KeyCorp said A. Jay Meyerson, its consumer finance head and a big advocate of subprime lending, is leaving the company to pursue other interests.

James A. Fishell, president of the Cleveland-based banking company's corporate specialty finance unit, will succeed Mr. Meyerson.

Mr. Meyerson, 50, spent the past two years building the consumer finance company's menu of offerings through a series of acquisitions.

During that time he drew criticism from analysts for the full prices he paid for two subprime components, Auto Finance Group and Champion Mortgage. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Some said Mr. Meyerson's departure could signal a shift in KeyCorp's plans for lending to people with tarnished credit records.

It appears to "represent a conscious decision on the part of KeyCorp that 'Whoops, maybe we should start de-emphasizing this business now,'" said Nancy Bush, an analyst with Brown Brothers Harriman, New York.

But a company spokesman insisted that was not the case, and that consumer finance is still a big part of KeyCorp's business strategy. The company is going ahead with its plans to roll out a national home equity unit, using Champion Mortgage as a template, he said.

Others said the move reflected a more global shift in the bank's strategy. "Key had been in the building mode for several years, and he was a major player in that process," said Michael Mayo, analyst with CS First Boston, New York. "Now they're in more of an optimization mode," he said.

Mr. Meyerson's "parting from Key was an amicable one," said the company spokesman. "He established this business and would like a new challenge."

Mr. Meyerson has not taken a position with another company, the spokesman added.

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.