Wachovia's recent moribund financial performance has been called "disappointing and unacceptable" by its own chairman, Lanty L. Smith But thanks to a handful of shrewd initiatives by Ranjana Clark and her team, attention's been brought to the bright spots.
Clark, senior evp and CMO of the $812 billion bank, has spearheaded campaigns and laid the groundwork for more than $23 billion in Wachovia balances at a time when the overall bank has been hemorrhaging billions. Front and center to Clark's success has been Way2Save, a savings account that allows customers to transfer $1 from their checking accounts into a special savings account each time they make a check card purchase or an electronic payment.
The program's been a grand slam for a bank that's been doing its share of striking out lately. The results show nearly 900,000 Way2Save accounts being opened in a seven-month period between January and July with balances totaling $1 billion. More than 44 percent of those new Way2Save accounts also linked to a new checking account. Clark's group also launched a CD promotion that has resulted in $22 billion in revenue in less than a year.
Some 41 percent of new CD balances come from either new or recaptured customers; 49 percent of customers with new CDs also have a checking account with the bank. "One of things we look at when deciding on initiatives are the realities and needs faced by the customers and clients, and staying laser-focused on serving those needs. The savings program is a perfect example of that," says Clark, who fist joined Wachovia in 1989 and became CMO in April 2007.
Channel development is also part of the strategy, with Clark's group creating and promoting Wachovia Mobile. That initiative includes partnerships with AT&T and Verizon that give the bank access to more than half of the nation's 250 million mobile users. "We have to make sure we're responding to the needs and developments of the marketplace, and mobile is a perfect example of that. It's the way of the future," Clark says.
The performance of Clark and her team's initiatives stands in contrast to a massive second quarter loss at the bank of $8.66 billion-compared to earnings of $2.34 billion in the second quarter of 2007 - a dismal posting that's forced the bank to slash its dividend and more than 10,000 jobs in order to conserve money.
"She is at the table helping us address some of the issues that are confronting us," says David Carroll, president of the capital markets group at Charlotte, NC-based Wachovia. "We are lucky to have her."
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