Senior EVP, Private Client Group and Regional Banking Director and Chair of Michigan, Huntington Bancshares

Even before it closed its acquisition of FirstMerit, Huntington Bancshares made sure it locked up FirstMerit Vice Chairman and Michigan market Chief Executive Sandy Pierce.

Though the deal didn't close until mid-August, Huntington announced in June that Pierce — the face of FirstMerit in Michigan since 2013 and one of the state's most visible business leaders — would head up its operations in the Wolverine State. The $100 billion-asset Huntington also appointed Pierce to lead two new companywide functions: public affairs and corporate communications and regional marketing.

"Sandy is a well-known regional banking leader with a tremendous drive for results," Huntington Chairman and Chief Executive Stephen Steinour explained in announcing her appointments in June. "I am looking forward to her joining our executive team."

Apart from running the Michigan operations at FirstMerit, Pierce had direct oversight over a wide range of business lines across FirstMerit's five-state footprint, including retail branches, mortgage lending, wealth management and middle-market commercial banking.

One of her key decisions last year was to improve efficiency in mortgage lending by partnering with Quicken Loans. After Quicken started handling underwriting and processing for 70% of FirstMerit's loans in five states, FirstMerit was able to reduce the average time for closing loans by more than two weeks and, importantly, increase mortgage volume by 22% year over year.

In Pierce, Huntington is gaining not just a skilled banker but also a well-connected one. Pierce chairs the Henry Ford Health Center and is a former chair of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Detroit Financial Advisory Board, an agency created to oversee the city's finances in the wake of its bankruptcy.

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