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ELITE 8 2012: Julie Elberfeld Builds a Robust Commercial Banking IT Infrastructure

When Capital One asked Julie Elberfeld, Commercial CIO of Capital One Bank, to build an IT infrastructure for its commercial bank from the ground up, she jumped at the opportunity. You might say she likes a challenge.

Nobody who knows the work Julie Elberfeld has been doing for the past couple of years would doubt her when she says, "I'm really one who enjoys a challenge." When Elberfeld, managing VP and commercial CIO for Capital One Bank, was hired two years ago to head the IT team for Capital One's commercial banking operations, the company had almost no commercial banking infrastructure.

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McLean, Va.-based Capital One ($296 billion in total assets) had just acquired three regional banks -- Hibernia, North Fork and Chevy Chase -- turning the company into a top 10 bank. But the institutions that had been acquired were scaled for much smaller organizations, recalls Elberfeld, and in some cases were still manually conducting commercial operations such as relationship management, sales and credit. Elberfeld was charged with building a new commercial banking infrastructure at Capital One from the ground up.

There was so much work to be done, she says, that it was like joining a start-up. "We had to figure out how to take what was there with the three companies but apply technology to the scale of the company that we had become," Elberfeld explains. "Unlike many bank acquisitions where you have an end-state in mind and you convert the acquired bank to that end-state, we didn't really have that end-state in mind." Instead, Elberfeld and her colleagues had to figure out what it would look like.

Capital One hired Elberfeld in part because she had previously completed a marathon of commercial banking system implementations as CIO of Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank. But at Capital One, she was going to have to sprint to the finish line. "I had done something similar at Fifth Third over a 10-year period," Elberfeld says. "At Capital One it was a two-year period."

One of the biggest initiatives that Elberfeld and her IT team completed was the Commercial Infrastructure Credit Program, which digitized the commercial bank's credit underwriting processes. "Many of our new people had joined from larger commercial banks and longed for the technology that they used at those other banks that gave them the visibility of the full customer relationship, paperless workflows, and robust and integrated systems that span the full credit life cycle," Elberfeld relates.

According to Elberfeld, she and her team worked extensively with their business partners to understand their needs and conducted research with analysts, bankers and IT personnel to identify solutions that fit Capital One's operations. In the end, the technology organization delivered to the commercial bank a new wholesale customer relationship file, a new sales and relationship tool, a state-of-the-art commercial end servicing platform, a management platform, and a new underwriting system. Elberfeld says the program gave the bank the end-state technology infrastructure that it needed to be a top commercial bank, filling the gaps left by the legacy systems of the acquired banks. The program's initial rollout was completed in May, but Elberfeld expects that she and her team will continue to tailor the platform as needed.

Jonathan Camhi has been an associate editor with Bank Systems & Technology since 2012. He previously worked as a freelance journalist in New York City covering politics, health and immigration, and has a master's degree from the City University of New York's Graduate School ... View Full Bio

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