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Opinion

Montag will be tough to replace at Bank of America

A tough-minded, independent thinker revered by many and disliked by some, Thomas Montag has been a dominant figure that will be hard to replace.

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Thomas Montag has not just led the global banking and markets businesses at Bank of America, he has dominated them. He was a leading figure in the rebuilding of the bank after the great financial crisis, the acquisition of Merrill Lynch and the departure of former chief executive Ken Lewis, who was blamed for the losses that followed his final rushed takeover.

Montag turned the acquisition of Merrill Lynch, a firm he had joined to run sales and trading just weeks before its 2008 rescue, from disaster to success.

Yesterday’s press release announcing his retirement points out that in the first half of 2021 the businesses Montag runs – all those that serve companies and institutional investors and including BofA Global Research and the global markets sales and trading businesses – contributed 46% of Bank of America’s revenues, up from 36% in 2009.

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Tom Montag.
Photo: David Hume Kennerly

Those numbers barely hint at the story.

In the maelstrom that swirled round the bank following its 2009 bailout, the newly arrived Montag was even considered as an outside candidate to be chief executive, before the younger Brian Moynihan, a lawyer by training who had been at Bank of America since its 2004 acquisition of Fleet Boston, got the job in 2010.

The


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