- Fifth Third on Monday promoted Tim Spence — previously executive vice president and head of consumer banking, payments and strategy — to president, sparking speculation that the bank’s CEO, Greg Carmichael, may groom Spence to succeed him some day.
- Carmichael served as president for three years before springboarding to Fifth Third's top role in 2015.
- As president, Spence, 41, will oversee all business lines and regional banking, while continuing to lead the bank's strategy, the bank said Monday in a press release. Spence joined Fifth Third as chief strategy officer in 2015. Consumer banking and payments came under his purview in 2017. Before joining Fifth Third, Spence served as a senior partner at the consulting firm Oliver Wyman.
Impending retirements and health crises among top executives at two of the nation’s four largest banks have made succession top of mind in the past year.
Monday’s Fifth Third announcement comes nearly a year to the day after Citi elevated Jane Fraser to president, the bank’s No. 2 role. The nation's third-largest bank maintained in October that outgoing CEO Michael Corbat had long planned to retire in 2021.
But persistent risk management issues — punctuated by a $400 million fine from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which mandated that the bank take faster action to revamp its internal controls — accelerated Corbat's transition timeline.
"This will be a multiyear effort, and I believe it is best for the firm for my successor to lead this important work from the beginning," Corbat wrote in a memo last month, announcing that Fraser would take the helm in February, becoming the first woman to lead a major U.S. bank.
When JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon had emergency heart surgery in March, the nation's largest bank put not one but two executives in charge. Co-Presidents Daniel Pinto and Gordon Smith led the bank for four weeks while Dimon recovered — but those four weeks spanned the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and saw the bank temporarily close 20% of its branches and shift most of its employees to remote work, install a hiring freeze, halt share buybacks, and gear up to accept a massive infusion of small-business loan applications.
A Fifth Third spokesperson declined to comment on talk of succession at the bank. However, Monday's press release called out Spence's role as a "principal architect and catalyst" of the bank’s 2019 acquisition of MB Financial in Chicago. The move "dramatically changed the competitive landscape and positioned us for success in one of our most important markets," Carmichael said in the release.
"Tim has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and vision in driving the strategy and execution to transform Fifth Third through innovation and technology," Carmichael said.
Technology is an area for which Carmichael, 58, has a healthy respect. Before joining Fifth Third, he worked as chief information officer for technology and energy company Emerson Electric. He also served in leadership roles in IT at GE.
Carmichael came to the bank in 2003 as executive vice president and chief information officer before advancing to chief operating officer in 2006 and president in 2012.