MUFG Union Bank names ex-Sterling CEO Seibly its president

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The banker credited with guiding Sterling Financial in Spokane, Wash., through the financial crisis is set to join MUFG Union Bank as head of its key business lines and leader of its digital transformation.

Greg Seibly, 56, has been hired as president and head of regional banking, effective March 2. He succeeds Timothy Wennes, who left the role in mid-2019 to join Santander Holding in Boston, where he is now president and CEO.

Since 2016, Seibly has been president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco. In his new role, he will be based in southern California and report to Steve Cummings, president and CEO of MUFG Americas, the U.S. parent of Union Bank. Both are units of the Tokyo-based banking giant Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group.

Greg Seibly has held leadership posts at U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America.
Greg Seibly has held leadership posts at U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

Seibly will oversee commercial banking, real estate industries, consumer banking, including digital banking unit PurePoint Financial, Intrepid Investment Bankers and wealth markets businesses. He will also lead the bank’s corporate social responsibility programs and be part of MUFG Americas’ executive committee.

“We were looking for a true leader who’s got broad experience and, in particular, someone who has the experience and scars from real transformations,” Cummings told American Banker this week. “We’re in a very competitive time and we need someone who can manage all facets of a turnaround.”

Seibly’s hiring comes at a crucial time for the $134.7 billion-asset lender, which has 3,800 employees and 340 branches, most of which are located on the West Coast.

Under Cummings, the company has made no secret about its ambition to become one of the nation's 10-largest banks — as of Sept. 30, it was the 21st largest commercial bank in the United States, according to the Federal Reserve — and it is making significant investments in technology in an effort to improve customer service and efficiency.

Without getting specific, Cummings said that Union Bank wants to be a "consolidator" in the industry.

To date, though, most of Union's growth has been organic. During the five-year period from September 2014 to September 2019, assets grew 22.6%, in part due to the addition of PurePoint Financial, Union’s digital deposit-gathering unit that was launched in 2017 to help fund loan growth.

PurePoint has 22 financial centers in Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Texas. It plans to close those locations on Feb. 20, but will continue to operate nationally as a digital bank serving customers online and by phone.

As for tech investments, Union Bank last month announced a collaboration with technology vendor FIS to co-develop and co-engineer a new core banking platform.

Officials told American Banker recently that the bank will hire than 100 technology staffers to co-develop the platform. Those employees will be based in Phoenix and sit next to FIS engineers.Cummings declined to say how much money the bank is spending on technology.

Cummings said that one of Union Bank’s strengths is that it operates in growing markets throughout the West. “The challenge for us,” he added, “is that it’s a market where all the big guys are focused and growing, and that means for a bank like us we need to be distinctive.”

Last year’s acquisition of M&A advisory firm Intrepid Investment Bankers in Los Angeles was one way Union Bank has aimed to differentiate itself, Cummings said. It is also leveraging its wholesale business to offer capital markets capabilities.

Seibly’s background includes leadership roles at U.S. Bank-California, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, but it is his five-year tenure as president and CEO at Sterling Financial that stands out, Cummings said.

Sterling experienced steep losses during the crisis, particularly in real estate loans, and it was Seibly, who joined the bank in 2007 and became CEO in 2009, who helped secure the $730 million in private equity it need to shore up capital.

Sterling was ultimately sold to Umpqua Holdings Corp. in Portland, Oregon in April 2014. Seibly stayed on for two years as president of consumer banking at Umpqua Bank, leading 340 offices and 2,900 employees.

“When you’re going through any kind of transformation of business, the hardest thing to change is the culture of moving into a new (direction) and Greg has that unique experience,” Cummings said. “That really appealed to us because that was a moment of crisis where there was no alternative and you learn the most in those kinds of environments.”

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