COLUMBUS, GA – Synovus Financial Corp. the Columbus, Georgia-based financial services company, Monday announced the selection of Kessel D. Stelling, Jr. as President and Chief Operating Officer (COO).
Stelling previously served as Synovus Regional CEO over the Atlanta market and President and CEO of Alpharetta-based Bank of North Georgia. Donald D. Howard, Synovus Regional CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bank of North Georgia, will serve as President and CEO of Bank of North Georgia and as Synovus Regional CEO over the Atlanta market. Howard helped form Bank of North Georgia in 1994. Both appointments are effective immediately.
As President and COO of Synovus, Stelling will oversee the company's day-to-day banking operations, retail delivery and diversification of the company's commercial banking efforts.
Stelling's immediate focus will center on leading the recently-announced charter consolidation while guiding continued efforts to address credit losses, strengthen lending practices, manage risk, facilitate deposit growth and care for team members and customers.
Stelling was selected after an in-depth search process conducted by an independent firm and overseen by a special succession committee made up of members of Synovus' Board of Directors.
"With deep roots in Georgia and long-standing relationships with regulators and other key state officials, Kessel is one of the most highly-respected bankers in the state and is well-known as a visionary leader in the banking industry," said Richard Anthony, Chairman and CEO of Synovus. "As Synovus continues to execute our strategy to navigate the difficult economic environment and prepares for the consolidation of our legal charter structure, choosing a leader who is intimately familiar with our company and who has established relationships throughout the Synovus family and our geographic footprint in the Southeast is the best decision for our team members, customers and shareholders. This transition comes at an important time in our company's history, and I am confident that Kessel has the expertise and skills to help position us for long-term growth and success."
Anthony added, "Don's long history as an effective leader and his relationships with Bank of North Georgia team members and customers will provide stability and consistency in that market during this transition and beyond. We have tremendous confidence in Bank of North Georgia's expert leadership team and its ability to continue aggressively managing the bank's credit issues."
Stelling founded Riverside Bank in 1996, a successful community bank in the Atlanta area, and skillfully guided its integration into Synovus 10 years later. After the merging of Riverside and Bank of North Georgia in 2006, Stelling was asked to lead the combined banks as President and Chief Executive Officer and has provided clear, decisive direction during the most difficult and challenging time in the bank's history.
Over the past two years, the Atlanta real estate market has posed serious challenges and generated significant losses in the banking sector. At Synovus' request, Stelling led the merging of several smaller banks into Bank of North Georgia and continued to effectively work through asset dispositions and customer issues for the larger organization.
Under his leadership, Bank of North Georgia's locations have grown from 19 to 43 branches and have expanded to 17 counties in metro Atlanta. He was promoted to Synovus Regional CEO for the Atlanta market in June 2008.
"I am honored to be selected to serve Synovus team members, customers and shareholders as President and COO," said Stelling. "I look forward to working with the exceptional team at Synovus to continue to build a strong company that brings value to customers."
Stelling is active in various leadership roles in the Atlanta community, most recently serving as Chairman of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and as a member of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia to which he was appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue. He is also a past Chairman of the Regional Business Coalition, and formerly served as a board member of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. Stelling is a graduate of the University of Georgia and the Graduate School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University.