After graduating from the State University of New York at Albany, Danny Peltz went west and found himself in California working for a then-regional bank with a one-state presence. Today, the bank -- Wells Fargo (San Francisco) -- is the fifth largest in the U.S. with assets of $492 billion, and Peltz serves as EVP of its Wholesale Internet and Treasury Solutions Group. Despite the jump in the bank's profile, Peltz says Wells Fargo is committed to delivering commercial customers a one-stop source for Internet banking services and products, and he's ready to listen to their needs.
BS&T: What's the history behind the Wholesale Internet and Treasury Solutions Group?
Peltz: We started the Wholesale Internet Solutions Group in 1999 as a result of a strategic decision by the bank to focus on the Internet. The goal was to create a centralized group that would bring Internet initiatives from different lines of business together under one roof. That group created the Commercial Electronic Office (CEO) portal: a single-sign-on financial portal for our wholesale banking customers to access all [of Wells Fargo's commercial] services.
Today, about 70 percent of our commercial customers use CEO, and it became natural to combine all treasury business into a Wholesale Internet and Treasury Solutions Group. I became EVP of the group in 2004.
BS&T: What are some of the key technology challenges you face as EVP of the group?
Peltz: Technology is not the problem. The challenge is really around people and processes, and building a culture that is able to harness the power of technology. Getting Application A to talk to Application B is easily solvable. But how to take Application A to a different level to provide better service to your customers is my biggest technology challenge.
BS&T: What was the impetus behind the CEO portal, and what benefit does it offer customers?
Peltz: Our initial vision was to create a common integration point across all our different applications and services. This framework includes a common user interface, common administration function and a single sign-on so that even though we offer 50 products and services spanning treasury, brokerage and commercial paper, the customer experience would be the same.
Customers have a single place to have an electronic relationship with Wells Fargo. For example, customers can send wires, process payroll, make a brokerage trade, draw down money from their line, manage their purchasing and expenditures, do check imaging, and make check deposits on the Internet with a single sign-on.
BS&T: Were customers asking for this functionality?
Peltz: We incorporate our customers' desires and wish lists into our product development. For example, gathering feedback from our customer advisory councils is part and parcel of building out our solutions. We listen to our customers and focus on what our customers need rather than on what we need. As we develop our financial products and services, we ask ourselves three questions: What can we do to make it easier for our customers to do business with their customers, partners and vendors? What can we do to make it easier for my customers to do business with me? And, finally, What can I do to make it easier for my employees to do business with my customers? As long as you frame your results around those three questions, you'll be successful.
BS&T: How did Wells Fargo approach security for the CEO portal?
Peltz: We wanted to create an overriding security layer so the underlying products and services don't have to worry about security. We are able to control security as a common framework and make it simpler for the customer to use. We were the first bank to launch the single-sign-on portal, and we were the first bank to leverage token cards to provide a tool for authentication on the commercial side.
We also practice extremely good security hygiene. For example, we require customers to change their passwords every 60 days, we have dual initiation control, and we use workflow and audit tools to provide a more secure environment for our customers.