For any child looking to succeed at a new business venture, parental support comes in handy. The same has been true for Nationwide Bank.

In the last two years, the upstart direct bank has doubled its assets, brought in more than 13,000 new customers, boosted revenue and capital ratios, and begun to increase awareness of its retail banking products. Parent company Nationwide Financial Services' deep pockets have certainly helped, but the credit for strategy and harnessing the strength of the entire Nationwide enterprise goes to Anne Arvia, hired at launch in 2006 to be president of the new direct bank.

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