NYCB hires new CFO, general counsel

NYCB hires new CFO, general counsel

New York Community Bank hired a new CFO and, separately, general counsel, the bank said in a Friday press release that does not mention the previous executives in those roles.

Craig Gifford, a 15-year veteran of U.S. Bank, joins NYCB as CFO, effective immediately, the bank said. Gifford served as U.S. Bank’s executive vice president for infrastructure operations from 2020 to 2023 and, previously, as the bank’s corporate controller dating back to 2008, according to his LinkedIn profile.

It’s in that role that Gifford would have crossed paths with Joseph Otting, the former comptroller of the currency who last month was named CEO of NYCB. Otting worked at U.S. Bank from 2001 to 2010, leaving as vice chair and head of the Minneapolis-based lender’s commercial banking group.

Gifford “brings proven experience in navigating challenging financial environments, including raising capital and delivering profitable results,” NYCB said in Friday’s press release.

He (presumably) replaces John Pinto, who became CFO at NYCB in December 2020, in tandem with former CEO Thomas Cangemi’s appointment. Pinto came to NYCB in 2001 as part of the bank’s merger with Richmond County Savings Bank and served as chief accounting officer from 2005 to 2020, according to a staff bio that, until early Monday morning, was still live on NYCB’s website.

NYCB also hired Bao Nguyen, a partner at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, to serve as the bank’s general counsel and chief of staff, also effective immediately, the bank said.

Nguyen served from 2018 to 2021 as principal deputy chief counsel with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the agency Otting led until 2020.

Nguyen “oversaw significant policy decisions, rulemaking, transaction reviews and enforcement matters” at the OCC and advised banks, fintechs and private equity firms “on the regulatory aspects of complex transactions, charters, compliance matters and enforcement issues,” NYCB said in its release Friday.

His hiring likely reflects an attempt by new management at NYCB to bring the bank to the right side of regulators. The Hicksville, New York-based lender in January disclosed a $252 million fourth-quarter loss over commercial real estate exposure. The announcement sent the bank’s share price into a tailspin that continued despite a CEO change and the hiring of new risk and audit executives. The bank last month received a $1.05 billion capital infusion from investors led by former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Otting was named CEO in connection with the transaction.

“It was important to appoint leaders … with the requisite large bank experience and proven track record in building a high-performing financial institution with a strong risk and compliance framework,” Otting wrote in a memo seen Friday by The Real Deal.

Nguyen (again, presumably) replaces Patrick Quinn as NYCB’s general counsel. Like Pinto, Quinn was appointed to his role within a week of Cangemi taking charge as CEO, according to a staff bio. Quinn joined NYCB in 2003 as part of the bank’s merger with Roslyn Bancorp and served as chief corporate governance officer and corporate secretary before becoming general counsel. Quinn’s LinkedIn profile did not include his departure from NYCB as of early Monday morning.

In addition to Gifford and Nguyen, NYCB hired Scott Shepherd as its new head of CRE lending. Shepherd most recently served as managing director at the Ruth Group, where he “focused on secured debt financing to acquire and refinance value-add office and industrial conversion properties and complex restructurings,” NYCB said in Friday’s release. Shepherd was CRE chief for OneWest Bank from 2010 to 2015, mirroring Otting’s tenure as CEO there. Early in his career, Shepherd spent 10 years as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs.

Shepherd replaces John Adams in leading NYCB’s CRE function, The Real Deal reported.

NYCB also brought aboard James Simons to serve as a special adviser to Otting, with particular focus on credit administration, portfolio management and lending projects. Simons, most recently chief credit officer at First Citizens Bank, has been a mainstay during at least two seasons of Otting’s career. He worked as senior credit officer at U.S. Bank from 2001 to 2007 and joined OneWest Bank as chief approval officer in 2011, staying on through OneWest’s merger with CIT, then CIT’s merger with First Citizens.

“We are thrilled to welcome Craig, Bao, Scott and James to our executive team. Their collective expertise and deep industry knowledge will be instrumental in driving our strategic initiatives forward and solidifying our position as a leading regional bank,” Otting said in Friday’s release. “These appointments underscore [NYCB’s] commitment to fostering a culture of excellence, innovation and integrity, as it continues to deliver value to shareholders and service to our customers.”

This story was originally published on Banking Dive. To receive daily news and insights, subscribe to our free daily Banking Dive newsletter.