NEW YORK — Independence Community Bank Corp. said Thursday that it has created a search committee to find a successor for president and chief executive officer Charles J. Hamm, who is nearing retirement age.

The $6.7 billion-asset company said the decision to begin an executive search was made in order “to provide a smooth transition in light of Mr. Hamm’s eventual retirement” and to further strengthen the company’s management team. Mr. Hamm was appointed president in 1985.

Independence expects to complete the search early next year.

“At some point it’s the normal course of events. I’m 63-and-a-half,” said Mr. Hamm, who is to remain chairman.

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