Comerica Bank tapped a former Meta leader to improve the bank’s data literacy; in other words, helping everyone in the business understand, analyze, and act on data insights.
The Dallas-based bank added Jeff Banks to the newly created role of chief data and analytics officer in early March. Banks said he is focused on creating an environment at Comerica where people from all lines of business have access to data and the skills to use it to make decisions.
Banks said Comerica already has robust dashboards and reports with data insights, but wants to create a culture where employees use data across the company to make decisions. Once that baseline is established, he said the next phase would be to add more artificial intelligence, machine learning capabilities and other advanced technologies.
“Machine learning and artificial intelligence and all of those things are best leveraged when you have constant use and disposition of your data and information,” Banks said. “The first priority for me is to create what I would call a library. How do we organize the information? How do we make it consumable?… How do we help educate and support people as they improve the use of a learning environment? managed data?
Banks said he thinks the “defensive” part of the data strategy is keeping up with regulatory requirements like data collection and reporting expectations rise. The “offensive” side of the strategy is to use data as an asset to grow business, he said.
Regional banks have been improving and investing in their data analytics tools and infrastructure for years, but where some fall short is insufficient monetization of that data, said Jordan Sternlieb, a senior partner at consultancy West Monroe.
“In recent years, [regional banks] they’ve come a long way in terms of cleaning up their data, having a strategy, running against it, organizing their data, that sort of thing,” Sternlieb said. “I think the key though is that there needs to be a champion to be able to run better data, insights and analytics. The integration of data within the business so that bankers understand it, are literate, know how it relates to their portfolio and can really monetize it.”
Banks came to Comerica from Meta, but previously worked as an enterprise data officer at USAA for 11 years and said he always intended to return to financial services. He said there are parallels between his new role at Comerica and his previous role at Meta. At the tech giant, Banks said his goal was to create a data structure that would use information about advertisers to drive sales, similar to how Meta uses data to target users. At Comerica, where most of the business is commercial, Banks said the bottom line is comparable.
Investigation of an Arizent survey Made with American Banker showed that 60% of regional and community banks listed data and analytics as one of their top technology spending priorities in 2023. In 2022, Comerica spent $39 million on “modernization initiatives,” which included migration to the cloud and the update of its main platforms.
Last fall, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Truist Financial data governance platform acquired Zaloni and his 20 employees. The bank said Zaloni, to be managed by chief data officer Tracy Daniels, would improve data analytics to develop products and services for clients.
John Wei, who has been Comerica’s chief technology officer since 2021, said in an October podcast that the majority of Comerica’s business workload is in the public cloud. He added that Comerica was slow to adopt the cloud, starting about three years ago, but had dismantled two of three of its data centers, and said in a YouTube video last month that Comerica now uses more than 50 Amazon web services. .
Sternlieb said bankers, just like relationship managers, need to have protocols and playbooks so they can uncover account penetration or sales opportunities from data. He added that training should provide bankers with examples of how to take advantage of the data and improve the results.
Comerica will train bankers and employees to manage data and use it to make decisions, Banks said, rather than provide them with the results of big data scans.
“We are a relationship bank,” Banks said. “How do we narrow the universe of information in front of our relationship managers to talk about what’s the next big thing in deepening a relationship with a business customer? How do you give indicators that a relationship may be at risk?”
As an example, he said, relationship managers should be able to use data to get a more complete picture of a customer and recommend the next best product or service.
In your second trimester, Comerica lost $3.7 billion in deposits in the three weeks after the run-up and failure of Silicon Valley Bank. The bank’s collapse led companies to prioritize keeping bank balances below $250,000, to ensure protection from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Comerica projects that total deposits will fall between 12% and 14% this year.
While sharing information across the company for employees to use is key to Banks’ strategy, he said another important goal for his new data framework is to apply governance tools to monitor data quality. He added that the bank is working on implementing protocols to ensure that the data is safe and correct.
“What is the process by which we inform our operational areas to capture only the correct information sets that are needed to drive a business process?” Banks said. “How do we protect the information that is captured and make sure that it only gets into the right hands of colleagues who need to move forward with the given information set? Those are the types of technologies that often go unnoticed, but are absolutely critical to lay a great foundation for a data program.