BANGOR, Maine — Bangor Savings Bank on Tuesday morning announced the retirement of its CEO, James Conlon, and named a successor who will next year take the reins of Maine’s largest locally owned bank.
Conlon, who has worked at Bangor Savings Bank for nearly 20 years, including nine as CEO, will retire on June 1, 2015, less than a month after his 60th birthday.
In an interview with the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday, Conlon said the decision was not rushed and that his plan for years was to retire when he turns 60.
“Having been here since 1996, and with KeyBank for 15 years before that, that’s a long time in the business,” Conlon said. “I want to make sure I have a lot of years to spend with my grandkids. It’s just time and that’s been the plan from a succession standpoint for some time.”
Bangor Savings Bank’s board of directors named Robert S. Montgomery-Rice, a 10-year veteran of the bank and currently its chief operations officer, as “successor-elect” at its meeting on Monday.
Bangor Savings Bank is the largest Maine-based bank in the state. As of June 30, 2013, it had nearly $2.2 billion in deposits, which constitutes 5.73 percent of the statewide market, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Conlon joined Bangor Savings Bank in 1996 as its senior lender. He became the bank’s 11th CEO in June 2005, and received the title of president the next year.
Conlon has overseen the bank during a time of significant growth, including what he called an “enormously successful” expansion into the southern Maine market.
The bank’s total assets have grown more than 70 percent during his tenure, from nearly $1.8 billion in 2005 to more than $3 billion this year. In addition, the number of branches has grown from 43 to 57, and the number of employees from 550 to nearly 720.
“When you are charged with the management responsibility of a bank that’s been around for over 160 years, and it’s a mutual, it’s all about stewardship,” he told the BDN when asked about what his legacy will be. “We’ve positioned this bank to be here for the next generation and that’s the whole goal, to make sure the business plan is sustainable and to build a bank that can weather the test of time.”
Conlon is not removing himself completely from the bank’s operations. He will retain his seat on the bank’s board of directors after his retirement.
The board has focused on selecting Conlon’s successor for the past 18 months. It did not consider external candidates for the position of the bank’s new CEO, instead choosing to promote from within.
“We were fortunate to have some incredibly talented internal candidates,” Gena Canning, the board’s vice chairwoman, said in a statement. “As a result, we chose not to look at external options, and instead focused our time and energy on a thorough consideration of several strong internal leaders.”
Montgomery-Rice, 48, joined Bangor Savings Bank as its director of human resources in 2004, the year before Conlon assumed the CEO title. Before joining the bank, Montgomery-Rice held various senior and executive roles at companies in Massachusetts such as BankBoston, Cambridgeport Bank and Fidelity Investments.
“Bangor Savings is a unique place,” Montgomery-Rice told the BDN in an interview Tuesday, “in that we really take to heart how we treat customers, employees and really live in our communities. At different banks different aspect of that can be important, but here we’ve been really able to pull it together.”
While Montgomery-Rice grew up and went to school in Massachusetts, he spent summers on the Maine coast and met his wife, a Searsport native, here. He and his wife currently reside in Hampden.
As Bangor Savings Bank’s chief operations officer, Montgomery-Rice currently oversees consumer banking, information technology and real estate management. Montgomery-Rice said he has spent most of the last 10 years overseeing a good portion of the bank’s operations, but that his background in human resources will serve him well.
“You absolutely cannot be devoid of the financial knowledge and that’s a lot of the stuff I took care of the last 10 years, but when you lead 700-plus dedicated employees, you really have to keep that human element,” he said. “I think Jim has been stellar about doing that. He’s put together a great team. I’m fortunate to inherit this wonderful group of people, from the board all the way down to the tellers.”
When asked what he sees as Bangor Savings’ largest challenge on the horizon, Montgomery-Rice said it will be remaining relevant as technology changes the way its customers interact with the bank.
“I think that’s banking’s biggest challenge over the next decade,” Montgomery-Rice said. “Because in the end, people still want good personal relationships with the people they entrust their money with, but they want the speed and convenience of everything we have on our phones.”
Montgomery-Rice will immediately assume an interim role as chief operating officer and work with Conlon over the next year to prepare for the transition.
Conlon said Montgomery-Rice’s experience and understanding of the bank’s culture make him an “ideal candidate” for the job. He said he looked forward to working closely with him during the next year to facilitate a “seamless, thoughtful, prudent succession.”
When asked if he had one piece of advice for Montgomery-Rice, Conlon said it would be to remember that “it’s all about the people.”
“At the end of the day, it’s about the employees, the customers and those communities out there,” Conlon said. “That would be my singular piece of advice to him, to never forget that.”