President of Consumer and Commercial Bank Products for Ally Bank,
Ally Financial

When Diane Morais became Ally Bank’s president in 2015, the digital-only depository was already a remarkable growth story.

Since shedding the bailout-addled GMAC brand, Ally had grown its deposit base at a rate more than four times faster than the industry as a whole.

The soaring deposits delivered a relatively low-cost source of funding for Ally’s flagship auto lending business. It was fueled by a simple formula: Pay high yields, and don’t hit customers with gotcha fees.

The problem was that Ally had very few products to sell to its digital-savvy depositors. Particularly at a time of rising interest rates, customers might be tempted to bolt for higher rates on offer at another bank.

Morais was charged with rectifying the situation, and she has moved quickly.

Morais drove the plan to acquire TradeKing, an online brokerage platform, for $275 million. The service was recently rebranded as Ally Invest; it offers trades in stocks and exchange-traded funds for $4.95.

She also oversaw the introduction of Ally’s inaugural credit card, a cash-back offering that is issued by TD Bank, as well as the bank’s re-entry into the mortgage business.

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Morais, who worked at Bank of America and Citigroup before joining Ally in 2008, is paying close attention to what millennials want from their bank.

“They don’t want to hunt and peck. They don’t want to stand in line,” she told American Banker in a recent podcast interview. During this year’s first quarter, almost 60% of Ally’s new customers were members of the digital-native generation.

One feature that has proven popular is Ally Assist, which launched two years ago in the bank’s iPhone app, and uses artificial intelligence to answer questions from users who would prefer not to make a phone call. “Customers love it,” Morais said.

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