Northern Trust Corp. took a big step toward bolstering its investment management business Wednesday by naming former Zurich Kemper Investments Inc. chief executive Stephen B. Timbers to head a newly created business line.
Barry G. Hastings, president and chief operating officer for Northern Trust, said the company has lofty goals of building its asset management business. The $25.3 billion-asset banking company has been known primarily for its corporate and personal trust businesses, but Mr. Hastings said it also wants to be known as a leading money manager.
"My goal is I want us to be recognized as the best bank money manager in the United States," Mr. Hastings said.
Mr. Timbers will start Feb. 23 as president of global investments for Chicago-based Northern Trust, which has $200 billion of assets under management.
Mr. Timbers, 53, had been president, CEO, and chief investment officer for Zurich Kemper, a Chicago-based investment management company with $90 billion of assets under management. A January reorganization, because of Zurich Group's acquisition of Scudder, Stevens & Clark, left him out of a job.
In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Timbers said he considered other offers besides the one from Northern Trust, but none of them would have given him the chance to work with as large an asset base.
"To be successful in this business, size is important," he said.
Mr. Timbers will become the eighth member of Northern Trust's senior management team and will be on equal footing with two other executives who underwent title changes Wednesday. Sheila Penrose was named president of corporate and institutional services and Mark Stevens was named president of personal financial services. The two executives had been executive vice presidents. The title changes do not represent promotions for the two executives, Northern Trust said, but will mean Mr. Timbers will oversee some of the business for which they have been responsible.
It is rare for Northern Trust to bring in a senior-level executive from outside. The company has historically groomed people from within for top spots, but one observer said there was no one in the upper tier who had management talent as well as a background in investments.
"It's appropriate to bring someone to the team who is steeped in an investment background," said David Horn, chairman of consulting group Graystone Partners in Chicago.
"This takes us into a whole different scheme of things as to how we look at the investment business," Mr. Hastings said.