- Bank of America Vice Chair Anne Finucane and Chief Operating Officer Tom Montag are retiring at the end of the year, the bank announced Thursday.
- Finucane and Montag’s influence across more than a decade at the bank can hardly be overstated. Finucane leads Bank of America’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts, and served as a key architect of the bank’s $1 billion-plus racial equality pledge in 2020, its plan this year to triple environmental financing to $1 trillion by 2030, and its effort to boost company-wide minimum wage to $25 per hour by 2025. Montag oversees the bank’s global banking and global markets businesses, which account for 46% of the company’s revenue — a percentage that has increased from 36% in 2009, the lender said in a press release Thursday.
- Succession plans will be rolled out in the coming weeks, the bank said. Those upcoming moves may shape the next generation of leadership at the U.S.’s second-largest bank.
With Thursday’s announcement, Bank of America becomes the fourth of the six largest U.S. banks to shake up its C-suite this year.
JPMorgan Chase in May promoted Marianne Lake and Jennifer Piepszak to become co-heads of the bank’s consumer and community banking unit, putting two women in a position to potentially succeed Jamie Dimon as CEO. The move came as the bank announced the retirement of Co-President Gordon Smith at the end of the year.
Morgan Stanley, two days later, tapped Ted Pick and Andy Saperstein as co-presidents of the bank, setting up a potential two-person race to become CEO after James Gorman. Concurrently, the bank also named a new CFO and a co-head of strategy. Morgan Stanley had been without a president since Colm Kelleher stepped down in 2019.
Montag had once been seen as a potential successor to Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan in a pinch, according to CNBC. In fact, his pay exceeded Moynihan’s for years, according to Bloomberg. But his age — at 64, he is more than two years older than Moynihan — is making that much less likely. And Montag has earned a polarizing reputation at the company.
He joined Merrill Lynch in 2008 as head of trading, shortly before Bank of America bought the investment bank. Under his oversight, Bank of America’s investment bankers took in record-high fees in 2020. But a New York Times report in May suggested Montag pressured employees to return to the office amid last year’s initial swell of the COVID-19 pandemic, causing some workers to fear they’d lose their jobs or bonuses if they didn’t.
“Tom joined the company during one of the most challenging periods in financial services history and skillfully steered the business to be one of the few financial institutions that can help clients raise cash, move money, expand into new markets, and manage risk in every major market around the world,” Moynihan said in Bank of America’s press release Thursday. “Very few people have achieved as much business success as Tom and become equally well known globally by his clients.”
Montag previously served at Goldman Sachs for 22 years. “It’s rare to find a leader like Tom who combines capital-market expertise and the ability to connect and motivate people,” Hank Paulson, former Treasury secretary and Goldman Sachs CEO, told The New York Times. “Clients love working with him, he gets results and he does so with integrity.”
After their retirements, Montag and Finucane will both be members of Bank of America’s global advisory council. Finucane will also take a non-executive chairman role at Bank of America Europe and become a non-executive board member of BofA Securities Europe.
Finucane came to Bank of America in 2004, when the lender bought Fleet Bank, the Boston-based institution where she worked as chief marketing officer. That acquisition brought Moynihan to Bank of America, too — first as president of global wealth and investment management. He became CEO of Merrill Lynch in 2008 and of Bank of America in 2010.
“Anne has been a trusted adviser and invaluable partner for many years,” Moynihan said in Thursday’s press release. “From her time as one of the few senior women executives in financial services to today, she has provided unparalleled strategic vision, helping to make banking more transparent, while serving as a tireless advocate for equality, sustainable energy, education and health care.”
Finucane became the bank’s first woman vice chair in 2015, and Moynihan, for one, has joked that “we all report to Anne,” CNBC reported.
“It’s hard to get away from me if I have a point of view, because I’m just going to keep at it,” Finucane told The New York Times. “What I lack in terms of talent, I make up for in terms of stamina.”
At 69, Finucane, like Montag, appeared to be aging out of the running to succeed Moynihan. She told The Wall Street Journal she had been considering retiring for some time, but the pandemic delayed her timeline.
In more than 16 years at Bank of America, Finucane has served as a go-to image molder, especially when contentious issues come to the fore. She helped rebuild the bank’s brand after it took knocks in 2008 for the Countrywide subprime mortgage scandal. That and other missteps cost Bank of America $76.1 billion in fines over the next decade — the most among the largest U.S. banks, according to The New York Times.
“I’m very proud that we repaired the reputation of the company,” Finucane told the publication. “The management team dug in, and we worked together to improve everything we had power over: the customer experience, the number of businesses we would be in, the culture.”
Finucane’s messaging steered the bank through its decisions to stop financing makers of military-style assault rifles, to stop lending to companies that run private prisons, and its more recent efforts to narrow the racial wealth gap and boost ESG financing.
Moynihan — whose tenure atop Bank of America has mirrored, in duration, Gorman’s at Morgan Stanley — has said he hopes to lead the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank for years to come, according to CNBC. So the bank’s upcoming succession plans may not propel any executives immediately into the top spot.
But the bank last year began an executive shuffle, according to Bloomberg. It elevated eight executives to its management team, including Alastair Borthwick, president of commercial banking, and Steve Boland, president of retail banking.
Montag also repositioned some of his deputies then, tapping Jim DeMare to lead the sales and trading division and installing Matthew Koder atop corporate and investment banking.
Finucane’s departure leaves Cathy Bessant, the company’s chief technology officer, and Katy Knox, the head of Bank of America’s private bank, among the institution’s top women executives.
Finucane and Montag’s duties could be split among a number of senior executives, Bloomberg reported, citing an anonymous source.