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Bank of America Corp. is seeking an "emergency" CEO in case Kenneth D. Lewis vacates his position as CEO before the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported today, leading some observers to speculate about AmEx President Alfred Kelly's opportunities at the nation's largest bank. Lewis on Sept. 30 said he would resign as BofA's CEO after 40 years at the company, the last eight as CEO. BofA's search for a long-term successor to Lewis could coincide nicely with Kelly's departure early next year from AmEx. Though he could not speculate on Kelly's next job, Gwenn Bézard, research director at Boston-based Aite Group LLC, tells CardLine financial-services companies are struggling to find executives with the right experience to lead increasingly complex businesses during these challenging economic times. "Whether it's Bank of America or Chase, these companies are having a tough time grooming future leaders because there are so few people who have the track record and diverse experience to lead conglomerates like these through such tough times," Bézard says. Organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to locate an executive with deep experience in all facets of leading a large financial-services organization, including the investment, corporate and retail sides of banking, he notes. "AmEx is essentially a monoline credit card issuer with little experience in retail banking, so it is difficult to say what Kelly's opportunities might be," Bézard says.

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