Citizens Financial Group

Encouraging Innovation Through Hiring Outsiders


Employing creative people with diverse skills who challenge the status quo



Main source of information: The Innovative Enterprise, Harvard Business Review

"The most important step I've taken to encourage innovation is to hire people who have experience outside of banking creative people who can apply what they've learned in dynamic, customer-centric categories to our more traditional business," says Hal Tovin, a top manager of Citizens Financial Group. For example, Citizens Financial Group have put full service branches into grocery stores. the group's in-store banking business is run by a person with a sales and marketing background. The ATM business is run by someone who used to be in real estate. Hal Tovin himself is a classically trained marketer of packaged goods.

"Employing people with diverse skills and talents helps us challenge the status quo when developing business strategies," continues Hal Tovin. "Most banks, for example, look at in-store banking as a service for existing customers. We take a very different view; we use our grocery store branches to acquire new customers. We hire people from retail stores like the Gap, Marcy's, and Starbucks and screen them for what we call BVAC characteristics: bright, verbal, assertive, creative. The staff go into the grocery aisles wearing their Citizens aprons, pushing their Citizens grocery charts with promotional offers, and getting into friendly conversation. Their objective is to develop relationships with store customers. Then when shoppers have banking needs, they'll find a familiar face at the bank. The result is that we've built a billion-dollar bank in just our in-store branches."