Rick Leander, most recently the director of e-commerce at Mellon Financial Corp., has been named chief executive officer at Avantrust, the New York-based joint venture formed by AIG, Inc., and Dun & Bradstreet that offers an integrated suite of insurance products and technology to sellers, buyers and marketplaces.
Leander says his initial plans, along with those of the rest of Avantrust's senior management team, are to "spend a lot of time with customers trying to understand their decision-making process," when it comes to insurance. "Avantrust is very new," Leander adds. And with the collapse in the capital markets making companies much more cautious when it comes to new partners, "we have to have a strong understanding and focus on the customer."
And although Leander only has "two weeks under my belt" at Avantrust, he can already see some differences between his former employer and Avantrust. "The sales cycles is much longer at Avantrust, mainly because education is required," Leander says. "Many of the banking things were add-on products that the customers were already familiar with. In insurance, we are taking some of the products and applying them in the new economy state where more consultative sales efforts are needed."
At least one aspect of Leander's e-commerce experience will translate well into his new role. "At Mellon we spent a lot of time working with the business lines to help them get adjusted to the things that e-commerce requires, such as becoming real-time and recognizing that e-commerce exposes the operating environment and systems to the customer," Leander says. "It is all about helping the business become more customer focused."
Prior to joining Mellon, Leander served as managing director of strategic alliances and investments at Bank of America, something that he says will help him in his new role. "My previous roles were all focused around running businesses that were engaged in transactions and about businesses on a global scale," Leander says. "My experience fits in very well with what Avantrust does." Also while at Bank of America, Leander managed a team of professionals who created a bank-wide e-commerce delivery strategy involving distributed architecture. From 1986 to 1995, Leander worked at Citicorp, ending up as senior product director for corporate electronic delivery services.
Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology. View Full Bio