Joseph J. DePaolo, co-founder, president and CEO of Signature Bank, plans to transition into a senior advisor role during 2023. Eric R. Howell, the current chief operating officer of the bank, will succeed DePaolo as president, effective March 1. DePaolo will retain the CEO role and will remain on the bank’s board of directors. In addition, Howell will continue serving as chief operating officer and a member of the board of directors. Once DePaolo gradually completes his transition into this newly created advisory role, Howell will also be named CEO.
DePaolo, along with vice chairman John Tamberlane and chairman of the board Scott Shay, co-founded Signature Bank in 2001. DePaolo has held the role of president and CEO since that time.
Throughout the past 22 years, DePaolo has been credited with developing and executing Signature Bank’s differentiated single-point-of-contact banking model since its inception as a de novo startup institution in the New York metropolitan area. During his tenure, DePaolo led Signature in becoming one of the nation’s top 25 largest banks, achieving this feat without any acquisitions.
Howell has been serving as senior executive vice president and chief operating officer for the past two years. He joined Signature Bank at the time of its founding as controller and has since held several roles of increasing responsibility. In 2013, Howell was appointed executive vice president of corporate and business development. In that role, he launched various national business lines and expanded Signature Bank’s footprint to include the West Coast. Earlier, he held the post of executive vice president and CFO. In 2022, Howell succeeded Tamberlane as a member of the board of directors.
“During his distinguished 22-year career at the helm of Signature Bank, I believe Joe has accomplished what no other bank CEO has. He managed the growth of Signature Bank from a start-up entity with $50 million in assets to an institution exceeding $100 billion in assets,” Shay said. “Signature Bank, at the time of its founding, ranked somewhere around the 7,900th largest U.S.-based commercial bank, based on deposits. It has since grown to become a top 25 largest U.S.-based commercial bank ranked by deposits, today. I have worked with Joe every business day throughout the years, and each day, he brings his enormous energy, judgment and grounded ethical leadership to bear. These notable qualities are a remarkable gift to all his colleagues, including me. To say that his energy is contagious is an understatement, and his perspicacity in every meeting has been a model for all of us as we have learned from him. As Joe begins this time of transition, the bank remains well positioned and in good hands, as we benefit from his decades of passion, direction and guidance.”
For the past several years, the board has been deeply involved in guiding this transition and has been working to make it as seamless as possible.”
“I have been fortunate to work closely with Eric since he became CFO. I have witnessed him tackle every ascending role he has held within the bank with a keen sense of confidence, gumption and business acumen,” Shay said. “Eric has worked closely with Joe, John and me over the years, successfully inculcating the valued tenets attributable to Signature Bank’s success. I look forward to continuing to work with Eric and taking Signature Bank from strength to strength as we all stand to gain from the depth of Joe’s experience and leadership.”
“Serving on the board of Signature Bank during Joe DePaolo’s tenure as CEO has been a very positive experience. Joe combined financial expertise with excellent management skills and an unshakable commitment to fairness in the bank’s dealings with its clients, colleagues and the broader community with whom I directly and regularly engage to advance my work in Congress,” Barney Frank, a former U.S. congressman and board member at Signature Bank, said. “Having myself decided years ago to reduce my level of professional activity after decades of all-consuming work, I fully understand Joe’s decision to take on a less intense role in the bank’s affairs. I am assured Signature Bank will continue to thrive, both by Joe’s welcome agreement to maintain a significant role in the board’s work and also based on my high regard for his designated successor, Eric Howell.”
“I have thoughtfully planned my transition and continued involvement with the bank. To this end, I have spent more time with Eric throughout the past 20-plus years than any other person in my circle. Since the transition has been years in the making, I am confident it will go smoothly as the future of the bank is in Eric’s good hands,” DePaolo said. “With regard to my relationship with Scott and John, I could not have two better partners, who over the years, have also become good friends. We will always be co-founders of this dynamic institution. Together, our blood, sweat and tears made Signature Bank what it is today, and we are very proud of our achievements. While it is a bittersweet time for me, I am excited about the future leadership and direction of Signature Bank.”
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