Two CEOs credited with building once-local community banks into regional powerhouses abruptly resigned in the same week in November.
On Nov. 26, Berkshire Hills Bancorp in Boston announced that its longtime CEO, Michael Daly, had resigned, effective immediately.
A day later, the $7.4 billion-asset Opus Bank in Irvine, Calif., said that it is parting ways with its founder and CEO
, Stephen Gordon.
Daly (pictured, left) took over as Berkshire Hills’ CEO in 2002, when it had just over $1 billion of assets. Sixteen years and nine acquisitions later, Berkshire Hills has more than $12 billion of assets and nearly 120 branches in six states. Daly further raised the company’s profile earlier this year when he relocated the holding company’s corporate headquarters from Pittsfield, Mass., to Boston.
Berkshire Hills did not disclose why Daly, 56, resigned so suddenly, but following the announcement, Piper Jaffray analysts revealed in a research note that they had received a letter in October from anonymous Berkshire employees claiming that the workplace culture under Daly was “toxic.” Anonymous reviews on Glassdoor.com said that turnover was high because Berkshire Hills’ management was “demanding” and “demeaning” and several employees commented that senior executives cared only about acquisitions and did little to foster an employee-friendly culture.
Richard Marotta, who was president of Berkshire Hills’ bank unit, Berkshire Bank, has succeeded Daly.
Like Daly, Gordon (pictured, right) had been the public face of his bank for many years. In 2010, he led a $460 million recapitalization of Bay Cities National Bank, renamed it Opus and quickly set about building the tiny community bank into West Coast force through acquisitions and expansion into new business lines, such as technology and health care lending.
The strategy worked well for many years, but the aggressive growth eventually caught up to the bank as loans began to sour. Opus lost money in the second half of 2018, and though it has returned to profitability, its performance has been uneven at best.
In a press release announcing Gordon’s departure, Opus director Mark Schaffer said that Opus needs a new leader who “will help restore growth momentum to the bank.”
Paul Greig, Opus' chairman, was named interim CEO. Greig, who will continue leading Opus’ board, was chairman, president and CEO at FirstMerit in Akron, Ohio, when it sold to Huntington Bancshares.
Opus has hired the executive search firm Korn Ferry to help it find a new CEO.