Jim Smith plans to retire as Webster Financial’s CEO at yearend, ending a 30-year run leading the Waterbury, Conn., company.

John Ciulla (left), Webster Financial's president, and Jim Smith, Webster's chairman and CEO.
John Ciulla (left), who joined Webster in 2004 and has been president for two years, will succeed Jim Smith at yearend. Webster developed several niche lines under Smith, including health savings accounts. David Yellen

John Ciulla, president of the $26 billion-asset Webster, will succeed Smith as CEO on Dec. 31. Smith, 68, will remain chairman, although in a nonexecutive capacity.

“We’ve undertaken a transformation to position Webster for continued growth as a high-performing regional bank,” Smith said in a news release Tuesday.

Smith has been Webster’s CEO since 1987. It has become the largest bank in the $37 billion market for health savings accounts. Webster has also expanded commercial lending into the technology, media, telecom and health care industry segments under Smith’s watch.

Ciulla, 52, joined Webster in 2004 and has been president since October 2015. He previously worked for Bank of New York before its acquisition of Mellon Financial.

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Andy Peters

Andy Peters

Andy Peters writes about regional banks, consumer finance and debt collections for American Banker.