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‘Now we can scale’: Inside 91-year old Valley National Bank’s path to digitization

  • Valley National Bank made 40 acquisitions over its 91 years.
  • Its road to digitization began with CRM and improving commercial lending.
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‘Now we can scale’: Inside 91-year old Valley National Bank’s path to digitization

When Bob Bardusch joined Valley National Bank as CIO in 2016, the first thing he did was create a three year technology roadmap. His challenge: how to digitize the 38th largest bank in the U.S. while respecting its 91 year history. Valley was a product of 40 acquisitions over its lifetime and had underinvested in its technology. There wasn’t even a CRM for front line representatives to use in their branches spanning northern New Jersey, Manhattan, Florida, and Alabama.

Starting digital transformation from the ground up

Valley National Bank began its digital transformation process slowly with a rebranding effort in October of 2018, freshening up the bank’s image and logos. Valley moved its stock listing from the New York Stock Exchange to the NASDAQ. Next up was a project to digitize its commercial lending business and online deposit account opening processes. Bardusch, a 16 year veteran of PNC Bank, was named COO in 2018, adding operations and marketing to his responsibilities.

“As a technology guy in operations, I was looking at ways to take technology and leverage our data, insights, and analytics into our marketing and ops,” Bardusch said.

The lack of technology investment over several decades meant that Valley’s commercial lending experience was completely manual. Reams of paper floated from desk to desk, making it hard for loan officers to determine the status of loans they were working on.

The lack of a CRM for sales and service staff seemed acute, as there was no way to capture and track referrals, notes, and insights gleaned between different teams. Valley decided to use Salesforce. Bardusch also chose nCino, a cloud banking solution built on the Salesforce Platform, to address his commercial lending process. The combination of the two softwares should improve Valley’s customer experience throughout the sales funnel and origination process.

“We’ve taken a disjointed experience — credit memos were manually cut and paste into a Word document and shared with the team — and automated it,”  he said. “It’s a much richer experience for employees and they know exactly where things are.”

Since deploying Salesforce Financial Services Cloud and nCino, Valley has been able to create a single view of its customers across its nearly 240 branches and its retail and commercial lines of business.

Changing platforms, changing culture

In addition to digitizing operations, Bardusch is also taking aim at changing the his organization’s approach to technology.

“For digitization to work, we have to change culture,” he said.  “It’s at the core of what we do and where we can have biggest impact, but it’s also the longest pole in the tent.”

Valley began rolling nCino out to about 100 people internally, including the firm’s lenders and back and middle office staff. Deep into a 6 month training period, Valley has received positive responses to the changes.

The digitization process is changing the types of people Valley hires, too.  The firm now looks for top talent with experience in things like data and systems architecture and engineering.

“Less than three years ago, the bank wasn’t in the cloud at all,” said Bardusch. “Now, we’re cloud first in what we do today.”

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