CHARLOTTE - Bank of America's new chief executive, Brian Moynihan, has announced his team of direct reports, mostly keeping in line with the regime of predecessor Ken Lewis.
Moynihan did make a few significant changes. He said the bank will look for a new chief financial officer from outside the company, with current CFO Joe Price taking Moynihan's old job as head of consumer banking.
And Greg Curl, who had been a candidate for the CEO job, will leave his position as chief risk officer but remain in the circle of the CEO's direct reports.
New CEOs often clean house, installing their own advisers in top positions. Moynihan, the CEO for a week and a half, wouldn't directly comment on what his management announcement signaled.
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"I think I looked at what was in the best interest of the company and made the decision to put in place the best management team," he said in an interview with the Observer. "How you want to characterize that is up to you."
He did note that many of the executives "are all doing what they did yesterday." Moynihan's team will include Steele Alphin, the chief administrative officer and a close confidant of Lewis.
Nancy Bush, an analyst with NAB Research, said the management announcement is in line with Moynihan's message "that the company needs stability and continuity right now more than anything else."
Though Charlotte-based Bank of America often grows its leaders from its own ranks, Bush said it was smart for the bank to look for a CFO from the outside. The CFO is the bank's main number cruncher and its primary face to Wall Street analysts.
"You can get a management team that's too inbred, so I think it's a good idea that they have at least one major player from the outside," Bush said.
Moynihan lives in Boston and hasn't said whether he'll move here. But the bank has said that the headquarters will stay in Charlotte. Moynihan joined Bank of America in 2004 when it bought his employer, FleetBoston Financial.
Six of Moynihan's 11 direct reports are based in Charlotte. That's in line with Lewis' team, which had four of nine based in Charlotte. Moynihan promoted Charlotte-based executive Cathy Bessant, a past chair of the Charlotte Chamber, to his list of direct reports. He also brought the Charlotte-based general counsel, Ed O'Keefe, into the circle of direct reports.
Claude Lilly, the former dean of UNC Charlotte's business school, said Moynihan's announcement was positive for Charlotte, but that it didn't surprise him.
"I think the new CEO looked around the company and said, 'Where's my talent?' and the vast majority of talent was in Charlotte," said Lilly, who is now the dean of Clemson's College of Business and Behavioral Science.
"I think this is going to give Charlotte a comfort level," Lilly added, though he also said that he never thought Charlotte "was ever in any danger of dropping off the radar screen as a city."
Moynihan said he moved Price because he needed him for the important consumer banking division, not because he was disappointed in his performance as CFO. Bank of America has the biggest consumer bank in the country. The Charlotte-based unit encompasses a wide range of services, including credit cards, deposits and small business.
"I just gave him the job I had before this, so it's obvious I have great confidence in his ability," Moynihan said.
He said he wants an external candidate for the CFO job because "in my judgment, it was the right thing to do." He said regulators were not involved in the decision.
The bank didn't give a timeline for when it might name a new CFO. Price will remain in the job until Feb. 1, when bank executive Neil Cotty will step in as interim CFO.
Like Moynihan, Price worked closely with Lewis on the 2008 decision to purchase Merrill Lynch. In December 2008, when Lewis went to Washington, D.C., to try to back out of the Merrill deal, he took Price and Moynihan.
Curl, who will no longer be chief risk officer, is taking on a new position where he'll "focus on key strategic partnerships critical to Bank of America's global capabilities," according to a statement from the bank.
Moynihan praised Curl, saying in a statement that Curl had "positioned Bank of America for strength, stability and soundness" as the bank works through the current economic crisis.
"I have benefited from his counsel and judgment," Moynihan added.
James Early, an analyst at The Motley Fool, called Curl's move "the elephant in the room," for two reasons.
"First is that Moynihan needed to decide how to handle a former rival," Early said. "Second is that Curl represents the old Charlotte way of doing things. Ten years ago, being placed in charge of strategy partnerships would have actually been pretty significant.
"These days, it means a whole lot less, and that's by design. Moynihan is moving the bank in one direction and Greg Curl in another, and I'm sure Greg can read between the lines."
Curl, who was also close to Lewis, will be replaced by Bruce Thompson, the managing director of global capital markets. Thompson is based in New York.