The Charlotte Observer (Sunday)

Bill Rogers takes over as CEO of Charlotte-based Truist bank

- BY HANNAH LANG hlang@charlotteo­bserver.com

Charlotte’s second-biggest bank gets a new leader this weekend, one of several changes set to take place at Truist as the bank moves to wrap up its post-merger integratio­n plans next year.

On Sunday, Sept. 12, current Truist CEO Kelly King will step down and former SunTrust CEO Bill Rogers will assume the role. King, formerly the CEO at BB&T, will remain chairman of the board.

Rogers has been president and chief operating officer at Truist since the bank was formed in 2019 with the merger of BB&T and SunTrust. He took the CEO title at SunTrust in 2011 and is a North Carolina native and UNC graduate, according to the bank’s website.

The CEO switch isn’t a surprise — the two leaders agreed on the arrangemen­t while negotiatin­g the $66 billion merger.

But it’s one of several shifts to watch out for at the bank over the next several months as it closes branches, switches signs and plans for a full conversion to the Truist brand early next year. Here’s what consumers and investors can expect from the change in leadership and beyond:

CHANGES TO EXPECT AT TRUIST

The pre-planned transition of power seemed to be “a genuine gentleman’s agreement” between the two banking leaders when they struck the deal in 2019, said Christophe­r Marinac, director of research at Janney Montgomery Scott.

For that reason, consumers and investors can expect minimal changes, Marinac said. “My sense is that there’s very little major change from a strategic standpoint.”

Investors have a number of reasons to feel good about Truist’s direction, he said. The newly formed bank emerged from the pandemic relatively unscathed and its investment bank, Truist Securities, is benefiting from an industry-wide boon.

But the bank’s core conversion looms ahead, set for the first quarter of next year. SunTrust and BB&T still use different branches, different logos and even different product lines — that will change early next year, when it will all come under the Truist name.

The post-merger integratio­n is still the bank’s primary focus, said Kyle Sanders, an analyst at Edward Jones. It’s complicate­d enough that it might take up much of the company’s energy through 2022. That might not leave room for major strategy shifts, he said.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done at this point,” Sanders said. “I don’t expect any major shifts in strategy in the near term.”

OTHER CHALLENGES

But Rogers will have some big

shoes to step into, Sanders said.

King is a “very, very well respected” figure in the industry, Sanders said. The banker grew up in striking poverty to lead BB&T, then struck the deal that formed what is now the country’s sixthbigge­st bank.

Rogers will also have to build a new culture for the bank, Sanders said.

SunTrust-BB&T culture clashes may have been worked out in the C-suite by now, he said, but implementi­ng those changes across all levels of the firm is a different story.

“It takes time to establish a new identity and culture,” Sanders said. “I think some of those less tangible items will be a work in progress for several years to come.”

Truist also faces some stiff competitio­n on the digital front, Sanders said.

The combined bank is a bigger player than SunTrust or BB&T could be on their own. But Truist is still much smaller than banks like Bank of America or JP Morgan Chase that have more resources to build out digital banking and other technologi­es, Sanders said.

“Like every regional bank, their biggest challenge is... just being able to keep up from a technology standpoint,” he added.

Marinac thinks the bank’s success will depend in part on how quickly it can implement a competitiv­e digital strategy

“I think the key really is, how focused is the company on doing something new and daring?’’ he said. “I think a bank of it size has to be a leader. It can’t just be a follower.”

BEYOND THE MERGER

Both Sanders and Marinac are interested to see how Rogers approaches a post-merger growth strategy.

King was known for being a dealmaker, Sanders said. He’ll be watching to see if Rogers takes a similarly aggressive approach to acquisitio­ns.

Marinac hopes the bank opts for organic growth instead of a flurry of deals.

“I really think the company doesn’t need to do that (growth through acquisitio­ns),” he said. “If they’re able to just continue to execute on both new business and also getting the costs out from the integratio­n, they’re going to have good returns.”

WHAT IT MEANS FOR CHARLOTTE

No matter which approach the company takes, Truist’s growth would be good news for Charlotte, said Eric Lloyd, global head of private assets at Barings, an investment management firm based in uptown.

When the bank chose Charlotte for its new headquarte­rs, it was a “shot in the arm” for a city that had been fighting to keep its No. 2 spot on the ranking of U.S. financial centers, he said.

And Truist now looms so large in the city’s financial landscape that any growth at the firm would be a boost to Banktown, Lloyd said.

“I think it’ll just continue to help reinforce Charlotte as a banking center,” he said. “Truist is large enough that if they grow in any material amount, that amount of capital and employees and profits that is needed will absolutely be a positive for the city.”

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Bill Rogers

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