Zhongcai Zhang, Ph.D.
At New York Community Bank, Zhongcai Zhang provides thought leadership on data analytics. He works with a team of data and analytics professionals, helping conceptualize, design, develop, implement innovative analytical and data solutions to business challenges of varying complexities. These solutions facilitate the dissemination of processed data, provide the management with the pulse reading of business performance, help line of business leaders optimize their workflows, craft and refine strategies and tactics, and recalibrate operational programs and processes. He brings to the table a seasoned analytical lens, tested subject matter expertise and proven business acumen honed over two decades.
Zhongcai is an ardent advocate for analytics. It’s his belief that analytics makes not smart leaders but makes smart leaders smarter. “Analytics, when it’s done right, informs business decision-making. It confers illuminated understanding. It imparts derived learning. It reveals veiled intuitions,” he says. “When analytics is immersed, it is no longer as an afterthought nor a framework for one-off projects. In an analytical organization, analytics helps sharpen strategic lens, guide tactical maneuvers, spur innovation and drive transformation. In the end, it confers competitive edge. Analyzing data takes speed, precision, and, more importantly, business acumen to guide the process. Analytical insights ought to be not only actionable but ultimately bottom-line-driven.” Zhongcai attaches paramount importance to the fundamentals of analytics to ensure the integrity of data, the rigor of the methodology, and the ease of consumption of an analytical output.
Zhongcai is a contributor to the analytics community both in banking and in general, and a thought leader who speaks regularly at analytics, BI, and retail deposit conferences. His trio publication of invitation-to-write articles in recent years has been well received: “Analytics: What has changed and What has Not” appeared in CIO Review and was re-published in Banking CIO Outlook; “Becoming BI- (or Analytics-) Competent Organization” was published in CIO Review; and “Optimizing the Configuration of Technologies for Enterprise Data Analytics” appeared in MyTechMag.Com. In Corinium Group’s inaugural CAO conference in NYC in January 2016 and its subsequent gatherings, Zhongcai provided his envisioning of the emerging and evolving role of a chief analytics officer, from a practitioner’s perspective. He was quoted in a 2018 TDWI publication entitled, Before Hiring a Chief Analytics Officer, Answer These 3 Questions, interviewed by Forbes.com for the 2019 article, Why Organizations Need a Chief Analytics Officer, and cited in Finastra’s 2020 white paper, Taking the Lead: Business Analytics and Intelligence are Critical for Marketing Success in Today’s Disruptive Environment.
Retail deposits are near and dear to Zhongcai when it comes to analytics-powered deposit management. He started to introduce behavioral analytics and pricing elasticity analysis to the deposit pricing committee at AmTrust Bank as early as in 2001. He helped transform the deposit product and pricing management process into an analytics-driven one in the ensuing years. Zhongcai joined NYCB through the acquisition of AmTrust Bank at the end of 2009 and continued his leadership role in data analytics, including the support for deposit management, in an expanded business context. He has served on the executive team overseeing retail deposit gathering across the rising and declining rate environments. He led the development and implementation of several innovative and cost-effective product iterations during the last interest rate cycles, helping the company achieve significant savings on interest expenses. With his expertise on deposit analytics, Zhongcai has been a speaker at GFMI’s annual retail deposit strategy conference since 2016.
It’s worth mentioning that an analytics career in banking was actually not something Zhongcai planned on. Prior to his career in banking, Zhongcai was a research faculty at University at Buffalo. The sharpness in his analytical lens and the rigor in his methodological approaches benefited from the quantitative economic research work Zhongcai did for years in academia. In those academia years, he authored and co-authored several peer-reviewed articles in premier urban journals and research papers for US EPA and SBA. He also co-authored a peer-reviewed book published in 2001. Besides, Zhongcai served as a referee to review manuscripts submitted for publication for two reputable urban research journals. How did he then move from academia to corporate world? It was a de nova branch site selection model Zhongcai developed in his last year of doctoral studies for AmTrust Bank that led to the start of his banking career. His site selection model was used in the evaluation of over hundreds of locations and the opening of dozens of new branches in various markets. His geo-spatial analytical work was subsequently featured by a Pitney Bowes’ location intelligence publication back in 2009.
Zhongcai wholeheartedly believes that analytics is a journey. “Excellence in analytics is a continuum; and optimizing is the unrelenting task in this continuum along this journey, constantly challenging yet immensely rewarding,” he shares.
Zhongcai and his wife have three grown children. Outside work, Zhongcai enjoys hiking, cooking, photographing and traveling. He volunteers his time regularly at PTL Music of the Vineyard, a non-profit music ministry startup featuring the bilingual singing of his dear wife.
Zhongcai Zhang, Ph.D.
Chief Analytics Officer — NY Community Bank