Darnell to become vice chairman at Bank of America, relocate to Tampa

Bank of America veteran David Darnell is becoming vice chairman and relocating to Tampa, Fla., from Charlotte in a new organizational structure announced Monday by CEO Brian Moynihan.

Darnell, 61, is giving up the co-chief operating officer role he took on in 2011, but he will continue to report to Moynihan and lead global wealth and investment management and business banking. Bank of America in the past has placed senior leaders in vice chairmen roles as a prelude to retirement, but a memo obtained by the Observer did not discuss any such plans.

The move means Thomas Montag, 57, who joined the bank in its 2009 Merrill Lynch acquisition, will become the company’s sole chief operating officer, enhancing his profile inside and outside the company. A former Goldman Sachs executive, Montag has often been the company’s most highly compensated executive. Some observers have seen him as a potential successor to Moynihan, although he is close in age to the CEO, who is 54.

Montag will continue to focus on the bank’s investment banking and capital markets businesses and report to Moynihan, according to the memo, which was posted on the bank’s internal website Monday afternoon.

The memo said Darnell approached Moynihan several months ago to discuss “how he could continue to provide strategic leadership for our company, while allowing him the opportunity to relocate to Tampa with his family.”

Darnell, who joined the bank in 1979 in Greensboro as a credit analyst, is one of the bank’s most senior Charlotte-based executives. As the former NCNB became NationsBank and then Bank of America, he has moved across the country to hold key posts, from middle market banking group president to Midwest region president to Florida commercial division executive.

Darnell, a former Charlotte Chamber chairman, took charge of the bank’s consumer and wealth management businesses when he became co-chief operating officer in 2011 with Montag. Moynihan said he has asked Darnell to continue to focus on the bank’s customer strategy across the bank, including better coordination of customer referrals between various businesses in each market.

“This work is critical as we better integrate our capabilities in each of our markets,” Moynihan said. Moynihan recently put Ron Sturzenegger, head of legacy asset servicing, in charge of the company’s market presidents.

Moynihan also elevated two of the bank’s consumer banking executives, who will now report directly to the CEO. Dean Athanasia, based in Boston, leads preferred and small-business banking, while Thong Nguyen, who is based in Charlotte, leads retail banking. Both have long ties to Moynihan, having worked with him at FleetBoston Financial, which Bank of America acquired in 2004.