Visa CEO Al Kelly will step aside and the card network will promote President Ryan McInerney to the chief executive role next February, the company said in a press release Thursday.
Kelly will stay on at the company as executive chairman.
Visa, the biggest U.S. card network, has been preparing McInerney for the top role for nearly a decade. He will take the new job Feb. 1, the company said.
“Ryan’s appointment reflects the Board’s very well-established and thoughtful succession plan,” the company’s lead independent board director, John Lundgren, said in the release.
McInerney, 47, was hired as Visa’s president in 2013. He came to the company from JPMorgan Chase, where he had been CEO of consumer banking, among other roles, following the start of his career at the global consulting firm McKinsey, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
McInerney was unanimously elected by the board to the new role and he is expected to join it next year, the filing said.
“Ryan has boundless energy and passion for this business and in his role as President, and as my close partner for the past six years, he has become intimately familiar with how Visa operates and the exciting opportunities this industry presents,” Kelly said in the release.
Kelly, 64, has been CEO since 2016 and chairman since 2019. He has led Visa through a tumultuous period in recent years — guiding it through the COVID-19 pandemic, then racing to evacuate employees amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year and steering the company amid a stock-price roller-coaster since 2020. The stock has edged down from a mid-2021 peak.
In a presentation Tuesday at a Citi financial technology conference, McInerney extolled the company’s business opportunities across an array of segments, from business-to-business to earned-wage access to remittances, and described the possibilities all over the world, from Africa to Canada.
There is “tons of room to run,” he said.
The transition comes as Visa aims to keep driving growth while economic challenges face users in many countries where the card company does business. After Russia invaded Ukraine this year, Visa was forced to pull out of that region. And like other companies, it has been waiting on a full recovery of China from the jolt of the pandemic.
While Visa has managed to buoy profits and revenue despite the pandemic and other hurdles, with the help of a rise in e-commerce and debit card use, it has also faced questions about the expanding field of competition offering alternative payment tools, such as buy-now-pay-later financing.
When asked about possible acquisitions at the Citi conference, McInerney noted that the current world economic situation also offers more prospects for acquisitions.
“We think right now, and especially over the next six, 12, 18 months, there should be a lot of opportunities, as you might expect,” McInerney said. “We are spending a lot of time understanding a lot of the different companies around the planet that play in all the areas of our value-added services business and beyond.”
The expertise he’s gained in his world travels for the company will direct any of those investments. “We're familiar with kind of how they make money, how they go to market, and those types of things,” he said. “We certainly look to be an opportunistic investor and acquirer of companies over the foreseeable future.”