While the entire banking industry is working to regain consumers' trust following the market turmoil of the past year, Bank of America has also had to reposition its brand following acquisitions of Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch that created the nation's largest mortgage lender, largest wealth manager and a one of the world's leading corporate and investment banks.
If this sounds like an outsized task, Anne Finucane, BofA's global chief strategy and marketing officer, has an outsized role at the company. Whether its brand positioning, marketing, or communications across all lines of business, Finucane is the go-to voice of the banking giant.
Finucane, who came to BofA through its acquisition of FleetBoston Financial Corp. in 2004, also oversees federal, state and international public policy for BofA, setting its agenda and position on all issues affecting its lines of business. This broad perspective enables her to take an integrated approach to telling the company's story. BofA has won multiple industry honors in 2009, including awards for Internet advertising, community relations, and two Ogilvy awards recognizing the quality advertising and advertising research.
"We have to be consistent in the broad message; we've got to demonstrate our commitment to understanding our customer base and the community in which we work and live and providing them with best financial solutions," Finucane says.
After BofA acquired Countrywide, the company designed a marketing campaign focused on a commitment to lend responsibly and create successful homeowners. After extensive research indicated that customers were looking for transparency and simplicity from mortgage lenders, the company developed a "clarity commitment," a one-page, plain-language explanation of loan terms, and the Flat-Fee Mortgage Plus, a mortgage with no application fee and a single closing fee.
Finucane says this rebranding wouldn't have been possible if BofA hadn't already addressed the public policy issues, however. She and Barbara Desoer, president of BofA Home Mortgage, had worked together on the company's loan modification program, determining how much flexibility it should have and where these efforts should be targeted.
Finucane's role gives her tremendous influence. She reportedly had a strong hand in the company's decision this past summer to hire former Citigroup chief financial officer Sallie Krawcheck as head of global wealth and investment management.
Brian Moynihan, Bank of America's president of consumer and small business banking and a colleague for the past 15 years, calls Finucane "a very rare talent."
"She understands the interconnectivity of business, politics, journalism and the community and how all those things shape our business, which is very unusual to find in any one person," he says.