Ancin Cooley, left, discusses his presentation with a conference attendee.

Relationships key to supervisory committee role

Vigilance, curiosity critical to effective governance.

December 16, 2022

Ancin Cooley, principal of Synergy Credit Union Consulting, offered attendees several “outside-the-box” job responsibilities during his general session at the 2022 CUNA Supervisory Committee & Internal Audit Conference Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Four responsibilities are:

  1. Develop deep relationships and perspectives. Relationships are a two-sided coin. Cooley says that many supervisory committees end up resigning because of constant pushback from management and the board. He says member-elected supervisory committees tend to speak with a louder voice. “When you whittle it down and get away from all the guidance what it really comes down to is relationships,” Cooley says. “In the end, all of our findings needed to be communicated pragmatically and with emotional intelligence to come up with win-win solutions.”
  2. Challenge management. The board sets the credit union’s risk appetite through written policy and management designs controls to stay within that policy. “Your role as a supervisory committee member is to independently test those controls to ensure that management is staying within the board’s appetite for risk,” Cooley says.
  3. Be curious and vigilant. Many times, supervisory committee members require clarification, but the management team member with the best knowledge isn’t in the meeting. Committee members should be proactive in inviting any management team members who can answer key questions. At the same time, management members without a key role in supervisory committee meetings are often best left exempt from attendance, Cooley says.
  4. Be an independent and pragmatic thinker. Supervisory committee members should approach their role with a growth mindset, always looking for challenges and ways to improve the governance process, Cooley says. “You have to be comfortable in your vocation but also be comfortable to think outside the given framework that’s presented to you,” Cooley says.