Head of Transaction Banking Americas, MUFG Union Bank
Ranjana Clark is not afraid to take on what she describes as the "invisible cultural barriers" of a Japanese-owned bank.
When Clark joined MUFG Union Bank, she soon realized that its historically conservative approach to accepting deposits was limiting growth.
Clark saw an opportunity to expand deposits aggressively — but safely — by carving out a niche holding deposits from other financial institutions. She recognized that there are businesses in this category, such as insurance companies, that do not behave like stereotypical large financial firms. The money is likelier to stay put during a crisis, and less likely to draw a skeptical eye from regulators.
Clark had her head of risk management and several top finance executives analyze the market opportunity and assess the downside. Then Clark presented a report on the findings that convinced the senior leadership team she could bank these businesses at a substantial profit without spooking the examiners.
As a result of her initiative, her group recently obtained clearance to raise more than $1 billion of deposits from select businesses in the financial institutions category, even as others like JPMorgan Chase and GE Capital have quit the business line.
Building on these efforts, Clark now has a team pursuing hotly contested segments, such as cash-rich technology companies.
Clark also has helped her lending colleagues overcome similar rigidity at the San Francisco unit of Tokyo's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group.
Commercial bankers were previously constrained in lending to middle-market firms. But when they teamed up with Clark's group to court such clients for loans and deposits, executives gave their approval to extend more credit, seeing that the overall relationships would be more profitable.
In an industry content with low single-digit growth, her group posted double-digit increases in deposits last year. Moreover, it beat core earnings projections by well over $50 million.