Financial Institutions (FISI) has ended its months-long search for a new chief executive with the promotion of an insider.

Martin Birmingham will become president and CEO of the Warsaw, N.Y., company and its banking unit, Five Star Bank, on March 1, the company said Wednesday. Birmingham joined Financial Institutions as executive vice president and commercial banking executive in 2005.

He succeeds John Benjamin, who had been interim CEO since August. Benjamin remains the chairman of Financial Institutions' board of directors.

The company has been without a permanent CEO since Peter Humphrey resigned in August, saying he wanted to pursue other interests. He had been with Financial Institutions and its predecessors for 35 years and was elected chairman in 2010.

Before joining the $2.7 billion-asset Financial Institutions, Birmingham was CEO of the National Bank of Geneva, and earlier was Bank of America's regional market president for Rochester. 

Birmingham "has a multifaceted understanding of the community banking environment, and a true appreciation for the core customer and employee values that make us unique," Benjamin said

In the news release. “With the intent of extending our track record of consistent growth, the board is enthusiastic about having Marty at the helm."

Last year Financial Institutions bought eight branches and roughly $376 million of deposits from First Niagara Financial Group (FNFG).

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