Great Western Financial Corp. hired four former First Interstate Bancorp executives to fill key management positions in its retail banking division.

The placements follow Great Western's April 15 hiring of First Interstate's former California retail chief, and constitute a notable migration of executive talent to the thrift, which is striving to become more like a retail bank.

"We have capitalized on the unusual opportunity presented by the takeover of First Interstate," said executive vice president Jaynie M. Studenmund, 41, the former First Interstate retail chief who now runs Great Western's branch system. She will be the new hires' boss. (San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. acquired Los Angeles-based First Interstate on April 1.)

The four new hires, all of whom will hold the title of senior vice president, had worked closely with Ms. Studenmund before the merger. But, like her, each of them turned down other job opportunities in order to regroup at $43.8 billion-asset Great Western, based in the Los Angeles suburb of Chatsworth.

The recruits include Dan Morefield, 37, formerly a First Interstate small-business lending executive, who is credited with building its annual loan volume from $100 million to $1 billion over the last four years.

He is taking over a Great Western small-business lending unit that is in its infancy, but slated for growth. Although Great Western has 96,000 business checking accounts, the only small-business loan the thrift sells is overdraft protection. Great Western said it plans to begin offering broader small-business loan and deposit products this summer.

Also recruited was Dennis Shirley, 37, formerly First Interstate's advertising and direct marketing director. He is replacing former marketing director Michael Aarons, who left Great Western as a result of the reorganization. One of Mr. Shirley's top priorities will be improving Great Western's data base marketing capabilities, Ms. Studenmund said.

The other hires are former First Interstate retail planning manager John Stephan, who will hold a similar position at Great Western, and Southern California-area manager Tom Dobyns.

Great Western also named three current employees senior vice president- area managers. They also will report to Ms. Studenmund.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.