Capital One announced last month that it had appointed Jim Gifas as the bank’s new senior vice president and head of the Treasury Management Product Management & Innovation Group. Gifas spoke with MPD CEO Karen Webster to discuss his new role with Capital One, and how the bank plans to adapt to the changing corporate consumer needs in an increasingly digital world.
Key to that effort is alleviating pain points. Treasury managers face a recurring issue in answering for two essential core values: finding a way to build their business to make them efficient and driving revenue, and thus value, for their own customers.
Making Business Transparent
According Gifas, there are essentially four levers that can be used to drive efficiency and value—transparency, safety, liquidity and payments—and it is incumbent on bankers to help to their merchant clients use those tools.
He further explained that it is bankers’ responsibility to educate their business customers on the latest banking efficiencies, new trends and innovations that exist. That way, those organizations can make the treasury aspects more efficient.
"They don’t need to be experts,” Gifas said. “We don’t expect them to be experts – they’re not experts. The number one priority is to build their business and they look to us to provide that insight and guidance. Business owners look at innovation to ‘How can I leverage that technology to fix a problem that exists in my business.’"
For example, Gifas explained that some companies still use checks to deliver payment. It’s up to those organizations to ask, “Is check the most efficient way for payment.”
“That’s the pain point,” Gifas said. “[They want to know] how to leverage innovation and technology to make their business more productive.”
According to Gifas, during the financial crisis several years ago, liquidity was the number one priority for treasury managers. He explained that these individuals’ primary concern was safety of principle, and that is what they focused their time and energy on. This led to a tremendous amount of “hoarding of cash,” Gifas said, and treasury managers were waiting for the economy to turn so they could make an investment in their business.
Over the last two years, the tides have finally shifted, he said. Now, treasury managers are looking for acquisitions to make or investments to make for their business.
“They’re looking for transient banking to help them process payments more efficiently,” Gifas said, or essentially, a more efficient way to collect payments.
The newly appointed SVP stated that Capital One fits into this equation in that it will spend time educating its customers on the differences and efficiencies in different payments. For example, customers can now use remote check capture, desktop scanners and mobile phone technology to receive an instant image of a check and send it for collection.
On the payments side, Gifas explained that there has been a tremendous amount of activity on innovation going on through those same points. Essentially, corporate customers are seeing innovations in their personal lives and are likely to want to find a way to translate that to their professional lives.
"Our customers are getting used to [having] on the personal side, [an] instant access of information,” Gifas said, explaining that individuals can sit on their couch and make transactions. “They’re checking to see where things are. Customers on the business side want the exact same efficiencies and flexibility – to be able to having banking anywhere and on the go."
Helping Customers Feel Secure Taking The Plunge
Change is not always easy, and businesses looking to integrate new banking technologies are no different, according to Gifas. When it comes to companies having to adapt, he said, they have to be very aware of existing types of fraud. Businesses need to be careful as they navigate through all products and services.
That’s where Capital One comes in, Gifas said.
"It’s our responsibility at Capital One to make sure we’re educating our customers and providing insight on all of these issues that come up and present them solutions to be more efficient."
The customer aspect is key to Gifas, and he added that area is where he’s been most focused on so far with Capital One. By getting to know the clients, their businesses and their needs, he said it will give him a better idea of the challenges that must be overcome.
"I just don’t want to build solutions that don’t add value, and that don’t differentiate their business,” Gifas said. “My goal is to be able to understand their needs and leverage the technology that already exists at Capital One and bridge that together to drive value for our customers."