Ronald Robbins has resigned as president of Liberty Financial Bank Group after a tumultuous strut in which he snared a plum contract with Chemical Banking Corp., only to lose it several months later.
Mr. Robbins left Monday after two and a half years with Liberty, the investment sales ann of Liberty Financial Companies, Boston.
The parent company named its own executive vice president, Porter P. Morgan, as acting president of the bank group.
Liberty has not yet decided whether Mr. Morgan will be appointed on a permanent basis, a spokesman said. But whatever the outcome, Mr. Morgan is expected to stay involved with the bank group, the spokesman added.
Liberty was one of the first companies to get into the business of helping banks run investment sales programs. Today, it is one of the top players in the field. The company last year sold $1.6 billion of mutual funds and annuities through banks.
Mr. Robbins helped build Liberty into an investment products powerhouse, but the company appeared to stumble this year, prompting rumors that Mr. Robbins' days them were numbered.
The most visible setback was Chemical's decision to back out of a groundbreaking joint venture with Liberty. The venture, which Mr. Robbins and others had trumpeted as a prototype for the next generation of bank sales efforts, unraveled when Chemical decided to operate the program itself.
Around the same time, Alan Blank, who was also closely involved in the Chemical deal, departed as vice chairman of the bank group.
Separately, Liberty has been buffeted this year by rocky market conditions and the departures of several staff members. And several clients are known to be considering dropping Liberty to bring their programs in-house, a move frequently made by banks as their sales programs mature.
Reached at his home this week, Mr. Robbins said the decision to leave had been his own. "I resigned to pursue other opportunities," he said.
Mr. Robbins said his plans involve the investment products industry but said it was too soon to elaborate.
Some industry observers maintained that the tumult had given the banking business a bad taste for the parent company and that plans were underway to pull out of that channel.
But the naming of Mr. Morgan to the president's spot is meant to dispel any such talk, executives at Liberty said.
Mr. Morgan, who has spent the last three years with the parent company after nearly three decades in the securities and marketing fields, reports directly to Liberty Financial Companies president Kenneth R. Leibler.
That kind of executive backing is "very positive," said Geoffrey H. Bobroff, president of Bobroff Consulting, East Greenwich, R.I. Liberty, he said, is expressing a "renewed commitment" to the financial institutions channel.
Mr. Morgan said Liberty is working to expand its client roster, possibly through acquisitions of other investment product marketing firms.
"We're in this business long term," Mr. Morgan said.