Moynihan’s BofA Shake-Up Paves Way for a New Crop of Leaders

(Bloomberg) — An era of power brokers near the top of Bank of America Corp. is ending as Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan elevates a fleet of younger executives into the ranks of eventual potential successors.

The shake-up gives two men with years of experience at the bank significantly more stature. Alastair Borthwick will take over as chief financial officer, while Dean Athanasia will add responsibility for the commercial bank to his role overseeing the consumer and small-business banking operation.

Still, the moves stop short of identifying a clear successor for Moynihan, 61, who already is one of the longest-serving heads of a giant U.S. bank and signaled anew on Friday his interest in staying on for years. The firm, notably, also didn’t identify a new chief operating officer following the announcement of Tom Montag’s retirement last month, leaving potential paths open for a slate of younger executives to advance in the future.

“The CEO will earn the right to stay around for another decade” as the company implied in a statement announcing the moves Friday, Mike Mayo, an analyst at Wells Fargo & Co., said in a note. The “management moves seem logical with a smooth transition through year-end, and the changes involve internal, long-tenured employees.”

Borthwick currently heads the lender’s expansive commercial-banking operation, which serves midsize companies and industries such as real estate and education. The 52-year-old joined the executive management team in 2020, while working closely with Montag on deals.

Athanasia, 55, is one of Bank of America’s longest-serving senior executives, having started at the bank in 1996. He most recently took charge of more than 70,000 employees who were responsible for more than 66 million U.S. consumers. Beyond that, he’s held roles serving clients ranging from small businesses to the ultra wealthy, while being responsible for adding thousands of financial advisers to the firm.

Montag’s Jobs

Much of the shake-up results from the planned departure of Montag, who is retiring at year-end after serving as COO and president of the investment bank. The bulk of his responsibility for global banking and markets will be shared by three people: Matthew Koder will lead global corporate and investment banking, Jim DeMare will continue to run global markets including trading, and Athanasia will take over commercial banking and business banking.

Executives across Wall Street had been watching to see who might take Montag’s position atop the investment bank, a decision that could send a signal about the firm’s strategy and appetite for risk.

Instead, heads of key businesses such as DeMare, Koder and Athanasia will report to the CEO.

Bank of America’s share of global mergers and acquisitions has risen, making it the No. 4 adviser in the world, while also maintaining almost as much share this year as JPMorgan Chase & Co. in underwriting U.S. investment-grade debt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Some key figures have left the investment bank recently, including co-head Jack MacDonald, who joined the boutique investment bank Centerview Partners along with a pair of technology bankers.

DeMare’s global-markets trading business has also faced defections. Fabrizio Gallo, the longtime stocks chief, departed last year after DeMare, his fixed-income counterpart, was promoted. The bank has since poached from rivals to shore up its ranks and put it on a better competitive footing.

Equities Trading

Still, Bank of America’s equities trading business was a highlight in its second-quarter earnings, posting a 33% increase and showing signs of rebound in a business that benefited from market volatility along with the rest of the street.

Bank of America, like its Wall Street competitors, has been pushing to improve diversity across the company and in its senior ranks. The lender named 279 managing directors in January, with about half of those women or people of color.

While the bank has inched closer to its diversity goals, improving racial and gender representation in most areas of the company, it has said it needs to do more. The latest changes help with that goal. The company elevated three woman to the senior management team, Holly O’Neill, Lauren Mogensen and Wendy Stewart.

In addition, new direct reports to Moynihan include two Black executives, an Asian executive and another manager who is a woman. Cathy Bessant, one of the more senior women on the management team who led technology and operations, will step into a new position as vice chair in Europe. She will work overseas with European boards focused on global integrated strategy, governance and client management.

Filling Bessant’s current roles, Aditya Bhasin was named chief technology and information officer. He recently was the bank’s chief information officer and head of technology for consumer, small business and other divisions. Tom Scrivener, who was head of consumer, small business and wealth operations, takes on a new role as chief operations executive.

The bank also announced the departure of one of its most senior women in the banking division, Sanaz Zaimi. She was head of fixed-income, currencies and commodities sales and rose under Montag as a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. alumnus. She took the lead on international banking deals and was head of FICC sales amid an executive shake-up in 2020, when she was added to the management team.

(Updates to add reference to Moynihan’s comment on continuing tenure in third paragraph)

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