Updated August 31 at 6:31pm

Name change emphasizes Santander’s global reach

By Rhonda J. Miller
PBN Staff Writer

In Rhode Island’s competitive banking landscape, Sovereign Bank is preparing its new signage and assuring commercial and consumer customers of a seamless transition as well as enhanced local and global services when it, at last, becomes Santander Bank on Oct. 17.

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BANKING

Name change emphasizes Santander’s global reach

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In Rhode Island’s competitive banking landscape, Sovereign Bank is preparing its new signage and assuring commercial and consumer customers of a seamless transition as well as enhanced local and global services when it, at last, becomes Santander Bank on Oct. 17.

Four years after Sovereign was acquired by the global banking giant Banco Santander SA, which is based in Spain, the long-promised name change was officially announced on July 24.

In the financial industry’s current environment of mergers, acquisitions and name changes that might cause some banking customers to get dizzy, Sovereign executives are repeating the promise that account numbers, PIN numbers and everything else will slip right over the Oct. 17 transition to Santander without a hiccup.

“With this name change, the great thing is the customers don’t have to do anything. There aren’t going to be systems changes,” said Sovereign Market Manager for Commercial Banking in Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts John Silva, who is based in Providence.

Twenty-three years in banking – with 22 of those years in Rhode Island – have given Silva a been-there-done-that-survived-that outlook on the impact of the Sovereign-to-Santander name change.

“I have been here a long time, and most of that time has been in the commercial banking arena. And there has been change throughout that time,” said Silva. “I worked for the predecessor banks. The bank names have changed three times while I’m sitting at the same desk.

“We went from Hospital Trust to BankBoston to Sovereign Bank. Change is a part of what’s going on in banking.” said Silva.

The name change of Boston-based Sovereign to Santander is basically a rebranding, since Santander has been a presence in the region since it acquired Sovereign in 2009, said Christine Pratt, senior financial analyst for the Boston-based Aite Group, an independent research and advisory firm that focuses on business, technology and regulatory issues and their impact on the financial services industry.

“I don’t think the name change is going to have much impact,” said Pratt. “People don’t usually leave their bank because the name changed.

“Sovereign Bank was never really a huge household name around here the way Bay Bank, BankBoston or Citizens [Bank] was,” Pratt said.

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