SAN FRANCISCO — Bank of America, in an effort to accelerate its turnaround, Monday named R. Thomas Decker as executive vice president and head of the commercial banking division of its California Banking Group.
Decker, 49, who is the sixth veteran of Wells Fargo & Co. to accept a high-level position with that company's big and troubled rival, left Wells last November. He became president and chief operating officer of Pollock Financial Group, an investment advisory and real estate syndication firm in Palo Alto.
In his new job, Decker will report to Vice Chairman Richard M. Rosenberg, another Wells Fargo alumnus, who joined Bank of America this year and is moving quickly to put his imprint on B of A's California Banking Group, a sprawling operation that includes 895 branches and 35,000 workers.
"It is no surprise that Rosenberg is bringing in some known and trusted lieutenants," one longtime observer of the BankAmerica unit said. Rosenberg recently lured Thomas E. Peterson from Wells to serve as executive vice president and head of Bank of America's branch network.
With Decker's appointment, veterans of Wells Fargo now hold three of BankAmerica's four vice chairmanships and three of its 17 executive vice presidencies. Already, they are bringing Wells Fargo's no-nonsense style of management to an organization steeped in years of paternalism.
"These people have operated in Bank of America's shadow for so long that it has got to be intriguing for them to go across the street and wrestle with the $100-billion monster," said one securities analyst who requested anonymity. "B of A is showing these people some awfully good money up front and, if things work out well, their stock options will be great wealth builders," he added.
Decker's division serves mid-sized corporate customers through more than 28 major offices and 27 business centers in California. "The opportunity for growth at Bank of America is significant," he said in a prepared statement.
Most of the responsibilities that will become Decker's have been handled by Allen W. Sanborn, 45, who remains an executive vice president and will concentrate on wholesale real estate activities.
Separately, Rosenberg announced an internal reorganization of the Banking Group at its management meeting here Monday.
The bank declined to release details, but sources said the plan will reduce the number of area managers to about 45 from 61 and decentralize authority for approving loans.