July 23, 2015 / 9:40 PM / in 2 years

BofA CFO's exit tied to desire for top job: sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The surprise departure of Bruce Thompson as finance chief of Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) reflected his desire to lead a company, an outcome that seemed unlikely to happen soon if he stayed, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

A Bank of America sign is shown on a building in downtown Los Angeles, California January 15, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The bank announced late Wednesday that Thompson, 51, was stepping down after more than five-and-a-half years as chief financial officer, but gave no explanation for the move.

Thompson’s interest in heading a company was at least one reason for his leaving, the sources said: his ambitions ranged beyond managing cost cutting campaigns and fixing a big bank’s books.

Thompson, 51, believed he would have a long wait to be CEO of Bank of America, given that CEO Brian Moynihan is just 55, one of the two sources said. The two sources said they spoke to Thompson. Thompson did not return a call seeking comment.

At other banks, similar stories have played out. JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (JPM.N) Jamie Dimon has headed the bank since the end of 2005, and a series of senior executives that were once seen as successors, ranging from Michael Cavanagh to Jes Staley, have left the bank.

Earlier this year Morgan Stanley’s (MS.N) CFO Ruth Porat, who had been viewed as a candidate for the top job at the bank, instead became finance chief at Google Inc (GOOGL.O).

The Wall Street Journal reported that Thompson’s once close ties with Moynihan had frayed in recent months.

Bank of America has had difficulty with stress tests since they were introduced in 2009. Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve said the bank “exhibited deficiencies in its capital planning process.” It was unclear whether those struggles played a role in Thompson’s departure.

PULLED AWAY

Prior to becoming Bank of America CFO in 2009, Thompson served stints as chief risk officer and head of stock and bond underwriting, among other positions. He was viewed by analysts as a highly competent executive and several of them saw his departure as a negative for the bank.

“(Thompson) was viewed as a strong CFO, a critical member of the management team, and was also regarded as a key face of the company. Losing him is a disappointment,” wrote Morgan Stanley analyst Betsy Graseck, who still retained an overweight rating on Bank of America shares. They fell 1.2 percent to $18.23 on Thursday.

After having paid more than $70 billion to settle legal and regulatory probes and lawsuits stemming from the financial crisis, Bank of America has been struggling to increase revenue.

Thompson’s departure was one of several management changes announced by Moynihan in the Wednesday memo. The bank’s new CFO is Paul Donofrio, who most recently was CFO of the consumer and global wealth management businesses.

David Darnell, who ran the wealth and investment management unit, and previously was a co-chief operating officer, will retire and be replaced by Terry Laughlin, who had held various senior roles at the bank.

Laughlin will now also be responsible for overseeing Bank of America’s critical stress test submission to regulators along with Andrea Smith, a longtime human resources executive who is taking on a new role as Chief Administrative Officer.

Also taking on added responsibilities is Sheri Bronstein, who will take over Smith’s human resources duties.

Reporting by Dan Freed; Editing by Christian Plumb

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