BofA’s Moynihan Calls His Decade-Long Turnaround a ‘Nice Start’

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Brian Moynihan took over Bank of America Corp. in chaos.

Moynihan inherited a bank that was on the brink of extinction, hobbled by the collapse of the U.S. housing market. It faced lawsuits and public criticism and paid the most fines, $76.1 billion, of any bank from 2009 to 2019, according to the U.S. House Financial Services Committee.

Marking his 10 years at the helm this month, the chief executive officer can tout a remarkable turnaround, including a 130% gain in its share price, $88 billion in share buybacks and dividends, and a swing from multibillion-dollar losses to record profits.

Moynihan, 60, spoke in a Jan. 9 interview in his 50th floor office overlooking Bryant Park in New York City. Comments have been edited and condensed.

How did the company recover from the financial crisis?

When I talk to people who are taking over companies during times of stress, I always say you have to keep going with the core business. While we had people dealing with mortgages, we had people working the core businesses at the same time. The earnings power was always there, and we knew it.

It’s a decade-long transformation. You can’t do this overnight. It takes years to get it done and it takes lots of investment. And we have to be client-focused.

You’ve been a wartime president and a peacetime president. Which is better, and why?

You’re always a peacetime president. Whatever the issue was at the moment, the whole time we had hundreds of thousands of talented teammates working on the peacetime delivery. The idea is just to do the work. The No. 1 issue for a person in a time of stress is to be calm, in every field.

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud that we produced the shareholder returns and we did it the right way for the teammates. We did it the right way for customers.

Are you relieved about the bank’s recovery after the financial crisis?

No, it’s just more work ahead. Nice start.

There’s always something going on that reminds you how to manage through times of crisis. On a given day, something is going on in the world that reminds you that things can go wrong. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We’ve got a lot of good things we can do. Through a lot of stress, the company has come out the other end really poised to continue to take market share.

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