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Wells Fargo’s New Vantage Banking Platform: Personalized AI for Small and Midsize Businesses

Wells Fargo’s journey towards developing a new Vantage banking platform for its business customers began with a different approach.

Reetika Grewal, the head of digital transformation, started with people first, technology second.

She describes how her team rebuilt a respected business banking package into a platform that uses artificial intelligence to personalize experiences and provide valuable insights to small and midsize businesses.

Think People First, Tech Second

Innovation in commercial banking often lags behind retail banking, where product improvements are more frequent. However, as Reetika Grewal sees it, the development process for both should be similar. The key to meeting the banking needs of customers, whether they are business people or retail consumers, is to understand who they are.

Grewal joined Wells Fargo in early 2021 as the executive vice president and head of digital transformation for its commercial bank and corporate and investment bank. In her early days, she evaluated Wells Fargo’s offerings for small and midsize business customers and identified areas for improvement.

“My biggest takeaway was that the range of customers that we serve in this space was not reflected in the tools that we offered our clients,” says Grewal. Wells Fargo had a lineup of digital business services that used recent technology, but with little customization or adaptability built in.

“There can’t be one-size-fits-all, because no one thinks that way or builds software that way anymore,” says Grewal. “Think of the way you enter your Amazon experience. It’s very personalized and is driven by your behaviors. Amazon personalizes down to ‘one.'”

Wells Fargo’s New Vantage Platform

Under Reetika Grewal’s direction, Wells Fargo began rolling out its new Vantage platform in late 2022. The new platform was a major reboot of the CEO Portal banking platform, which was considered state of the art in its day but needed improvement.

Grewal says she made a point of not thinking in terms of digital services being strictly for business or for consumers. “At a very basic level, we look at consumer applications because, at the end of the day, the people who interact with our commercial banking tools are consumers too,” says Grewal. “So we need to study a lot of the consumer stuff so we can bring some of that simplicity and transparency to the commercial banking side.”

Serving “Ambitious Amy” and Beyond

Reetika Grewal has spent much of her career in digital banking and payments on the commercial side, including past posts at JPMorgan Chase, Silicon Valley Bank, and Wells Fargo itself. “I love this space because these clients are so dynamic,” she says.

To better understand the needs of businesses of different types and stages of maturity, Grewal’s group developed a series of “business personas” built around the owner or manager. These personas included a range of genders and ethnicities and were created in collaboration with the lines of business.

For example, “Ambitious Amy” represents an earlier stage company and includes the company’s sales, the number of employees, and the complexity of banking products and services needed. In total, 19 personas were developed, including “Efficiency Ella,” “Organized Olivia,” and “Seasoned Saul.”

“We built these personas with the lines of business, asking questions to see how needs varied,” says Grewal. This exercise helped solidify the business units’ understanding of their customers’ needs and provided clarity for the digital team.

In conclusion, Wells Fargo’s development of the new Vantage banking platform for business customers began from an innovative perspective, putting people first and technology second. Under the leadership of Reetika Grewal, the team at Wells Fargo worked to better understand the range of customers they serve, creating personalized experiences through the use of artificial intelligence. 

By developing business personas and working with various business units, the team was able to clarify the needs of their customers and provide a more tailored and valuable banking experience. With the successful launch of the Wells Fargo Vantage platform, the bank is setting a new standard for commercial banking and demonstrating their commitment to serving the diverse needs of small and midsize businesses.

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