William F. Binns, the former Signet Banking Corp. credit card executive, has joined First Annapolis Consulting as its fourth principal.

At 49, Mr. Binns has more than 27 years of retail banking experience, most recently as executive vice president of Signet's credit card division, now Capital One Financial Corp.

Frederick A. White, principal and co-founder of the Maryland management consulting firm, noted the "depth of experience" that has given Mr. Binns "insights into the future of credit cards and other growing financial services."

First Annapolis' other principals are William Westervelt andJohn Soderlund.

Mr. Binns said he will focus his attention on small and medium card issuers to concentrate on account management strategies and work with banks to maximize the value of their portfolios. "There will be a large emphasis on the value of information."

While at Signet, Mr. Binns participated in the development of an information-based approach to the management of bank card accounts. The strategy has been so successful, he said, it was one of the reasons he decided to move on.

"My ability to add value on a daily basis had been diluted over time because they had done such a good job of accumulating talent and really putting science to work," said the soft-spoken Richmond, Va., native.

While at Signet, Mr. Binns was chairman of the American Bankers Association Bank Card Executive Committee. He has worked on Visa and MasterCard committees and was chairman of Internet, operator of Most, a southern shared network of automated teller machines.

Mr. Binns said he plans to invoke a mentality of testing and managing accounts on an individual level among second-tier issuers, rather than take a one-size-fits-all approach.

He added that smaller issuers should work on building alliances for cobranding, merchant business, and issuing, "helping them take advantage of scale to align themselves with a provider of services."

As part of reengineering, Mr. Binns said he will examine the bank's card operations and compare them to the best practices in the industry.

Coming from one of the fastest-growing card companies, Mr. Binns acknowledges that growth has been concentrated among the top 25 issuers.

"Our message is not to pack up and sell by any means," he said, "but it's that if you're going to compete, you're going to have to acknowledge the way these people do business and look for ways to do that. That can mean alliances, looking for scale, picking your niches.

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