In a move that some analysts are calling a demotion for chief financial officer James W. Wert, Keycorp said Monday it will split his duties in two. Mr. Wert will become chief investment officer - responsible for investment management and corporate securities trading - while the bank conducts a nationwide search for a new CFO.
The change is part of the formation of a new five-man senior management group that will report to president Robert W. Gillespie starting on Sept. 1, when he adds the title of chief executive. He will succeed Victor J. Riley Jr., who will remain chairman.
"Jim's new role recognizes the significance of KeyCorp's growing investment management businesses and his skills and experience in balance sheet management," Mr. Gillespie said.
Keycorp has been building its investment management capabilities, mostly recently with the acquisition of New York-based Spears, Benzak, Salomon & Farrell.
Analysts contacted Monday were divided on the significance of Mr. Wert's job switch. "It's a major slap in the face for him," said one New York analyst who declined to be named. "Now we have a $67 billion-asset bank with no CFO - arguably not the best situation."
Advest Group's Frank J. Barkocy said the new job allows Mr. Wert to apply his skills in a "more focused" manner. "I would tend to look at it right now as him having more specified duties in the investment management area," Mr. Barkocy said.
Mr. Wert joined the former Society Corp. as vice president of investments in 1976 and became its chief financial officer in 1990. When Keycorp and Society merged last year, he became CFO of the new entity.
Other appointments to Keycorp's senior management group underlined the growing dominance of executives from the former Society Corp.
Reporting to Mr. Gillespie, the former Society top executive, will be five senior executive vice presidents: Mr. Wert; the as-yet-unnamed CFO; chief banking officer Gary R. Allen; chief operating officer Henry L. Meyer 3d; and Robert Noall, chief administrative officer, general counsel, and secretary. Only Mr. Allen came from the old Keycorp.
"Mr. Gillespie is starting to put his mark on the organization," said Lehman Brothers analyst Michael L. Mayo.