Banking

Charlotte will remain a hub for Ally Financial, new CEO says

Jeffrey Brown, the Charlotte-based CEO of Ally Financial, says Charlotte will remain a major hub for the Detroit company.
Jeffrey Brown, the Charlotte-based CEO of Ally Financial, says Charlotte will remain a major hub for the Detroit company. tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

Ally Financial’s new Charlotte-based CEO says the region will continue to be a major hub for the Detroit company, but he doesn’t expect the lender to dramatically expand its operations in the region as a result of his recent promotion.

Jeffrey Brown, 41, was named to his new post earlier this month, succeeding retiring chief executive Michael Carpenter. Before his promotion, Brown ran Ally’s auto finance and insurance business from his office in Charlotte.

In an interview with the Observer this week, Brown said he will remain based in Charlotte, where the company already employs roughly 800 people, mostly at its South Church Street tower.

“My position helps solidify or secure that Charlotte will remain a strong (hub) overall for Ally,” he said. “One of the things that I explained to the board is Charlotte has become home base for myself and my family.”

Brown said Charlotte will continue to be one of Ally’s three corporate centers, in addition to Detroit and New York. He said he expects to continue spending a lot of his time traveling to those and other U.S. markets to meet with the company’s customers.

While Ally, a major auto lender, does not concentrate a lot of its auto-lending operations in Charlotte, the region is a strong base for the company’s risk, compliance and technology functions. Some of the company’s top executives, including its chief financial officer and treasurer, are already based in Charlotte.

Brown said he does not expect the company to move additional operations to Charlotte or make a major expansion in the region now that he’s CEO. The lender’s employment in Charlotte is expected to remain steady, he said.

“I think we’ve got a nice-size footprint in the Charlotte area, and we’ll maybe make some tweaks here or there.”

Brown is Ally’s second Charlotte-based CEO. The first was Al de Molina, a former chief financial officer for Bank of America.

Before joining Ally, Brown was corporate treasurer for Charlotte-based Bank of America. He was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Ohio, which he left to attend Clemson University. After graduation, he went back to Ohio and moved to Charlotte in the late 1990s to take a job with NationsBank.

Brown takes over at Ally following the company’s recent loss of an exclusive lease agreement with General Motors. Investors will also be looking to Brown to boost the company’s stock price, which closed at $21.53 Wednesday, below its closing price of $23.98 on April 10, when it went public. Brown has said he’s disappointed with the performance of the stock.

Brown told the Observer his top priority for the company is to grow its profitability and enhance shareholder value. He sees opportunity in doing more business with the company’s existing customers, such as providing auto loans to customers of Ally’s online-only bank.

In Charlotte, Brown said Ally will look to expand its role supporting the community, such as through partnerships with charities.

“Charlotte’s a very important community for us, and we will look to play potentially a more visible role in the Charlotte area.”

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Twitter: @DeonERoberts

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