Valley rebranding caps an eventful year for new CEO

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When Ira Robbins replaced Gerald Lipkin as CEO of Valley National Bancorp in January, one of his key mandates was to simplify operations at the Wayne, N.J., company as it continued to add business lines and expand into new markets.

To that end, Robbins has made some new investments in technology aimed at improving communications between departments and this week shifted the company’s stock listing from the New York Stock Exchange to the Nasdaq in an effort to cut costs.

He has also slightly tweaked the bank’s name, dropping the word “national,” so that it is now simply called Valley Bank.

Unlike other banks that have dropped national from their names, Valley is not looking to switch from a national to a state charter. Instead, the change is about updating the bank’s image as it continues to grow. Valley has acquired four banks since 2012, including three in Florida.

Robbins said the $30 billion-asset company didn’t want to change the brand name it has used for more than 40 years too drastically and risk alienating legacy customers, but rather wanted to show its commitment to simplicity with a slightly shorter moniker.

Tech investments have been a priority for Robbins in his time as CEO and were also much of the reason behind the brand update.

“When I came on as the CEO, one of the things the board was focused on was making sure that technology has a significant place in our future,” he said. “Our customers want the ability to bank with us through multiple channels, but to ensure that their relationship officer here knows what he or she is doing.”

Valley recently set up a data lake, or a single store of raw data, that Robbins said that will make it easier for bankers in different business lines to all access the same information about any given customer. A commercial banker working with a business client, for example, will be able to see if that client is also looking for a home mortgage and may be able to make additional recommendations based on that.

The company is also migrating to the cloud-based nCino platform for commercial lending, and it has moved its residential mortgage origination onto a paperless platform.

Mike Karfakis, founder and chief operating officer of the digital ad and PR agency Vitamin, said he’s seen more banks rebrand like this to better grab the attention of younger consumers who prefer a “less institutional” feel.

Earlier this year, Valley closed on its acquisition of USAmeriBancorp in Clearwater, Fla. Robbins said the timing was right for a brand update in part because Valley would be changing the signage associated with that deal. He also said the company would be expanding its Small Business Administration lending and its women in business initiatives along with that further expansion into Florida.

Robbins said that Valley had considered other names. “But," he said, "we looked at Valley and said most people already refer to us as Valley today, so it’s already on the tip of the tongue for our customers."

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