Dietz Tackles Challenges At American Savings Bank

W. Ronald Dietz had no intention of making banking a carrer when he left Stanford University with his MBA, but now he's working for his third financial services institution.

"Life is what you're planning for the future, and being a banker is all about me," said the 48-year-old Mr. Dietz.

Last month, Mr. Dietz became president, chief executive officer, and a director of American Savings Bank, a $3.9 billion-asset thrift in White Plains, N.Y.

He succeeds William G. Lillis, who announced in December that he would retire on Oct. 31. Mr. Lillis stepped down as a director but will remain with the thrift until his retirement.

Mr. Dietz hopes to turn things around at American Savings Bank. "It's a bank that needs to find a safe harbor in a financial sense," he said in an interview.

Mr. Dietz had been chief executive officer of CorEast Savings Bank, Richmond, Va., for the past two years. He was appointed as regulators acted to return the troubled institution to regulatory compliance.

"We achieved a significant turnaround in operations and made considerable headway in attacking the bank's problems," said Mr. Dietz, describing his time at CorEast. "But ultimately, the bank was forced into conservatorship by the extent of preexisting portfolio problems."

His first priorities at American Savings are to achieve compliance with regulatory capital requirements, reduce the bank's problem-as-set portfolio, and improve the profitability and franchise value of the thrift's 39-branch retail network.

Improving the Thrift's |Muscle Tone'

"The transition is going very smoothly, and we now have our capital requirements in place," Mr. Dietz said. "I am currently addressing all the important changes at the bank and working on improving the muscle tone of our credit management and bringing in new people."

Already on the job a month, Mr. Dietz has restructured the credit management function by establishing a real estate portfolio/ commercial banking division, which will deal with loan workouts. The consumer banking area will focus on the credit policy function. The department also will act to catch problems in the early stages, in addition to dealing with credit policy and procedures. A real estate division will operate separately.

He's setting things in motion at American Savings, meeting with employees and managers on both the commercial and retail sides, and working toward increasing communications throughout the bank.

Focus Shifts to Customers

"I will also increase my trips to the branches now that our capital plan is in place," Mr. Dietz said. "We intend to expand our customer relationships through improved product delivery and better sales and merchandising in the neighborhood markets that we serve."

Mr. Dietz is married and the father of a 3 1/2-year-old boy. He and his wife play tennis and go skiing.

Besides his MBA from Stanford, Mr. Dietz has an undergraduate degree from the University of Washington in Seattle. He began his banking career with Citicorp, working in numerous executive capacities.

In addition to his corporate career in banking, Mr. Dietz was president of his own firm, Charter Associates Ltd., a management consulting firm, from 1985 to 1989. "Consulting was a good experience, but I am a manager."

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