Magazine article American Banker

Banker at the Helm of Household Makes Transition

Magazine article American Banker

Banker at the Helm of Household Makes Transition

Article excerpt

William F. Aldinger learned the ropes while lending to the blue-bloods, but he's made his mark lately with a decidedly blue-collar clientele.

As the chairman and chief executive of Household International, this former U.S. Trust & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. executive heads a home equity, personal loan, and credit card lender that deals with borrowers banks won't touch.

How do banking and finance company cultures differ? "Really I don't think they're any different," Mr. Aldinger said. "In the end, it's money."

He noted that when he arrived at Household, he asked the company's management team to rank its nine divisions in order of profitability-and then eliminated all but the most profitable: the credit card and consumer finance divisions.

Banks have been eyeing the high-profit-margin business of lending to the unbanked in recent years. But few have made significant inroads, in part because they're overextending themselves in trying to diversify, Mr. Aldinger said.

"There are very few companies that can serve all different customers and do it well," he said. "It's very hard to have the same customers shop at Kmart, Nordstrom, and Macy's."

Mr. Aldinger said the key to Household's success is focusing his efforts and "sticking to (his) knitting."

"It's hard to be good at all things," he added, noting the lukewarm profitability of Household's now-extinct mutual fund and insurance lines.

Observers said that Mr. …

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