"We felt very strongly that we needed someone who has had the experience both on the credit card side as well as on the retail banking side," President-CEO Eugene Lockhart said at a news conference last week to introduce Mr. Heuer.
"Our mission is primarily to help our members make more money," said Mr. Heuer. "The more responsive and the more focused we are on our customer, the better the relationship will be. That's a day-to-day challenge."
Mr. Heuer succeeded Peter S.P. Dimsey, who came to the post with a strong brand marketing background at General Foods and Seagram and Avis.
"The common complaint among bankers is that there is too much competition among MasterCard and Visa and not enough support for the individual banks," said Joseph E. Wallace, head of Chicago-based consultant International Travelers Check. "Now, maybe MasterCard is saying they are going back to their roots in a way."
Among Mr. Heuer's most immediate charges will be supervising a move of corporate headquarters from New York City to suburban Purchase, N.Y., and finishing the media-buying account review for an ad agency.
Long term, Mr. Heuer will be faced with the task of capturing market share from Visa, American Express, Discover and others.
His appointment comes at a time when banks are also increasingly trying to offer more services. MasterCard's Mr. Lockhart said the group is staking its growth prospects in the U.S. on three key areas: co-branded cards, debit cards and the corporate market.
Overall, MasterCard has shown strong growth last year, even though it still trails Visa by a wide margin. In 1994, MasterCard U.S. volume increased 23.8% to $169.9 billion. Cards in circulation were up 15.9% to 130.7 million.
In contrast, Visa USA reported total U.S. card volume of $270.9 billion, up 26%. Visa cards jumped 22% to 205.7 million.
Alan J. Heuer
BORN: July 21, 1941, Rochester, N.Y.
EDUCATION: B.A., economics, Colgate University, 1963; MBA, economics and finance, University of Rochester, 1972.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Exec VP-retail operations, Bank of New York, 1992-95; spent 28 years at Marine Midland, rising from management trainee in Rochester to chief banking officer, responsible for all banking operations.
PERSONAL: Married to Jean; four children. Lives in Darien, Conn.