The Bank CEO of the Future

1 The bank CEO of the future won’t need to be a technologist or an IT genius. Leading a bank is going to require the same lending and strategic management skills it always has and will be a job that rewards well-informed and curious generalists. But that curiosity will need to extend to some new areas, and one of them is data. Specifically, to new ideas about how to use the vast quantities of customer data banks steward—and how to do so ethically. And while a CEO won’t need to be a data scientist herself, she will need to know what to look for in a strong back-end data team that will supply current insights to the whole organization.

“Bankers will need to be supported by a back-office team that takes a long view, listening to feedback, considering where the industry is going, and delivering data and research that constantly support more valuable interactions with each customer.”

Scott Peters, head of consumer banking, Regions Financial Corporation

“With the consistent inflow of mass amounts of data, it will be critical for those in a leadership role to be able to quickly synthesize and act on it in order to continue to meet or exceed customer expectations. It will also be critical to have a better understanding of digital advances and their potential use in banking.”

Çagri Süzer, head of retail banking, BBVA Compass

“CEOs have to keep up personally with these customer trends and technology changes or have a team that is doing it for them that they trust and give authority to. Personally I’m knee deep in much of it.”

Jeff Plagge, president and CEO, Northwest Financial Corp.


2 As the pace of change accelerates, many customers, investors and even employees may be intimidated and long for familiar processes, technologies and business models. So CEOs will not just need to be comfortable with fast and frequent change—they will need to communicate about why it matters and help people understand how to adjust. Communication won’t just be a responsibility over in the marketing department; it will be at the top of every CEO’s job description.

“Communication skills will be critical to leading employees and helping customers understand our role in their financial lives.”

Steve Goodenow, chairman, Bank Midwest

“We need to focus on developing meaningful communication when they want it and when you want it. That means managers need to be tech-savvy and understand what their customers and employees are looking for.”

Bryan Luke, president and COO, Hawaii National Bank

“Community banking is never not going to be person to person.”

Rita Lowman, president, Pilot Bank


3 The bank CEO of the future will combine her passion for technology and data with her powerful communications skills to be an advocate and educator with the board. With individual business lines becoming more specialized, it will be harder for directors to exercise effective governance without understanding how banking is being reshaped, and the CEO will need to be the primary voice the board hears—and respects—on the challenges each institution faces.


ABA at Your Service

Gain insights for tomorrow’s bank CEOs at the ABA-Wharton CEO Leadership Lab. Held at Wharton’s campus in Philadelphia, this intimate program is customized to deliver the industry expertise and leadership thinking that bank CEOs and presidents need to thrive in the bank of the future. Learn more at


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