- Wells Fargo named Saul Van Beurden as the company's first head of technology, a new position announced last October, overseeing the companywide information security and technology teams.
- Van Beurden is currently the CIO of consumer and community banking for Chase, and will join Wells Fargo in his new position in April. He previously held a variety of IT leadership roles at Dutch banking and financial services firm ING Group.
- In the announcement, Wells Fargo CEO and President Tim Sloan highlighted Van Beurden's leadership in risk remediation and technology as crucial for accelerating improvement of the bank's information security capabilities.
Although operating in a highly regulated space, disruptive innovation has pushed banking and financial services companies to embrace more technology on the backend and in customer facing roles, from cloud migrations and data processing to machine learning and blockchain.
Carrying out a unified vision for technology requires empowered technical leadership. Wells Fargo is bucking the CIO title for Van Beurden, who will oversee the CTO and CISO currently reporting to CFO John Shrewsberry.
The company has laid out five areas of focus for its digital transformation in payments, virtual solutions and innovation:
- Providing personalized advice to customers at scale
- Increasing digital account acquisition
- Supporting a platform for innovation
- Expanding and integrating distribution
- Establishing best-in-class digital payments
In meeting these challenges, Van Beurden will benefit from an increase in resources and investment to the technology teams.
Wells Fargo expects technology expenses to reach $9 billion this year, a roughly 10% increase year-over-year, with around $800 million for cybersecurity in particular, Sloan said, speaking at the Goldman Sachs U.S. Financial Services Conference in December. The company is also increasing its investment in key areas such as data modernization, regulation and governance, IT simplification and business support.
In the push for more digital capabilities for customers, the company rolled out an online retail mortgage applications tool in March, which captured 28% of all applications by October. It also extended debit card functionality requests to mobile and digital platforms and expanded its Enterprise API platform ten-fold over the course of 2018, Sloan said.
Like other technology organizations, the company has to weigh build vs. buy for each innovation project. By uniting information technology and security under one common executive, the bank is taking a steps to uniting distinct teams for companywide efforts.