Bank of New York Mellon has hired former Visa CEO Charles Scharf to replace Gerald Hassell, almost three years after an activist investor group pushed for changes in the company’s strategy.

Scharf, 52, joined the $338 billion-asset BNY Mellon on Monday, the company said in a news release. He became CEO immediately and will succeed Hassell, 65, as chairman on Jan. 1.

Game plan
“We will continue to put our clients first, remain a strong and trusted partner, and continue on our journey of defining ourselves as the premier technology platform our clients turn to for our capabilities, advice and leadership,” said BNY Mellon CEO Charles Scharf.

The change at the top, which had not been telegraphed ahead of time, “is the culmination of the board of directors' robust and long-term succession planning process,” Hassell said in the release.

Scharf led Visa from 2012 through December. He left citing difficulties in continuing to perform his job at Visa's headquarters in San Francisco while balancing family responsibilities on the East Coast. Before joining Visa, Scharf was managing director at One Equity Partners, the private investment arm of JPMorgan Chase.

“We will continue to put our clients first, remain a strong and trusted partner, and continue on our journey of defining ourselves as the premier technology platform our clients turn to for our capabilities, advice and leadership,” Scharf said in the release.

In 2014 the investment fund Trian Partners had called for BNY Mellon to spin off its asset management business. The next year, Hassell received a vote of confidence from Trian after he presented a revised strategic plan.

Hassell “refreshed the company’s strategy,” Joseph Echevarria, BNY Mellon’s lead independent director, said in the release. “Gerald restructured the management team, improved talent in key positions, accelerated cultural change and increased employee engagement.”

Hassell has been CEO of BNY Mellon since 2011. He was president of Bank of New York from 1998 to 2007, when it merged with Mellon Financial, and kept the president's title at the combined company until 2012.

Andy Peters

Andy Peters

Andy Peters writes about regional banks, consumer finance and debt collections for American Banker.