The Online Finance 40: Banking

Profiling: Sanjay Gupta of Bank of America Corp., Kevin Kessinger of Citigroup and Clyde Ostler of Wells Fargo & Co.

Sanjay Gupta

Consumer and Small Business

E-commerce/ATM Executive,

Bank of America Corp.

Last year’s rank: 2

Last year Bank of America Corp. of Charlotte, North Carolina, reaped the rewards of its $35 billion, 2005 acquisition of credit card giant MBNA Corp. of Wilmington, Delaware. BofA increased its online subscribers by 44.9 percent, to 21.3 million; its number of online bill payers by 52.1 percent, to 11.1 million; and the average number of bills it processes by 17.5 percent, to an average of 41.6 million a month. Overseeing the bank’s bustling web site, which is so busy it ranks ahead of in popularity, is Sanjay Gupta, who is quick to point out that most of the features of the site have become available on the go at “Pretty much anything you can do at your PC, you can now do on your phone,” says Gupta, 38. He also sings the praises of the new check-imaging capabilities at many of the bank’s 17,000 ATMs. No deposit envelope is needed; customers just punch in their pin numbers and slide their checks into the feeder. The ATM tells them how much the deposit is for and prints a receipt with an image of the check right on it. “We’ve seen a 50 percent increase in the deposits on those machines that have the feature,” he says.

Kevin Kessinger

Chief Operations & Technology Officer,


Last year’s rank: 6

During the past year Citigroup’s chief operations and technology officer, Kevin Kessinger, has been focusing his attention on reducing the complexity and scope of the firm’s IT operations as part of a company-wide cost-cutting initiative (which includes the layoff of 17,000 employees, announced in April). Citi earmarked four data centers for closure but Kessinger, 53, shuttered 10 centers, resulting in a 19 percent reduction in data center usage. At the same time, a new IT global framework was developed with an eye toward eliminating redundancies and replacing legacy systems. Kessinger predicts the new system will lower Citigroup’s operating costs by $2 billion a year by 2009. However, the focus on cost-reduction doesn’t mean the company has stood still. Last year it launched CitiDirect, an online bank that allows consumers to open an account in less than 10 minutes; the service attracted almost $10 billion in deposits in its first nine months. With this new distribution channel, Citi’s online banking presence grew significantly in 2006: overall initial sales were up 1,129 percent, total accounts funded rose 466 percent, home equity loans were up 577 percent, online transactions rose 28 percent, and paperless-statement enrollments increased 103 percent.

Clyde Ostler

Group Executive Vice President and Head of Internet Services,

Wells Fargo & Co.

Last year’s rank: 4

Clyde Ostler, head of Internet services for San Francisco–based Wells Fargo & Co., believes that the best way to entice customers to online banking is by making the bank’s Web site as user-friendly as possible. “If we can make the site easy, that will result in more sales,” says Ostler, 60. One of his recent innovations has been to position the bank as a personal online-data repository for all things financial; Wells’s Web site, for instance, will store a customer’s check images for seven years. And while other banks have worked hard to educate clients on the risks of identity theft, Wells Fargo has put the onus on itself. “Our approach is to do all of the necessary security behind the scenes and take responsibility ourselves for that,” says Ostler. “We give a 100 percent guarantee to the customer if anyone should move their money.” The strategy seems to be working. Last year Wells Fargo increased its online customers by 29.2 percent, to 9.3 million users, who logged on to an average of 65 million online sessions a month.

Come back tomorrow to view profiles of the Dealmakers in the Online Finance 40.

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