Magazine article American Banker

Nationwide Bank's Incoming Chief Forming Strategy

Magazine article American Banker

Nationwide Bank's Incoming Chief Forming Strategy

Article excerpt

As the president of Nationwide Financial Services Inc.'s new retail bank, Anne L. Arvia has no doubt what her biggest challenge will be: getting Nationwide's insurance customers to use its banking products and services.

"How do you take advantage of their strong brand and their national reach?" asked Ms. Arvia, who was named the president of Nationwide Bank this week.

Running the banking arm of a giant insurer is new territory for Ms. Arvia, currently the president and chief executive at the $1.5 billion-asset ShoreBank, a community development bank in Chicago. Her last day at ShoreBank will be Aug. 18, and she will take the helm of Nationwide Bank in September.

Ms. Arvia's hiring was announced three months after Nationwide got regulatory approval to launch a retail thrift and about a month after its $112 million-asset bank announced it had agreed to buy the $523 million-asset Nationwide Federal Credit Union for $79 million in cash. The holding company, its bank, and the credit union are based in Columbus, Ohio.

Mark. R. Thresher, the president and chief operating officer of Nationwide Financial, said that the bank is still essentially in "start-up mode" and needed a leader that could create a plan for it.

"The ability to set a vision and grow the bank is a key part of what I was looking for" in a new president, he said.

The credit union, created to serve Nationwide's employees, retirees, and their families, has 40,000 retail customers. Mr. Thresher said that merging the credit union with the bank is the best way to build a customer base quickly.

Mr. Thresher said the bank will focus first on attracting Nationwide Financial's customers and probably will serve customers primarily through call centers and the Internet, rather than a branch network. He quickly added, though, that nothing has been set in stone. …

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