Change has been a buzzword at Capital One Bank over the last few years.

That's because the New York company has been transforming itself froma credit-card issuer to a national banking powerhouse.

Suzanne Hammett, its chief risk officer, has played a major role in integrating the commercial lending businesses of the three regional banks Cap One acquired in the past five years: Hibernia Corp. in 2005, North Fork Bancorp in 2006 and Chevy Chase Bank last year."We had to-in very short order-build a world-class risk management practice around our commercial banking business as well as consumer lending," Hammett says.

Since joining the bank in 2007, she has been focused on, among other things, developing a consistent national approach to the way commercial loans are originated, assessed, booked, underwritten and monitored.

Hammett faced the challenge of being accountable for approving loans that arrived on her desk with different approaches and different credit scores, a level of risk that was clearly unsustainable.

To create a scalable national approach to risk management, she separated marketing from analysis and underwriting. Thenshe implemented-for the first time-a consistent coverage model for risk management across the bank's new national footprint.

In other words, now a real estate loan that originates in New York goes through the same risk analysis as a similar loan in New Orleans. "In addition to allowing a streamlined view of risk, this structure also enables the company to manage risk much more rapidly and spot distressed loans and resolve issues more quickly," she says.

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