Updated March 5 at 6:05pm

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Citizens’ R.I. chief to join Wash. Trust

MarcAurele expected to move from COO to CEO next spring

Posted:

WESTERLY – Joseph J. MarcAurele, president of Citizens Financial Group Inc.’s Rhode Island division, will become a top executive at The Washington Trust Co. in September.

Today’s announcement by the bank’s parent, Washington Trust Bancorp Inc., of MarcAurele’s hiring follows a months-long search by the board of directors of Washington Trust (Nasdaq: WASH), which started looking for new leaders last winter after both Treanor and John C. Warren, the bank’s chairman and CEO, announced plans to retire.

Formally, MarcAurele will succeed John F. “Jack” Treanor as the bank’s president and chief operating officer on Sept. 21, with the intent being to have him take the bank’s top job next year.

“Joe has all of the qualities that make him an excellent choice for Washington Trust: He is a proven leader in the New England banking industry; he is well-respected as a community champion, and he is a Rhode Island native,” Warren said in a statement. “We are pleased to welcome Joe to our team and are confident in Joe’s ability to successfully guide Washington Trust in our third century of banking.”

MarcAurele has served as Citizens’ Rhode Island president since 2001. At one point he also served as chairman, president and CEO of Citizens Bank of Rhode Island and Connecticut. Citizens, which is owned by Royal Bank of Scotland plc, has faltered over the past year as the financial crisis badly damaged its parent company.

Before joining Citizens, MarcAurele worked for seven years at Fleet Financial Group, later acquired by Bank of America Corp., rising to senior vice president and director of human resources before his departure.

MarcAurele is a lifelong Rhode Islander. Born and raised in Pawtucket, he earned his bachelor’s degree at Holy Cross College and attended graduate school at Providence College. Before entering the banking industry, MarcAurele was an English teacher, coach and assistant principal at St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket. He lives with his wife, Meredith, in East Greenwich.

Treanor, who announced in January that he plans to take early retirement this October, has been Washington Trust’s president and chief operating officer for the past 10 years.

Warren, the chairman and CEO, has announced that he too will retire, effective next April. His successor has not yet been appointed. Warren has held the bank’s top job since 1996.

In a phone interview, Warren said the plan is for MarcAurele to join Washington Trust as president and chief operating officer of The Washington Trust Co.; then to replace Treanor as president and chief operating officer of Washington Trust Bancorp Inc., the bank-holding company that is The Washington Trust Co.’s parent; and then to succeed Warren as chairman and CEO next spring.

Warren said MarcAurele was one of “several outstanding, excellent candidates” from both inside and outside Washington Trust who were considered by the board. “It was a tough decision,” he said, and MarcAurele “is just a wonderful choice, and we’re very excited that he said yes.”

On Tuesday, Washington Trust reported a second-quarter profit of $3.77 million, or 23 cents per diluted share, down 38 percent from the year-ago period’s $6.1 million, on revenue that fell 2.8 percent year-over-year to $44.88 million.

In 2008, the bank posted an annual profit of $22.56 million on $181.78 million in revenue. The bank’s assets totaled $2.9 billion as of June 30.

In an unrelated development, Citizens Financial Group today named Stephen R. Woods, the company’s director of mid-corporate banking, as the new president of its Massachusetts operations.

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