Regions recruits fraud specialist from BBVA Compass

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Regions Financial in Birmingham, Ala., has hired a fraud specialist away from rival BBVA Compass.

Lee Byrd has been named head of fraud, the $129 billion-asset Regions said Thursday. In the newly created role, Byrd will focus on protecting both customers and the company from financial fraud, and he will report to Logan Pichel, head of enterprise operations.

“As the occurrence of fraud rapidly increases throughout the financial services industry ... we are creating an enterprise singular focus on fraud within Enterprise Operations,” Pichel said in a press release.

Regions CEO John Turner has emphasized both technology and hiring since he took over in July 2018. Like most of its peers, Regions has invested in various tech tools, like artificial intelligence and upgrades to its digital mortgage platform.

But those tech investments also mean banks are fighting more kinds of fraud across more channels. So-called friendly fraud is on the rise, according to one recent study, and digital lending channels can be especially vulnerable to synthetic identity fraud.

Stewart Goldman, a senior client partner with the recruiting firm Korn Ferry, said that he sees banks of all sizes increasingly bringing on fraud specialists. The role varies from bank to bank, but Goldman said that banks are usually looking for people with a mix of experience in technology, operations and risk.

“As the technology continues to evolve, the risks associated with fraud continue to grow,” he said. “It is absolutely something we’ve seen banks pay a lot more attention to.”

Regions said that it created the job, which will be housed in its operations department, to centralize its focus on preventing fraud.

Byrd has more than 20 years of experience in corporate security, information technology and fraud mitigation, according to Pichel. Before joining Regions, Byrd was the director of fraud and physical security at the $93 billion-asset BBVA Compass, also in Birmingham; before that, he held a variety of other roles in information technology and business.

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