At Huntington National Bank in Columbus, Ohio, technology is a vital part of the bank's growth and strategic vision. As such, says Stephen George, the newly appointed CIO for retail and business banking, he will play a significant role in how the bank utilizes technological innovation in bringing new products to market and keeping up with ever-increasing regulatory burdens.
Serving in this new role comes at an exciting time in the bank's history, George notes. "Huntington -- being a growth company -- it's a great thing for us in the tech space," he says. "It means a lot of work for us, but a lot of pressure to deliver also."
George previously served as the chief technology officer at Huntington ($54 billion in total assets) for two and a half years before assuming his current role. In his old position as CTO, George says, he was largely responsible for app development, production support and architecture testing. "This new role is much more focused on the strategic delivery side of things," he adds. "I think of it as being an ambassador between the tech side and the retail and business part of the company."
According to George, one of the major undertakings he is helping oversee in his new role involves speeding up the time to market for new products. "There is a lot of focus on using agile technologies and leveraging business rules to provide a faster turnaround," he relates.
George confirms that technology will also be a key part of helping the bank navigate the muddy and ever-rising regulatory waters. "Regulation and risk is a big focus," he says. "We're constantly keeping up with all the risk and regulatory requirements coming down -- what they mean and when [compliance solutions] are due. There's a greater pressure than ever to meet those dates."
A Strong Channel Focus
Nonetheless, George stresses, his team will continue to work on the bank's overarching goals of achieving a more customer-focused view of channel development and channel integration. "The customer has more channels than ever to interact with us, from branches and ATMs all the way down to the mobile space," George says. "Really, the customer dictates how and when they want to access their banking information."
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The bank, he continues, is "making a pretty significant investment" in its mobile offering and in enhancing its online banking channel, both of which are big growth channels for the bank, George says, noting that users of those channels also tend to be more engaged customers. Whereas someone who primarily uses the branch channel may come in once or twice a month, he explains, Huntington's online banking customers log in on average five to eight times a month, and mobile users access their accounts 15 to 20 times per month.
But, "None of the other channels are going away," George acknowledges. "We're still seeing significant use of the branch and call center. It's about what's most convenient for the customers. Some small business customers might need to do things in the branch. There's a convenient option out there for every customer at every interface."
George, who previously spent four years at JPMorgan Chase in a CTO capacity and 15 years at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), works alongside peer CIOs in the commercial and corporate banking space, all of whom report to Huntington EVP and CIO Zahid Afzal. "A large amount of the work goes through our channel," George says. "It's an exciting time to be in banking, and it creates a lot of work in IT, which is always a good thing."