John Watt, president and CEO of NBT Bancorp, will step down from his role, effective May 21, but will continue to serve on the board of directors and be named vice chair upon his retirement, the company announced Monday.
NBT said it conducted a thorough, 10-month search and chose Scott Kingsley, the company’s CFO as Watt’s successor. Kingsley will become a board member once he assumes the top role, NBT said.
Watt will offer strategic support for NBT’s Upstate New York Semiconductor Chip Corridor initiatives while continuing as an adviser to the company until year-end, the bank said.
“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to lead NBT and to work with the team I truly believe is the best in community banking,” Watt said in a statement. “I am proud of the way we serve our customers and communities and how we have continued to create long-term value for our shareholders. The Board has been very supportive of our strategy, and I am also thankful for their guidance over the last 7 years.”
With four months until his retirement, Watt’s primary goal is ensuring a smooth transition to the next group of leaders, he told American Banker. He said he also wants to ensure NBT benefits economically from a semiconductor manufacturing facility being built in the Syracuse area, in addition to helping Kingsley prepare a budget and strategic plan for 2024.
“If I can do all those things, the next [four months] are going to go in a flash,” Watt told American Banker.
The Norwich, New York-based company grew its assets from around $8.6 billion to $13.3 billion under Watt’s leadership.
Watt and Kingsley each have more than 35 years of experience in the financial services industry. Watt, who was appointed the CEO in 2016, joined the company in 2014.
Prior to joining NBT in 2021, Kingsley served as a member of the management team at Community Bank Systems for 16 years — also working as the COO and CFO at the company.
Annette Burns, NBT’s chief accounting officer, will assume the CFO role and report to Kingsley.
NBT’s board also promoted Joseph Stagliano, president of retail community banking and chief information officer, to president of NBT Bank, N.A.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I offer our sincere thanks to John Watt for the vision and energy he has invested in the leadership of the Company and for the effective direction he has provided to the NBT team, particularly through the global pandemic,” NBT Board Chair Martin Dietrich said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have an aligned executive management team with strong and experienced leaders ... who are poised to assume these top leadership roles as we move forward with this succession plan in May.”
NBT on Monday also announced its fourth-quarter earnings. The bank’s net income for all of 2023 stood at $118.8 million, down from $152 million in 2022.
“NBT’s fourth-quarter and full-year results reflect our consistent dedication to improving our traditional banking franchise while growing our diversified revenue sources,” Watt said in the bank’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “In a year characterized by unprecedented market volatility, we grew loans and deposits, maintained strong asset quality, improved our capital position, completed the high-value acquisition of Salisbury Bancorp, Inc., and continued to deliver best-in-class customer service.”