CIBC exec changes may be prelude to more changes at top

A shakeup of senior positions at CIBC may be a prelude to more changes at top. But even if so, it simultaneously indicates the bank will maintain continuity across its operations.

CIBC on Tuesday became the latest of Canada’s major banks to announce a shake-up in its senior executive, possibly indicating that it will follow Scotiabank and TD in promoting internally to fill its top executive spot.

The bank has named Richard Nesbitt as Chief Operating Officer (COO), elevating his role but mainbtaining his responsibilities.  Nesbitt oversees wholesale banking, technology and operations, strategy and corporate development, and international operations and treasury. Current CIBC president and chief executive Gerry McCaughey had been COO for one year prior to assuming the CEO role.

"This title is in recognition of the leadership role Richard has been playing at CIBC over the past two years and the increased responsibilities he was given during that time," said McCaughey. "Richard is a key member of my management team and I look forward to continuing to work together with him to execute CIBC's strategy over the coming years."

The move follows announcements by two other major banks of internal transitions of the top executive role. Scotiabank in May said that chief executive Rick Waugh would depart in November and be replaced by current president Brian Porter.

In April, TD announced that CEO Ed Clark would retire in late 2014 and his position would be assumed by Bharat Masrani, head of the bank’s US operations. Masrani will assume the COO role at TD in July 2013.

The COO position is often a step before elevation to CEO. McCaughey  himself became president and COO in 2004. One year later, He took on the dual president and CEO roles.

A bank spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that speculation on senior leadership changes was "premature."

In a separate announcement the bank named Tom Woods as vice-chairman and Laura Dottori-Attanasio as chief risk officer.

"Tom and Laura are proven leaders who have contributed to the execution of CIBC's strategy and our performance," said Mr. McCaughey. "I look forward to continuing to work with them as we further evolve our client-centric strategy consistent with our lower risk bank profile and our goal of delivering consistent and sustainable earnings."