Bank of America Corp. is looking to improve communication with community groups by tapping an executive for the newly created position of consumer policy executive.
Andrew Plepler, who is the $2.3 trillion-asset Charlotte company's global corporate social responsibility executive, has taken on the expanded role. He will work with community groups and represent B of A on issues such as loan modifications, pricing and fees and the Community Reinvestment Act.
Plepler said the move "is a recognition that all these consumer issues are front and center, not only on our agenda but on the agendas for the communities we serve." He said his job is "not to just have a conversation but really engage in a dialogue" with consumer groups.
B of A has had mixed results with advocacy groups. Several consumer groups spoke favorably of its community involvement during its April annual meeting. However, a coalition led by the Service Employees International Union played a key role in stripping Kenneth D. Lewis, B of A's CEO, of his chairman's title at that meeting.
"It is my job to understand what the concerns are and to make sure groups have all the facts so we're not talking past each other," Plepler said.
As part of the changes, Plepler has stepped down as president of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. Kerry Sullivan, who was its national philanthropy executive, succeeded Plepler.
Separately, the office of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo told B of A in a letter that it is getting close to a stage where it is "making charging decisions" against company executives tied to the acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co. The letter also dismissed the notion its lawyers were to blame for decisions on disclosure tied to the Jan. 1 acquisition.
"Our investigation has found at least four instances during the fourth quarter … where Bank of America and its senior officers failed to disclose material nonpublic information to its shareholders," David Markowitz, who heads the office's investor protection bureau, wrote in a letter to B of A's legal counsel.