Ralph Vitale is the man with the mission of planning and implementing the integration of the Deutsche global securities services (GSS) business with State Street, where he is executive vice president, responsible for securities finance. “This is an enormously complex transaction, as it covers a lot of people in a lot of places,” he says.
It was a project where the bank had to hit the ground running. “From the outset it was obvious that if we waited to think about executing on it before the deal happened, we’d be too late. I put together a team and started work on executing against our objectives if we were the successful bidder.”
So by the time State Street entered into the phase of exclusive negotiations, Vitale and his team had a number of months of hard work under their belts already.
As a result of the due diligence being done, mainly in New York and London, there was a flow of information about the deal, which provided enough data to have a general understanding of what was involved. “As soon a we realised we were going into exclusive negotiations we pulled out all the stops and staffed up more with some of the best and brightest in State Street.”
This team has been together for some months now developing the detailed plans about how it will all work. But the actual team reporting into the project is not likely to exceed 30. “Its prime role is to help guide the rest of the organisation through the process. It will take everyone in the organisation to make this happen effectively.”
The task is somewhat daunting with some 2,200 new clients to be brought on board, and 3,300 employees in a number of locations. “We will do this seamlessly to these new customers and employees and to our existing customers and employees,” says Vitale.
That’s a tall order to get done effectively, but not too tall, he reckons. “We surprised everyone by getting the Scottish Widows outsourcing transaction completed on budget and ahead of schedule. Some said we could not handle it.” The skills being used for the integration are the same as those used every day, when integrating new business.
The bank has been more active as an acquirer than many think, he says. “It’s just that we have chosen principally to grow our business more organically, but we have been a consistent acquirer over the years.” The acquisitions have been usually to acquire a product area or some particular expertise, rather than acquiring a large client base, though some of that has happened as with the Lloyds Bank deal in the UK. “So on acquisitions, we generally have a great deal of experience.”
The planning process requires working out “how we approach integration in one place versus another, and one product set versus another – that’s where the complexity is, it is not a single thing in a single place”. He adds: “And that’s where the opportunity is.”
It is a matter of moving on all fronts simultaneously, with the goal of completing the whole transaction in 12 to 18 months’ time. He sees it as a two-way process, where in some cases the Deutsche capabilities and technology are to the fore and others where it will be more advantageous to move their customers onto State Street’s technology platform. “Our aim is to do it seamlessly, while continuing to deliver services to existing customers.”
Vitale points out that in the integration process “we don’t just have our own resources, but those of Deutsche’s GSS team, who are coming over. They have a great client servicing organisation and they are as interested as we are in this deal. It is not just State Street people who will make this happen.”