BS&T: How would you describe the merger between The Bank of New York and Mellon Financial?
Briand: The merger is a complementary coming together of two businesses. Mellon had a strong franchise in its working capital and cash management solutions for domestic banks, nonbank financial companies and U.S.-based corporations. The Bank of New York had a top-tier position with global and domestic financial institutions. There was very little overlap in client relationships and product offerings; the merger created a broad franchise with strength in a multitude of markets.
BS&T: In what phase is the integration?
Briand: We've identified our target systems and are methodically and thoughtfully migrating our customers to those systems. That will be completed at the end of 2009.
BS&T: How did you select which systems would remain?
Briand: The integration wasn't about cost savings but about selecting the correct technology. We analyzed each product and application and selected the best platform. The merger was a tremendous opportunity for us because we're left with a best-of-breed operations and technology portfolio.
BS&T: What are some of the integration challenges?
Briand: We need to methodically integrate our systems and operations over the next two years while not missing a beat in addressing client needs, acquiring new customers, developing new product capabilities and continuing to offer top-shelf service. During other mergers I've been involved with, individuals are asked to balance business as usual with integration activities, and usually one didn't get the quality and attention it deserved. To ensure we do an excellent job at both, we've segregated resources, enabling individuals to devote full-time attention to both agendas. As a result we have been able to introduce new products and services to the marketplace even as we go through the integration.
BS&T: How do your white-label treasury management services support the overall bank strategy?
Briand: Neither legacy Mellon nor The Bank of New York had a retail bank, so we don't compete with financial institutions with a retail or small-business practice. We can partner with a bank to provide two types of solutions: products and services that help them create more efficiency in their back office and white-label products they can use to grow their business.
For example, we just introduced a white-labeled global remittance product called Remit Worldwide to domestic banks that allows their retail customers to send money back home to family and friends. This solution leverages our international correspondent network so banks that may not have the wherewithal to navigate cross-border payments can do so.
BS&T: Has the white-label strategy been successful?
Briand: This has been a fast-growing market for us. Our financial institution customers pay as they go. They only pay for what they can generate, rather than having to make a sizable up-front technology investment.
BS&T: What role does technology play in your success?
Briand: To be successful in this market it's critical that we provide dependability and stability. That's what we market to our customers. Technology allows us to keep up with the marketplace and to be flexible enough to adjust and develop our products to our customers' needs. We want to adapt our products in ways that translate into cost savings for our customers.
BS&T: In what ways does the Treasury Services group collaborate with the rest of the bank?
Briand: Treasury Services is responsible for our own payments engine. We have to efficiently process the transactions that emanate from within our various businesses. The Bank of New York Mellon has a tremendous position in asset servicing and corporate trust as well as treasury services. Our clients expect that our products will work seamlessly and that we will coordinate implementation and provide a consistent service level and quality. We need to work together and not act as separate businesses.
BS&T: What will drive growth in your organization in the coming year?
Briand: We are following several strategies. One is new product development. We want to give our salespeople compelling reasons to call on clients, and we want to give our clients compelling reasons to accept the call. We do that by having a steady stream of new products that are enticing to our clients.
The second strategy is building on the complementary nature of our business as a result of the merger. We have many products and services that were legacy The Bank of New York and many that were legacy Mellon that our respective client bases didn't have access to. We're focused on cross-selling and making sure that our one client base has access to that full portfolio of products. For example, many of our U.S. domestic corporate clients from Mellon are very intrigued by the international and money movement products that we offer from The Bank of New York.
We're also driving new client acquisition. Clients want to deal with a bank that is committed to trade, cash management and payments. They know we are investing in developing new products and global capabilities. New client acquisition is growing at fast rates.
BS&T: What kinds of organizations -- financial institutions or others -- do you view as your key competitors?
Briand: We compete against other global financial institutions that have a diverse product portfolio. Second, we compete against smaller financial institutions that may be local to our customers or indigenous to other countries. We also compete against niche players, such as processing companies or companies that have a strength in one of the products that we offer.
We see ourselves as a combination of all of those competitors. We are in a very unique position in that we have a global presence, we are a technology-processing company and we provide top-tier service as if we were just down the street.
BS&T: What's your greatest career challenge?
Briand: What worked for us last year won't work for us this year because we face new challenges and have new tools at our disposal. My greatest challenge is to personally evolve as well. If you use the same techniques, measures and approaches year after year, you'll find that you're not keeping up with the times.
It's been almost a year since The Bank of New York (New York) and Mellon Financial Corp. (Pittsburgh) completed their merger -- on paper, at least. Systems integration work continues at the global financial institution, according to Al Briand, who was named cohead of the organization's treasury services integration efforts. But even during the integration, business won't wait. As managing director, product management and business strategy, for The Bank of New York Mellon's ($23 trillion in assets under custody and administration) Treasury Services group, Briand says he still has to provide customers with new products.