Moynihan To Head Bank Of America Jan. 1 Bank of America, the nation's largest bank, has a new CEO. Board members chose Brian Moynihan, 50, who is the bank's consumer and small business head. Moynihan will take over from Ken Lewis on January 1.

Moynihan To Head Bank Of America Jan. 1

Moynihan To Head Bank Of America Jan. 1

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Bank of America, the nation's largest bank, has a new CEO. Board members chose Brian Moynihan, 50, who is the bank's consumer and small business head. Moynihan will take over from Ken Lewis on January 1.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

NPR's business news starts with a new boss at Bank of America.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: The nation's largest bank has finally found a CEO to replace its current chief, Ken Lewis. He's stepping down at the end of this year.

Bank of America interviewed numerous banking executives from across the industry, then went with an insider. His name is Brian Moynihan. He's 50 years old and he's been the head of the consumer and business banking division.

From member station WBUR in Boston, Curt Nickisch has this profile.

CURT NICKISCH: Brian Moynihan did not set out to be a banker. He got a law degree at Notre Dame and started his career at a Rhode Island law firm.

Mr. JIM SKEFFINGTON (Partner, Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP): Brian was a fellow who gave no quarter.

NICKISCH: Jim Skeffington still works at that firm. He remembers Moynihan as the tireless young associate who worked hard and played hard too.

Mr. SKEFFINGTON: While he practiced law, he also played rugby on the side and sometimes he'd come into the office in the morning and he'd have a black eye or a cut over his eye or a he'd have a wounded arm or sometimes, and it never bothered him.

NICKISCH: What made the biggest mark, Skeffington says, was Moynihan's analytical mind. It's something that a client noticed too. The law firm did work for Fleet Financial and the bank hired Moynihan away. It was at that New England bank that Moynihan made a name for himself by helping the company grow rapidly through mergers and industry innovations.

When Bank of America bought Fleet Boston in 2004, Moynihan climbed quickly through the Charlotte institution's ranks. Over the years, he headed some of the premiere operations for Bank of America.

Stefan Selig worked for him when Moynihan ran the company's investment business in New York.

Mr. STEFAN SELIG (Bank of America): You know, a lot of people obviously work in their comfort zone. I think Brian is the exact opposite, which is I think he relishes the opportunity to take on new challenges and be more expansive.

NICKISCH: Moynihan helped Bank of America expand into the national giant it is today. But that expansion may have put the corporation in some danger. The financial crisis has hurt Bank of America and its pricey purchase of investment bank Merrill Lynch has been very controversial.

John Carusone runs the Bank Analysis Center and says Moynihan will be taking over amid intense shareholder and regulator scrutiny.

Mr. JOHN CARUSONE (President, Bank Analysis Center): He's been around the company for a long enough time so that he can justifiably take over some of the company's accomplishments, and also, you know, has to acknowledge responsibility for some of the company's overreaching in some of their acquisitions and the prices paid for them. His aggressiveness, you know, cuts both ways.

NICKISCH: Moynihan will apparently rely on more than aggressiveness to steer the bank out of the recession. Speaking to business school students last month, he said he's been learning to manage by talking less and listening more.

Mr. BRIAN MOYNIHAN (Bank of America): I'm one of eight kids and you spoke fast and you spoke a lot, because the next person was going to come in and speak over top of you. And so to learn how to be that patient is taking a lot of work.

NICKISCH: Moynihan has now emerged from the scrum to become the next CEO of Bank of America. He has the tough task of leading the nation's largest bank out of some of its worst days.

For NPR News, I'm Curt Nickisch in Boston.

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