Richard D. Field, the head of retail banking at Bank of New York Co., will retire May 14.
Mr. Field, 56, has been senior executive vice president responsible for retail banking and marketing since 1988.
Newton P.S. Merrill, 57, a senior executive vice president in charge of trust and private banking, will become interim head of retail banking until a permanent replacement is named, a bank spokesman said.
Observers, who declined to speak on the record, said Mr. Field was retiring after more than two decades in banking to pursue a second career, perhaps in consulting.
Mr. Field, who was not available for comment Tuesday afternoon, has maintained a low profile over the years, though he presided over major events in the bank's history.
He was at the helm for the consolidation of 100 branches acquired during Bank of New York's 1988 hostile takeover of Irving Bank Corp. And he oversaw the integration of 62 offices in the friendly acquisition of branches from Barclays Bank PLC in 1992.
By the end of 1996, Bank of New York had grown to 375 branches in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
Mr. Field also oversaw growth in the bank's middle-market lending and credit card units, analysts said. But the banking company's efforts to build its securities processing business may have encouraged Mr. Field to retire early, some observers said.
The securities processing unit-ranked second to the one at Boston-based State Street Corp.-has grown 82% since 1994. It had yearend fee revenue of $655 million. Analysts said securities processing has eclipsed other areas of the bank.
Mr. Field joined the bank in 1978 as a vice president in charge of retail branches. Before that, he was at Chase Manhattan Bank and Citibank. He is a board member of MasterCard International.