Customer Stories

First Citizens Bank

First Citizens Bank, an Iowa state-chartered bank, uses OnBoard’s board management software to increase efficiency and deliver a consistent, improved process for its boards, committees, and loan approval processes.

First Citizens Bank
First Citizens Bank logo


Industry: Banks

Service area: North central Iowa and Mora, Minnesota

Board Management Goals

  • Increase efficiency
  • Establish consistent board/committee processes
  • Increase time spent on high-value tasks
  • Cost-effective platform


  • 50-70% increase in efficiency
  • Delivers consistent process for board/committees
  • Improves loan approval processes/governance practices
  • Cost below similar products

Bottom Line: OnBoard's Good for the Board, Good for Business

First Citizens Bank is a locally owned financial institution serving growing communities in northern Iowa and parts of Minnesota. The bank prides itself on progressively embracing technology as it works to build greater financial well-being for its customers and communities.

As an Iowa state-chartered bank, First Citizens’ nine-member board is required to meet nine times a year but has opted to meet monthly. It also has internal committees, such as its Executive Loan committee, that meet weekly or monthly and are essential to business continuity.

Using OnBoard since January 2019, the bank has seen “dramatic” improvements in efficiency as well as greater consistencies in board management, says Sarah Nielsen, chief financial officer. “But what has been even more powerful for our organization is how we’ve utilized OnBoard in committees to improve some of the loan approval processes and governance practices.”

OnBoard’s capabilities, as well as its low cost—in some cases half the price compared to similar, competing software—made the decision to partner with OnBoard the right one, she says.

"The fact that OnBoard allowed us to work remotely and that we didn't have to scramble to do it — the structure was already in place — was certainly an added benefit and very helpful.”  

— Sarah Nielsen
Chief Financial Officer
First Citizens Bank


The OnBoard Advantage: Timing is Everything

Before OnBoard, Nielsen recalls, “there were a lot of inefficiencies, a lot of challenges to keeping it all straight.” Previous processes had been designed for in-person board meetings, but that changed when board members and employees began working remotely due to COVID-19.

“When we implemented OnBoard, it was pre-COVID. We were not remote workers,” she says. “The fact that OnBoard allowed us to work remotely and that we didn’t have to scramble to do it—the structure was already in place—was certainly an added benefit and very helpful.”

More Efficiency, More Attention to Higher-Value Work

Nielsen remembers how easy it was for First Citizens to move to OnBoard. “It was fairly intuitive,” she says. “Overall, it wasn’t a tough transition.” The OnBoard platform eliminated what Nielsen termed, “chasing paper around,” and aided meeting management by helping publish board and committee information in advance and storing it in one place.

She estimates the loan committees have seen a 50-70% efficiency gain from using OnBoard.

In addition to efficiencies, Nielsen believes OnBoard introduced a better board member experience, including a more consistent process that helps members focus on higher-value work.

“It introduced better practices,” she says. “We really appreciate that you can drop content in and reorganize it as you see fit as you are building an agenda. Those features make life easy.”

First Citizens’ board members are not considered company employees and do not have automatic access to the company’s intranet, the usual place for storing internal documents.

Nielsen now uses OnBoard’s “resources” folder to house important files that board members, need to access, including the numerous policies the board must approve annually. She does this with complete confidence that the information is secure and available only to authorized individuals.

OnBoard's Versatility Adds Value in Unique Ways

“The Executive Loan committee is probably where we have seen the most significant benefit outside of the traditional board opportunities,” Nielsen says. “Once we introduced OnBoard at the Executive Loan committee level, we pushed it down into our regional loan committees, and they are using it weekly.”

Having the Loan Committee and additional supporting committees using OnBoard further streamlines communication and processes.

OnBoard even helps with regulatory compliance. “From a regulatory perspective,” Nielsen says, “we have both the Federal Reserve or the Iowa Division of Banking audit us every 18 months. There is just a ton of documentation that has to be maintained to illustrate that we are doing all the things appropriately. OnBoard has streamlined all those processes.”

In the future, Nielsen believes OnBoard will only get more useful. “I think they are adding functionality that is evolving with the times. The continued improvement is appreciated,” she says.

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