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The Top 10 People of 2009

This year's Innovators ranking includes 10 individuals who have done their part to push the industry forward with their thought leadership and progressive strategies in areas ranging from payments, to fraud detection to social media and personal financial management tools.

1. Secil Watson, Wells Fargo

It'd be easy to understand if Innovation were sidelined at Wells Fargo this year, given the recession and the massive IT project facing the bank - integrating Wachovia's 3,300 branches and customers in 21 states. But under Secil Watson's watch, online innovation continues unabated.

2., 3., & 4. Aaron Patzer, William Azaroff, Jeff Carter

Great minds feed off each other. With this in mind, BTN asked Nos. 2, 3 and 4 Innovators to discuss what they're up to, and what they see as the most innovative areas of financial services

5. Jeff Dennes, USAA

USAA's customers are early adopters by necessity, leading military lives that often place them both thousands of miles from home and light years ahead of the banking tech curve. The institution would be in trouble if it didn't understand how to match those needs to its IT choices, a task that partly falls on the shoulders of Jeff Dennes, executive director of mobile for USAA and one of the leaders of a eye-catching mobile deployment this year that suggests USAA is indeed in tune with its customers.

6. Joseph Ferra, Fidelity

Joseph Ferra rattled off the same three words - discoverability...accessibility...and usability...at least three separate times during a twenty-minute phone conversation, much like a coach whittling a complex playbook to its bare essentials. The game in this case, wireless financial management, is only in its opening minutes as institutions and users alike sift through myriad device and tech options available in the nascent channel.

7. Brendan Pickering, HSBC

Brendan Pickering's a road warrior whose weapon of choice is standards. The head of group fraud technology for London's HSBC Holdings typically visits about a dozen countries yearly to consolidate and standardizing the $402 billion institution's 80-nation fraud battle. "We're a huge group," says Pickering, who's been in his position for the past four years. "I can't sit in an ivory tower and do this."

8. Josh Peirez, Mastercard

Josh Peirez's first year as MasterCard's group executive for innovative platforms has been spent championing payments advancements that make users champions of their own spending destiny, a move that's well tuned to a marketplace that's jittery about debt.

9. Denis-Martin Monty, ING Retirement Services

Denis-Martin Monty spends a lot of time thinking about retirement while he's on the job, though mostly it's the retirement of other people. That's what's made the quick success of www.INGcompareme.com, a portal that allows people to view the personal finance and retirement planning habits of peers, so gratifying to the six-year veteran of the institution.

10. Dominic Venturo, U.S. Bancorp

Dominic Venturo, chief innovation officer at US Bancorp, runs a bit of a skunkworks operation at the Minneapolis-based bank. Charged with evaluating emerging technologies for their long-term potential, as well as shepherding some products into production and beyond, Venturo and his team are waist deep in forging the future of retail payments.