Fulton Financial Corp. has promoted an insider to replace R. Scott Smith Jr., who announced plans to retire from the Lancaster, Pa., company at the end of this year.

The $16.4 billion-asset company said Tuesday that its E. Philip Wenger, its president and chief operating officer, will succeed Smith as chairman, president and CEO on Jan. 1, 2013. Smith will remain on Fulton's board.

Smith joined Fulton Bank in 1978 as director of human resources. He went on to fill a variety of positions at the bank, becoming its chairman, president and CEO in 1998. Three years later, the company tapped Smith to become its president, chief operating officer and a director; he would take over the top post in 2006.

Smith also serves on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

"It has been a real privilege to have spent most of my banking career with Fulton," Smith said in a press release. "I have always believed the success of any company is dependent on the employees at all levels. Our strategy has been that long-term, loyal employees create long-term, loyal customers, who create long-term, loyal shareholders. I have strived to create a company culture where that strategy is pervasive."

Wenger joined Fulton Bank in 1979 and worked in corporate lending before being promoted to executive vice president of corporate banking in 1996. In 2003, he became the bank's president and COO. Three years later, he was promoted to chairman and CEO of Fulton Bank. He became president and COO of the holding company in 2008.

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