All Articles Finance Huntington's Navarro goes back to her roots to improve consumer banking

Huntington’s Navarro goes back to her roots to improve consumer banking

4 min read


Mary W. Navarro is a senior executive vice president at Huntington Bancshares, where she is responsible for the branch network, business banking, mortgage and consumer lending, marketing, online banking, call centers and deposits. Navarro began her career as a part-time teller in high school and has more than 33 years of banking experience.

Can you explain how Huntington’s new 24-Hour Grace offering works and what was the genesis/evolution of the program?

24-Hour Grace is pretty simple and very helpful for our customers. 24-Hour Grace is the first-and-only service of its kind that gives Huntington customers an additional day to cover overdrafts to their consumer bank accounts. We automatically waive overdraft fees as long as the customer makes a deposit during the next business day to resolve the overdraft and bring the account to a positive balance.

In late 2009, we recognized a significant shift in consumer attitudes toward banking and we knew we wanted to find a way to stand out amongst our competitors. We began testing several innovative checking account features, and we were reviewing a few strong options in focus groups, when a customer commented, “Overdrafts are usually an honest mistake, I wish you’d just give me time to fix it,” which really got us thinking. The idea took hold quickly and we developed 24-Hour Grace in the spirit of listening to our customers and doing what’s right.

With more than 6,000 direct reports, what are the three key management traits critical to success?

My three key management traits critical to success are to: 1.) Always hire the very best people and don’t compromise at all on that goal; 2.) Give your colleagues clear stretch goals; provide regular feedback and assist where needed; and, 3.) Create a very positive team environment where everyone can learn and help each other, so the whole team wins. Winning is critically important to the overall environment and momentum of the organization.

Every year around the Fourth of July you spend a day working at a Huntington branch working as a teller. Can you tell us more about that tradition?

It’s very helpful for me to see firsthand how things work and I always get ideas on things we could improve. I started in banking as a part-time teller in high school, so I like to spend time with the tellers. I give them a little break and they give me insightful feedback. I’m not that fast anymore, so I’m not so sure the branches like it when I come run the drive-thru, but it’s something I enjoy and find invaluable.

What are some of the technologies Huntington is developing to keep up with consumers’ ever-growing demand for convenient and reliable banking?

There’s certainly a healthy consumer demand for new and better technology to make banking more convenient. At Huntington, our No. 1 priority is creating the best experience for our customers. And increasingly, customers are looking for better online and mobile solutions and more convenience. We see this increased appetite for convenience, coupled with all the new technology, as a great opportunity.

We’re creating a culture of innovation at Huntington to help us seize the moment to give our customers more convenient, reliable and safe ways to interact and bank with us. We’re currently developing new Android and iPhone mobile applications (to replace our existing Web browser mobile app), which is a necessary foundation on which we’ll build several other exciting offerings.

You are currently serving as chair of the Consumer Bankers Association’s board of directors. What are your objectives for your tenure as board chair?

As chair of the CBA board of directors, I am proud to help lead the only trade association focused exclusively on consumer banking. We want to be the “go to” organization for our members on all issues relating to consumer banking. CBA’s mission is to preserve and promote the consumer banking industry as it strives to fulfill the financial needs of the American consumer. In the wake of the recession, quite a bit of work remains to be done with regard to repairing the reputation of banking institutions.

One of our key objectives for 2011 is to continue to educate members of Congress on the myriad of issues threatening the future of retail banking. CBA’s government relations team continues to deal with unprecedented issues and is hard at work on Capitol Hill and with the federal banking regulatory agencies to relay member concerns and emphasize a healthy national banking system is critical to a full economic recovery.