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Huntington Bancshares CEO Stephen Steinour Eyes IT Efficiency

Stephen Steinour, who was elected in January as the new chairman, president and CEO of Huntington Bancshares, says he's not looking to make a technology leader of the Columbus, Ohio-based bank. Rather he expects it to continue to reap the benefits of ongoing improvements through IT.

"I don't think of us necessarily as a technology leader," says Steinour of Huntington Bancshares, a somewhat surprising statement given that the bank was the first in the U.S. to use videoconferencing for customer service (in the mid-1990s) and now is a pioneer in mobile banking (Huntington formed the industry group Bankers Alliance for the Mobile Arena, or BAMA, which is hosted on LinkedIn). "We don't need to take the risks of being a leader," he adds, classifying Huntington as "a fast follower" with strengths in particular technology areas.

Size isn't the issue, Steinour notes. "Huntington is a third of the size of the bank I was at and has the same technology and robustness, which is unusual," he says, referring to his stint as president, CEO and vice chairman of Citizens Financial Group (Providence, R.I.), which he left in early 2007. With $55 billion in assets, Huntington ranks 23rd among U.S. banks, whereas Citizens Financial's $162 billion in assets puts it among the top ten. (After leaving Citizens, Steinour was a managing partner with Boston-based asset management firm CrossHarbor Capital Partners.)

Huntington, Steinour continues, has done a notably good job of employing the technology it has — both internally, through improving workflow, and externally, by marketing its advances effectively to consumers. Nonetheless, he adds, he doesn't subscribe to the view that technology efficiencies have been exhausted by the banking industry. "There are efficiencies to be made, not just for saving money but also product enhancement and additional service," he says, identifying remote deposit capture as one technology that increasingly will reshape banking.

"There will continue to be change," Steinour notes, "but it will be slower as dollars are restricted."

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