SOURCE: SourceMedia

October 16, 2007 12:14 ET

American Banker to Honor Elizabeth James and Synovus Financial With 2007 Innovator Award

For Demonstrated Leadership in Technology, Payment Systems

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - October 16, 2007) - Elizabeth R. "Lee Lee" James, vice chairman and chief people officer at Synovus Financial Corp. of Columbus, Ga., will receive American Banker's 2007 Innovator Award at the publication's Best in Banking dinner and ceremony on November 29 at the Pierre Hotel in New York City.

James, who served as the company's chief information officer from 2001 until 2005, will be honored for her ongoing work in fostering a culture of innovation at Synovus, which is the parent company of 37 individual banking businesses.

"Banks have long wrestled with the challenge of combining the best qualities of a large institution with the most desirable attributes of a small institution," said David Longobardi, editor in chief of American Banker. "Synovus is among the rare few who have been able to deliver the best of both worlds."

With $33.2 billion in assets and operations in five Southeastern states, mostly in smaller and rural communities, Synovus has been able to stretch beyond the confines of a typical mid-sized bank to demonstrate leadership in technology -- in particular, payments -- as well as in customer service and corporate culture.

Among recent achievements, early this year Synovus became one of the first U.S. banking companies to introduce a mobile banking and payment system to its customers, at a time when most banks had not yet begun to consider mobile devices as a way to deliver banking services.

It also committed to becoming one of the first institutions to pilot "Secure Vault Payments" starting next year. The effort uses the automated clearinghouse network to make purchases over the Internet. In order to offer the payment option -- which promises lower cost to the merchant, better data security for the customer and a new source of fee income for the bank -- Synovus is enlisting local utilities, government agencies, and merchants.

Synovus was one of the first banks to use enterprise-scale software to integrate the management of its sales channels -- branch and teller, online, call centers -- beginning in 2002. Since then, it has incorporated new-account opening software, a sales-tracking and compensation-management system, and loan-origination functions into the enterprise system.

James's award will be among six bestowed on industry leaders at this year's Banker of The Year Awards gala. The others include the Banker of the Year, Community Banker of the Year, and Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Award honorees are selected by the editors of American Banker in an independent and journalistic process.

Since the inaugural Banker of the Year Awards dinner and ceremony in 2001, the gala has become the industry's premier event, attracting a "who's who" of lawmakers, regulators and leading executives.

To accompany the awards gala, a special report, Best in Banking 2007, showcasing the year's most important stories and trends, will be published in the November 29 edition of American Banker.

For information on attending or sponsoring the 2007 Banker of the Year Awards gala, please contact Jessica Yazujian at 212-803-6597.

About American Banker and SourceMedia, Inc.

American Banker, www.AmericanBanker.com, is the banking and financial services industry's premier daily source of information, news, and analysis for executives at banks of all sizes. Founded in 1836, with a current readership of more than 77,000, the publication covers topics including national and global issues, mortgages, consumer finance, legislation, investment products, card and payment systems and technology.

SourceMedia, an Investcorp company, is the pre-eminent provider of timely and essential news, analysis, research, and insights for members of the financial services community, and the related fields of accounting and technology. SourceMedia offers its clients and subscribers professional publications, industry-standard data applications, and in-depth seminars and conferences.

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