Banking on a New Model

How City National’s new CEO is turning the institution around; using a rebranding campaign, and offering profitable, consumer-focused products and services

Capital is a bank’s lifeblood. But during the throes of the Great Recession, capital dried up as unemployment rose. This meant fewer loans to small businesses and less funding for economic development. “They’re in the urban core and they’re providing financial services and products for people right in their community,” says Michael A. Grant, president of the National Bankers Association. “The banks are doing a great job, they’re doing what the regulators are requiring them to do and they want to do more lending, but they need capital to do that. They can always use more deposits and more capital.”

Driven By Customers
Responding to those challenges, City National’s management developed a plan to land that much-needed capital by transitioning away from serving primarily as a real estate lender and moving toward serving as a community-focused provider of an array of financial services. “That could be debt, equity, technical assistance, or intellectual capital,” says Walter Bond, the bank’s senior vice president and chief administrative officer. “We’re looking to bring capital to the marketplace that’s needed to turn around communities, and we’re also looking to do it in a way that employs better risk management practices than you would [typically] have at a small or mid-sized bank.”

To that end, City National’s board and management team took the following steps to rebrand the bank and increase its appeal to consumers:

• Updated the corporate logo. “We looked at the legacy branding, which was good branding in its time, but banking itself has changed,” says Pinkett. “So we started a rebranding process with the launch of a more inclusive branding and logo.”

• Introduced online banking. The bank previously had a static website that provided basic information. It’s now fully functional (www.citynatbank.com/). Customers can create and manage their accounts online. Online checking, savings, and budgeting were the first product introductions, which will soon be followed by personal finance tools, retirement planning, insurance, and annuities.

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