SunTrust Banks Inc. announced a wide-ranging management shuffle Tuesday that put two high-ranking regional executives in charge of a new consumer banking division and a revamped retail operation.
It also shifted oversight of the Atlanta company's investment bank to its president from its chief financial officer.
Market watchers speculated that the moves could represent everything from the grooming of a potential successor to Chairman and Chief Executive James M. Wells 3rd to the company's laying the groundwork for dealing with new competitive and regulatory pressures.
"Certainly on the consumer banking side, there have been several issues coming up" related to regulatory changes, said Adam Barkstrom, an analyst with Sterne, Agee & Leach. "I don't know if it has anything to do with that or if this is just more of a typical management transition issue."
Wells said in a press release that the change was part of an "ongoing evolution" of SunTrust's organizational structure to ensure that the $174.2 billion-asset lender is "taking maximum advantage of the current and post-recession growth opportunities."
SunTrust spokesman Mike McCoy declined to discuss the reasons behind the moves beyond what was stated in the press release.
Bert Ely, an independent banking consultant in Alexandria, Va., said the changes could be intended to test the mettle of potential successors to Wells, who is 63.
"If a company has a rising star it will shift some responsibilities to [him or her] to develop them further as a successor," Ely said.
SunTrust may also be streamlining operations as it tries to cross-sell more products in light of stiffer competition from Wells Fargo & Co. Most banks are also spending a lot of time refining their product lines to gear up for a regulatory crackdown on overdraft fees that will hurt income, Ely said.
If the changes are part of succession planning, a beneficiary appears to be SunTrust President William H. Rogers Jr., 52. Market watchers pegged Rogers as an heir apparent when he assumed the presidency from Wells in December 2008, though SunTrust denied that speculation at the time.
Rogers already oversaw most of the core banking operations, including retail, commercial, mortgage and wealth management. When the changes announced Tuesday take effect April 1, the head of the investment bank will report to Rogers, too. The investment bank chief previously answered to CFO Mark A. Chancy, 45.
Some of Rogers' top deputies were given new responsibilities in the reorganization.
C.T. Hill, 59, was named to run a new consumer banking arm that puts him in charge of its deposit and lending products. Hill used to run the Middle Atlantic division.
The company will have seven regional retail bank groups instead of three. The seven groups — and their 1,700 branches in 11 states and Washington, D.C. — will be led by Thomas G. Kuntz. Kuntz, 53, previously oversaw SunTrust's banking operations in Florida as well as its commercial business line.
In other changes: Amy Medendorp, 48, takes over the commercial business line from Kuntz. She was a co-head of the investment bank. The other co-head of the investment bank, Hugh S. Cummins 3rd, 47, is taking over full leadership of the group.
Hill, Kuntz, Cummins and Medendorp will report to Rogers.