Zwiener Wachovia CFO

Wachovia Corp. this evening named David Zwiener chief financial officer, marking the first major hire by new chief executive Bob Steel.

The 54-year-old executive from the Carlyle private-equity firm will join the Charlotte bank Oct. 1.

Zwiener was a managing director at Carlyle focused on the financial services industry. He was previously president of property and casualty operations and CFO at The Hartford Financial Services Group insurance company.

The Observer reported Zwiener was a possible candidate on Sunday evening. He replaces Tom Wurtz, who said in July he was retiring when his successor was found. Like Steel, Zwiener is a Duke University graduate.

In naming a CFO, Steel, who replaced ousted CEO Ken Thompson in July, fills a key post that serves as the bank's top number-cruncher and a spokesperson to Wall Street analysts. The job is critical because Wachovia is looking to restore investor credibility after a series of missteps, including its disastrous 2006 purchase of mortgage specialist Golden West Financial Corp.

Hiring a CFO allows Steel to start putting his own stamp on the management team. He's also looking for a new chief risk officer but has said the management purge will not go beyond that.

“David's experience and many talents have enabled him to become a strong and proven leader in the financial services industry,” Steel said in a statement. “We believe he is exactly the right candidate to serve as CFO, with a diverse background that reflects sound business leadership, finance and operations experience and the ability to manage complex businesses for profitability. We are extremely pleased that an individual with David's expertise and talent, high level of integrity and commitment to teamwork is joining Wachovia. We have confidence in his ability to contribute greatly to Wachovia's future success.”

As CFO, Zwiener leads the bank's treasury management and planning, financial reporting, budgeting, investor relations, taxation, real estate operations and purchasing. In addition, Wachovia's head of operations and technology division will report to Zwiener.  

“I am honored to have the opportunity to join Wachovia as CFO,” Zwiener said in a statement. “The management team has an excellent plan in place to address the firm's challenges and has already made good progress. The core businesses are strong and continue to perform well.  Wachovia has enormous potential, and I am excited to be part of the team working to restore confidence and value for shareholders.”

Besides shaking up management, Steel has also announced plans to generate $5 billion in capital by cutting more than 10,000 jobs and by further slashing the company's dividend. He has said he's considering the sale of “non-core” assets but has stressed plans to keep the company independent.

Over the weekend, another top Carlyle executive, former US Bancorp vice chairman David Moffett, departed to become chief executive of Freddie Mac. Carlyle has also made key hires from the financial services industry lately, including former Wachovia treasurer James Burr.