First Horizon National Corp. Chief Executive Bryan Jordan got a chance Thursday to clear the air: he's not the former two-sport star of (almost) the same name.
"There are still a few people who make that connection," Jordan joked while discussing the Memphis bank's announcement that Jordan (the banker) will add the title of chairman on Jan. 1. "I always liked him … I'm a little older than the other Brian Jordan," he said of the ex-baseball slugger and football safety.
Age played a part in Thursday's announcement, as the current First Horizon chairman, Mike Rose, is approaching the bank's mandatory retirement age of 70 and has to step aside.
Jordan, 49, who has been CEO for three years, is not promising any major changes after the consolidation of power. He said he has a good relationship with the board, and together they have been working through a steady turnaround plan.
"We've made great progress on our key initiatives," he said in an interview. "Our company is executing very well."
Corporate governance experts generally favor that the CEO and chairman roles be placed in separate hands, but the board has a "strong lead outside director" in Brad Martin, a former CEO of Saks Inc. to guard against any risk of loss of independence by the directors, Jordan said.
One of First Horizon's biggest moves recently was the institution of fees on debit card use at its First Tennessee Bank unit. Starting Saturday, it will charge 4 cents on PIN debit transactions and 14 cents on signature debit transactions. The bank will cap the fees it charges each customer at $3 per month, and certain accounts are excluded.
First Horizon had to do something to offset the $17 million to $20 million reduction in debit fees expected each year as a result of the Durbin rule, Jordan said.
The move has not gotten as much attention as the $5 flat fee that its larger rival, Bank of America Corp., plans to impose next year. First Horizon felt that a fee tied to how often a customer uses the card, plus the $3 cap, would be perceived as fairer and less onerous, Jordan said.
He "not ruling in or out" any other fees, he says.
Mortgage woes and overexpansion hurt First Horzon, but it has been cleaning up its troubled loans, exiting insurance and other businesses and focusing on regional banking and capital markets. It reported Monday a third-quarter profit of $36.1 million, or 14 cents per share. That was a 17% increase from a year earlier but a couple cents short of analysts' expectations.
Jordan blamed higher-than-expected mortgage repurchase costs and other factors. But he emphasized First Horizon's deposit growth, strong capital markets performance and other improvements.
It wants to guard its capital, but, in the long run, with a gradual consolidation of the industry expected, the company has positioned itself to grow by acquisition, Jordan said.
In the short run, though, he will have an eye on baseball again, given that the St. Louis Cardinals are in the World Series. Not only is Memphis the hometown of the team's Triple-A Redbirds, but it's one of the former teams of … Brian Jordan.