Chase Hires Acxiom CMO Suther as Chief Customer Officer

Data Company Exec to Help Lead New Data-Driven Business

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Financial services companies deal with a lot of data, so it comes as little surprise that JPMorgan Chase has looked to the data industry for its latest marketing hire. The bank has appointed Tim Suther, CMO of database marketing company Acxiom, as chief customer officer of a new business still being kept under wraps.

"I'm going to Chase to work on a new venture to use information to serve customers better," Mr. Suther said Thursday morning. Other than saying he is to focus on marketing, project management and product development, he declined to share much about the new role he will start next week, such as how he envisions using Chase's customer data for online and offline marketing or the name and size of his new division at Chase. Representatives from Chase and Acxiom did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tim Suther
Tim Suther

The chief customer officer role is an entirely new one at Chase, said Mr. Suther.

"Chase is one of the great institutions of the world. The way data and information is going, first-party data is king. They have a combination of a great institution and great leadership with information-rich assets and a commitment to putting them to use to serve customers better. It's a compelling proposition," Mr. Suther said.

Mr. Suther is no stranger to the financial services industry. Before joining Acxiom, he had a three-year stint with Metavante, a banking industry services provider that developed payment products such as electronic bill payments. Transaction processing firm Fidelity National Information Services acquired Metavante in 2009.

The financial services industry is regulated more heavily than others, but Mr. Suther suggested it won't be a significant change for him. "The financial services world has compliance conditions that Acxiom does not, but both companies know the power of [privacy and brand reputation]," he said.

Earlier this year The Wall Street Journal reported that Chase had begun to pool its data on customers' purchase histories with public economic numbers as a way to compile consumer segments. In February Chase, which spent $2.58 billion on marketing in 2012, partnered with Visa on a payments program called Chase Merchant Services that would enable merchants to target offers to people with Chase Visa cards. Chase came under fire two years ago when customers' email addresses were accessed as part of a larger data breach suffered by third-party data provider and Acxiom competitor Epsilon.

Mr. Suther stressed that he is leaving Acxiom on good terms and has already informed the company of his departure. "Acxiom is one of the preeminent data companies in the world. Their people, products and strategy are so right on. I'm confident the company is going to put a dent on the marketing and advertising world," he said.

Acxiom specializes in helping brands market to people based on theirs and others' first-party customer data. Earlier this year Acxiom partnered with Facebook to allow advertisers to target ads on the social network based on Acxiom's compiled customer segments, such as whether someone is a homeowner, spends primarily with cash or shops at high-end retail stores.

According to Mr. Suther, Acxiom is actively seeking his replacement.