Robert Bardusch, Valley National Bank – cloud opportunistic

Robert Bardusch, Valley National Bank – cloud opportunistic

Valley National Bank, a $23 billion regional bank holding company headquartered in northern New Jersey, is undertaking a widespread technology refresh to improve customer experience and profitability.

With 209 branch locations throughout northern and central New Jersey, New York City, Long Island and Florida it has grown through a series of acquisitions over the years, and its technology hasn’t kept pace.

More than a year ago the board decided to bring in Robert Bardusch, as CIO to update the bank’s systems.

“It was a greenfield opportunity to come in and apply technology, to see ROI where you can touch customers in a more powerful way, reduce your costs, become more collaborative, digitise and make a pretty dramatic impact.”

Bardusch had been the CIO of a $1.5 billion community bank in West Virginia, following 16 years at PNC in Pittsburgh. After six months of talking to all the business units at Valley National and developing a few quick wins, he developed a three-year strategy around four key focus areas:

  • focus on the customer;
  • digitisation to reduce paper and automate processes;
  • become a data-driven organisation;
  • modernise the bank’s infrastructure.

Years of minimal investment in IT had some advantages – the bank didn’t have to rip out massive on-premise infrastructure.

At PNC, Bardusch was responsible for a large data warehouse for Basel 2 and Basel 3 compliance, a project that cost tens of millions of dollars and several years.

By contrast, Valley National is working on a proof 0f concept (PoC) to build its entire data infrastructure in the cloud with significantly less cost and time.

“The technology has really advanced,” Bardusch says. “I wouldn’t call us ‘cloud first’ like Capital One, but we are absolutely going to be cloud opportunistic and lead with cloud where appropriate.”

For CRM and commercial loan origination, the bank is implementing nCino (a Salesforce partner) and Salesforce, replacing spreadsheets, paper and manual processes.

Online, the bank will soon introduce improved mobile services using Digital Insight, an NCR company.

“We will have touch ID, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and various e-wallets in a month or two.”

Several branches are going through a tech refresh with NCR’s Intelligent Teller system that lets customers tap a screen to communicate with a live person. A consultant is reviewing the branch network to propose a revamped of the entire branches network to take advantage of mobile innovations, like remote deposit capture, without driving away existing customers.

“Our customer base is very diverse,” says Bardusch. “Our more seasoned customers have different preferences, but a lot of them want to use the same technology as their grandkids and like to use apps like Venmo or other P2P services to send them money.

“We still see the branch as a touchpoint, but it changes from being largely transaction-based to a more advisory based model. When you provide easier methods to move those transactions to self-serve the experience becomes more about interaction and consultation.”

The bank uses cloud-based ServiceNow to manage its operations, workflow and orchestration and get rid of paper processes in everything from database configuration management to HR onboarding.

Bank employees were on desktops when Bardusch arrived, but now many are using laptops and mobile devices – so those on the move, like sales people, can work from anywhere.

“We have enabled the board with Diligent, a tablet-based board portal, so there’s no more paper at board meetings – it’s all on iPads.”

Bardusch sees an uncertain future in the evolution of banks and fintechs.

“We may partner or make small investment in certain fintech firms that could allow us to be first to market,” he comments. “The game has changed with cloud and all these fintech companies and how quickly people can stand up and bring new capability to market…”

This is an excerpt. The full article is available in the June 2017 edition of Banking Technology.