Wachovias roots are in the southeastern United States, but it is branching out across the globe. Wachovia, based in Charlotte, N.C., has $706.4 billion in assets and $408.1 billion in total deposits, with a presence extending to the West Coast of the United States, Europe and, most recently, Asia. Susan Certoma, the CIO of Wachovias Corporate and Investment Bank, has been in IT for more than 20 years. Prior to joining Wachovia in 2004, Certoma was a vice president at Goldman Sachs & Co., leading the global sales/trading technology organization. Certoma recently spoke with eWEEK Editor Debra Donston about the initiatives she is driving at Wachovia.
Could you explain your role at Wachovia?
Im the CIO, Corporate and Investment Bank, at Wachovia. The Corporate and Investment Bank is one of four major businesses in Wachovia as a financial services institution, and it is accountable for approximately 25 percent of the bottom-line revenue for the bank.
I support what you traditionally know as capital markets types of businesses that you would see at a Goldman or a Morgan. In addition, it spreads beyond those businesses to [Department of] Treasury finance, trade services, correspondent banking, capital financing, etc. So we are doing some very deliberate programs and work in my organization, which is an organization of about 1,500 people from a technology perspective.
Wachovia has been growing of late. In what areas is the institution now located?
We are global. We have a large base in Charlotte, since, historically, we are a southeastern financial institution. But that has changed over the years. We now have significant presence in the United States in Philadelphia and New York for the businesses I cover, and weve just begun to expand to the West Coast.
We have also expanded into Europe—most notably, London, but with work going on in Frankfurt and Geneva. We also have a beginning presence in Asia—mostly in Hong Kong but also in Shanghai, and youll see significant growth in the Asia region over the next two to three years.
What are some of the key initiatives your group is working on?
We are focused on several different areas. One has been, from a business alignment perspective, on the significant development of our platforms to grow Wachovias corporate investment bank businesses from being kind of a 13th or 14th in the ranking when I first joined about three years ago to being one of the top-tier players that compete with Lehman, Goldman and Morgan.
Unlike some of the other investment banks, we tend to specialize in very niche areas, such as derivatives and complex structured products. And all of that actually requires us to have significant computing power—the ability to have the performance and the power to do complex calculations and analytics.
How are you leveraging technology to do all that?
We have been very much focused on the development of our front-to-back platform on several levels.
One has been on an application infrastructure level. We have invested and delivered a significant amount of application infrastructure on services-oriented architecture, which serves several purposes, one of which ties in to our strategy around green IT.
We also have made significant investment in our dynamic utility infrastructure environment, which is the environment that we consider provides all the services that an application group would play into—anything from caching services to our grid environment to our fabric server implementations to our golden-copies-of-data environment. So, its an end-to-end utility that moves us more and more toward autonomic computing.
Other key initiatives are based on that SOA [service-oriented architecture], all the way from a sales perspective and research perspective through trading and mid- to back-office functions as well as finance functions. Were rebuilding our platform.
Which vendors are you working with on driving this end-to-end utility computing project?
When we look at them, we look at several different areas. So, some of the vendors we work with are fairly mainstream.
From a messaging environment, we work with Tibco. We actually formed a very strategic partnership with them about two years ago and cut a significant deal with them where we are using their EMS [Enterprise Message Service] products, as well as their BusinessWorks and BusinessEvents products within our environment.
We tend to look at vendors who have a strategy and understand how they will integrate holistically. So we tend not to buy closed vendors or application vendors. We tend to buy vendors that provide frameworks or tool sets or services that we can integrate into our environment.