Banking

CEO: SunTrust plans to continue growth in Charlotte

Bill Rogers, C.E.O. of SunTrust Bank.
Bill Rogers, C.E.O. of SunTrust Bank. ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

Fresh off the opening of a new regional headquarters building in SouthPark, Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks plans to continue its growth in Charlotte, CEO Bill Rogers said in an interview Tuesday.

“We want to continue to invest in this market,” Rogers said during a Charlotte visit that included meetings with employees, customers and community leaders.

The bank now has about 500 employees in the Charlotte area, and Rogers expects that number to increase over time. About 200 of those employees, in businesses ranging from wealth management to bond trading, work in the new five-story headquarters building off Sharon Road.

“It’s a great symbol,” said Rogers, 57, who joined a SunTrust predecessor in 1980 and became CEO in 2011. “It’s the first post-crisis, large investment made in SouthPark, and we really love being part of that.”

SunTrust first entered North Carolina in 2004 when it acquired Memphis, Tenn.-based National Commerce Financial, parent of Central Carolina Bank. That deal came after the bank was unsuccessful in breaking up Charlotte-based First Union’s 2001 bid to buy Winston-Salem-based Wachovia.

“I don’t spend a lot of time looking in the rear-view mirror,” Rogers said of the thwarted Wachovia deal. “I want to keep my eyes focused on the windshield and the opportunities that sit in front of us.”

Later, the combined Wachovia nearly failed during the financial crisis before being bought in 2008 by San Francisco-based Wells Fargo.

“Wachovia was a great competitor,” said Rogers, who grew up in Durham and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UNC-Chapel Hill. “And Wells Fargo is a great competitor. And SunTrust is an incredibly good competitor.”

SunTrust, the 13th-biggest U.S. bank by assets, has long been considered a possible acquisition target for a rival interested in entering the Southeast, but Rogers said the bank is focused on building its client base and improving shareholder value.

“Our goal is to control our destiny and make our company great,” he said.

As far as making acquisitions of its own, Rogers said the best investments the company can make are in SunTrust. For example, it’s adding premier bankers for select clients and expanding its corporate banking service nationally.

“Those are the equivalent of small acquisitions,” he said.

SunTrust remains a relatively small player in the Charlotte area, especially compared to Charlotte-based Bank of America and Wells Fargo. As of June 30, the Atlanta-based bank was the sixth-biggest by deposits, with 0.69 percent market share and 38 branches, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data.

“What we want to do is grow,” Rogers said. “We don’t sit back and say, ‘Gosh, we want to have this amount of deposit share or loan share.’ We say, ‘Here’s the opportunity for the things we do, and how do we make sure we’re growing those businesses?”

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