As the saying goes, you don't know what you've got until it's gone. This sentiment seems to be a leading theme in the search to fill Ken Lewis's shoes. It's tough to part with a guy who was Banker of the Year, became the face of BofA, and successfully timed the absolute top of the housing market. In fact, KL's shadow still looms so large that few people outside of BAC are brave enough to throw their hat in the ring to claim the title of Ken Lewis's Successor. As a result, the phenomenon many thought would befall Citi following a Vikula ousting has paralyzed Bank of America's search: nobody qualified for the top job wants it.
As directors have explored a list of external candidates, some board members have been frustrated by what they view as a shortage of high-profile financial executives in the U.S. who are fit for the job, according to people familiar with the discussions.
This begs the question, what exactly qualifies as being fit to lead Bank of America.
At least one potential candidate was told the board wanted someone with a deep background in risk management. People involved in the process also are weighing whether to bring in someone with retail-banking experience, which would become even more important if the U.S. federal government moves to wind down or shrink companies seen as excessively risky to the economy, one person said.
Sounds reasonable. Assuming you fit that profile, who wouldn't want to take a shot at leading BofA out of the bailout abyss?
BlackRock Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Laurence D. Fink, who is being backed by some executives inside Bank of America, has had no conversations with the bank's board and recently told people close to him that he isn't interested in leaving the asset-management firm.
Several days after Mr. Lewis announced his retirement, Ajay Banga, who left Citigroup Inc. in June to become president and chief operating officer at MasterCard Inc., was contacted about the top job at Bank of America. But Mr. Banga isn't interested, according to someone familiar with his thinking.
So while BofA spokesman Scott Silvestri may be adamant about his claim that "people want to work here", it appears nobody wants to take ultimate responsibility for those that do.
Bank of America Bumps Into Hurdles in CEO Hunt [WSJ]