vendors and couldn’t really find anyone that we really liked. We thought, ‘let’s do it ourselves and see what we can do.’

Tell us about your documentation automation process.

Listak: We’ve been working very closely with DocuSign to try to make a better experience for the member. We looked at some of the processes we have that a member might call in for, for example, a personal identification change form, or a wire transfer form, and saw the amount of time it takes to mail the form out to the member and then for them sign it and fax it back to us. We started looking at what DocuSign could do with their Power Forms package and realized this is something that we could have the member complete online and create a workflow that integrates with our back office and the member could complete it much quicker and have a better member experience.

What’s the next big thing for Alliant’s lending area?

Listak: The biggest thing we’re focusing on now is what we call our human-centered design and how to improve the member experience. Things like improving our credit limit increase application to just ask the member what their income and monthly expenses are instead of making them fill out the whole application again. Let’s make it as easy as possible for the member.

What advice do you have for your lending peers?

Listak: Don’t be afraid to fail. We’ve tried some things with the LOS that didn’t work too well, but we learned from them. That’s the biggest thing. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to take a chance, but if you do fail, make sure you learn from it.

Read& more conference coverage and listen to a CUNA News Podcast with Bill Vogeney, John Listak, and others. Learn more about the CUNA Lending Council, a member-led professional society for credit union executives, at