A year ago American Banker named 10 bankers to watch in 2013, and in most cases we made good choices.

Just about all of them made headlines, took bold steps or had successful years — though sometimes not for the reasons we anticipated.

(For full Countdown 2014 coverage, click here.)

Some bought other banks, rebranded or repositioned their companies for the future as we anticipated. Others stepped down from their jobs, or made headlines by failing to do enough in the eyes of critics. The biggest accomplishment for still others was to stay under the radar and do the hard, everyday work that needed to be done.

Let this look back serve as a reminder for those who think they have their plans for 2014 all sewn up.

Michael Corbat, Citigroup
The Citigroup (NYSE: C) chief executive avoided making waves, and let's be clear: given the coverage JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and its CEO, Jamie Dimon, received this year, and the darts Citi took for several years, a low profile should be viewed as an accomplishment.

Corbat shuffled some senior executives without completely overhauling management. He also slightly accelerated Citi's ongoing efforts to shed extraneous operations, exit unprofitable markets and concentrate on cosmopolitan ones. As a result, shareholders — and Citi Chairman Michael O'Neill — seem much happier with Corbat than they were with his predecessor, Vikram Pandit.

"Nearly all prior issues that kept us on the sidelines have been addressed," Andrew Marquardt, an analyst at Evercore wrote in a mid-December note to clients advising them to considering buying Citi shares. "We have an upward bias to the U.S. economic recovery which could fuel better results."

Ellen Alemany, RBC Citizens Financial Group, and Michael Tierney, Flagstar Bancorp
Alemany and Tierney made headlines by leaving their CEO posts this year.

Tierney stepped down at Flagstar (FBC) in May, returning to his prior position as the Troy, Mich., company's head of personal financial services. It was a tough year for Flagstar, which has been looking to move beyond legacy mortgage issues.

Flagstar agreed to pay nearly $200 million to settle legal claims, and it agreed earlier this month to sell nearly $41 billion of mortgage-servicing rights. But the company remained profitable throughout the year.

Alemany, who retired in October, later received a lifetime achievement award at American Banker's gala celebrating the most powerful women in banking and finance. "We must continue to engage with our regulators" on how the Dodd-Frank Act is applied, she told attendees at the gala. "With the new rules for guidance, we can create an environment in which strong banks spur robust economic growth and are safe enough to do so without causing disruption."

Peyton Patterson, Bankwell Financial
Patterson, another one of American Banker's most powerful female bankers, started making her mark in 2013 at a job she took the previous year.

Patterson has led a transformation at the former BNC Financial Group in New Canaan, Conn. Under her leadership, the company renamed itself Bankwell Financial (BWFC), announced a $5 million acquisition and raised nearly $13 million to fuel more growth. Bankwell also created operations to focus on wealth management and investment services.

"There's no shortage of things to do," Patterson told American Banker in June. "We have a clear organic growth map that also layers in acquisitions that are in the right markets and the right price."

Jay Hooley, State Street
Hooley had a rather quiet year at State Street (STT), though he was able to ward off rumored efforts by several large investors to remove him as the Boston company's chief executive. By the fall, he was among the bank CEOs meeting with President Obama as Washington deadlocked over the budget and raising the debt ceiling.

Masashi Oka, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ
Oka, chief executive for the Americas for Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, helped raise the stature of his company this year.

In July, the company tapped Oka to chair an executive committee tasked with overseeing his operations and the $105 billion-asset Union Bank in San Francisco after the Japanese parent company brought both units under one roof.

Kevin Cummings, Investors Bancorp
Acquisitions also played a big role for Kevin Cummings at Investors Bancorp (ISBC) in Short Hills, N.J., though regulatory snags with one of those deals might have put a kink in his strategy for 2013.

Cummings had planned on a second-step conversion for Investors but the $15.5 billion-asset company had to wrap up two acquisitions first. Its purchase of Roma Financial, originally expected to close in the second quarter, endured numerous hiccups including shareholder litigation, a check-kiting scandal at Roma and protests by an activist group over lending practices to minorities.

Investors, which also has a pending deal for Gateway Community Financial, finally received Fed approval to buy Roma, closing the transaction in December.

Cummings finally was in a position to disclose plans for a second-step conversion in late December, though it now seems as though the move, which could bring in $1.5 billion in capital, will take place in 2014.

Kessel Stelling, Synovus Financial
Synovus (SNV), led by Stelling, exited the Troubled Asset Relief Program in July and continued to show it had gotten on the good side of regulators this year. The Columbus, Ga., company was freed in May by its state regulator from a 2010 memorandum of understanding. Synovus also bought a failed bank in its home state and agreed to sell its branches in western Tennessee.

Dan Rollins, BancorpSouth
There were no bank deals for Rollins, who left the acquisition-minded Prosperity Bancshares (PB) in Texas to become the CEO of BancorpSouth (BXS) in Tupelo, Miss. Rollins, known as a proponent of cost controls, spent much of 2013 scouting out efficiencies and fielding calls from analysts to cut more expenses.

"If you're looking for some magic pixie dust that is going to [improve efficiency] quickly, I don't think that is the way it works," Rollins told analysts during a conference call in October.

Tim Laney, National Bank Holdings
Those who expected Laney and National Bank Holdings (NBHC) in Greenwood Village, Colo., to go on an acquisition spree in 2013 were severely disappointed.

Laney instead adhered to the conservative vision he shared in an American Banker interview last year. "We're often comparing ourselves to banks that have been around for 75 years," he said. "We are quickly growing up."

That meant capital management without flashy deals. The $5.2 billion-asset company announced plans to close 36 branches in California, and it bought back more than 10% of its outstanding stock from institutional investors. In November, the company received regulatory approval to accept a $313 million dividend from its bank, raising speculation that 2014 could be the year where Laney pursues more acquisitions.

We'll resist the temptation of putting Laney on our list for 2014, but it does go to show that all of the executives ultimately have to be evaluated over track records of more than a single year.

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