Luvleen Sidhu has just been given a tough job at Customers Bancorp (CUBI), made even more pressure-packed by the fact that she's the daughter of Jay Sidhu, the chairman and chief executive.
Even so, Richard Ehst, Customers' president and chief operating officer, thinks she's well-equipped to handle the challenge of developing strategy for the $5 billion-asset company's foray into mobile banking.
"If I had 10 like her I wouldn't have any worries," says Ehst, who has worked with Jay Sidhu for nearly four decades, stretching back to their time at Sovereign Bank. He's known Luvleen, 28, since her childhood, he says.
Luvleen Sidhu this week was named chief strategy officer of BankMobile, a division of Customers that's developing a mobile-banking product in partnership with Malauzai Software in Austin, Texas. Her brother, Samvir Sidhu, is a director of Customers Bank.
She previously worked at Customers as director of corporate development. Most recently, she worked as a consultant in the financial services practice at Strategy& (formerly known as Booz & Co.).
Luvleen Sidhu and Jay Sidhu could not be reached for comment.
Customers is taking a gamble with BankMobile. The vast majority of Customers' revenue comes from loans made to businesses. Consumer loans make up only about 11% of the Wyomissing, Pa., bank's portfolio.
BankMobile is aimed directly at consumers, in particular members of the millennial generation (generally thought to be those born between 1980 and 2000). This is a target group that Customers described in a press release as "tech-savvy" and "tech-dependent," and whom Ehst said are likely to never set foot in a physical bank branch.
BankMobile won't be released until early September. But from Customers' early descriptions of the product, it appears to be similar to Simple, the digital banking startup acquired by BBVA Compass. BankMobile's users will be able to do anything that can typically be handled at a physical branch, including apply for a mortgage.
It's a business opportunity where few community banks have dared to venture. That's largely because many banks can't afford to pursue this type of risky project, Ehst says.
"The real magic is that we can afford to do this," Ehst says.
Another challenge is selling a mobile-banking product to other employee groups at the bank, Ehst says. That's been a problem at some financial institutions, where some employees have viewed tech projects as a threat. Luvleen Sidhu will have to deal with those issues while at the same time being a child of the bank CEO.
"It creates a tremendous amount of pressure for Luvleen, for her to do all the right things, but I think she can handle it," Ehst says.