October 1, 2022 / VOLUME NO. 229

Innovation Starts With Identity

Branding and innovation may appear to be two completely different areas at first glance — one tied to a bank’s marketing, the other to technology — but $8.8 billion ConnectOne Bancorp combines the two roles to ensure that technology investment aligns with strategy.

Siya Vansia leads brand and innovation at the Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey-based bank, having spent more than a decade in its marketing department — an experience that has provided a clear view on how internal and external stakeholders view ConnectOne, she says. “I was able to naturally become the center point of information,” she adds. “I'm hearing the feedback from clients on products and services, or what works or what doesn't work.”

ConnectOne knows its purpose and the customers it serves, Vansia says. “We are a high performing, highly efficient commercial bank that's out to serve small to midsize business owners,” she explains. “The decisions that we make and the investments that we make have to be in line with that.” 

The American Marketing Association defines a brand as: “a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” Identity is key to branding. It’s also critical to making good strategic decisions, including those around technology adoption. 

It can be easy to chase fads that may not align with the bank’s strategy and identity; in their oversight capacity, boards can ensure that decisions make strategic sense.  

“We hear a lot from management teams that they're trying to be really sexy in technology … they're doing this crazy stuff, but sometimes it’s not even underpinning a strategy,” says Benjamin Wallace, CEO of Summit Technology Group. Bank Director’s 2022 Technology Survey finds boards and leadership teams mulling several emerging areas for their potential to drive revenue, including cryptocurrency and banking as a service (BaaS). But some of those initiatives may not fit with a bank’s identity, strategy or risk appetite. 

Look at BaaS, an area where regulatory scrutiny has recently grown. “[Management teams] want to do banking as a service; they blow up deposits,” says Wallace. “Where was the board in that conversation to say, ‘Is this what we want to do?’”   

Emily McCormick, vice president of research for Bank Director

Earnings Are High but Bank Stock Prices Are Low

Capital management going forward will be tricky. Here’s what to consider on a bank board. 

“It’s been a real frustration and a real incongruity between stock prices and what’s going on with fundamentals.”

— R. Scott Siefers, Piper Sandler & Co.

• Naomi Snyder, editor-in-chief of Bank Director

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