10 Things You Didn’t Know About BB&T Corp CEO Kelly King

Everyone has a driving force that has pushed them to be where they are today. For BB&T Corp CEO Kelly King, it was more than just ambition, and currently, he is celebrated as a leading banker who has changed the banking industry. These facts below will let you in on what molded him to be who he is today.

1. Kelly’s hardest decision of his career was reducing dividends

When Kelly took over from John Allison as CEO of BB&T in 2009, the economy was in a crisis and so was the banking system. He was forced to adapt to the unexpected demands the government placed on banks as well as other forces that he could not control. He, therefore, decided to cut the company’s durable dividends from 47 cents to 15 cents per share, after holding the CEO position for six months.

2. He was once accused of incompetence and bad faith

Soon after reducing the durable dividends, Kelly received hate mail with people calling him a selfish executive who was only looking out for himself. The angry shareholders accused him of bad faith and incompetence, saying he was similar to a Wall Street scoundrel. BB&T shareholders had always had a rising payout, and since Kelly cut the dividends for the first time in almost forty years, they wanted it back.

3. Kelly worked on a tobacco farm as a child

Kelly’s family had a tobacco farm outside Zebulon, east of Raleigh. During the summer he worked on the farm six days a week, and that motivated him to look for an escape. Worse, he had to suffer through a sort of allergic reaction since nearly every night after cultivating the land, Kelly would throw up, yet he had no choice but get up and work.

4. Kelly’s first job was a salesman

Due to the constant falling ill, Kelly decided to look for a sales job after realizing that firms were always hiring salespersons. Consequently, when he joined high school, he became a salesman. First, Kelly peddled men’s clothing and later persuaded people into buying appliances such as vacuums.He was quite persuasive seeing that he once went door-to-door for 17 consecutive nights selling the vacuums, and every night he made a sale of $500 for each.

5. Kelly faced a personal crisis that led him to have greater faith

When Kelly left his family’s farm to work, he dreamed of being a boss someday. However, though his ambition still was alive, he was very far from realizing his dream. He was married, had two children, a beautiful house on the lake and a good salary, but Kelly was still miserable maybe because his marriage was not happy. Kelly thought about life and death. One day, he pulled over and cried like a baby as he talked to God, saying although he did not know much about God, he believed that something was greater than him. He joined Bible Study and later became a Sunday school teacher.

6. He got BB&T out of TARP in 2009

During the economic crisis that led Kelly to cut the dividends, BB&T entered the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in the fear that the government would undercapitalize if it failed to comply. However, King saw the implications of the decision and decided the bank should exit TARP, but the only way to do so was to sell common shares to raise capital. Kelly, therefore, pitched his plan to the shareholders, and institutional investors and BB&T raised $1.7 million in May 2009, making it possible for the bank to exit TARP in June 2009.

7. Kelly was due to retire in 2013

Having been born on September 12, 1948, Kelly King would have turned 65 years in September 2013, the retirement age as per his contract with BB&T. However, in December 2012, the bank removed that provision in his contract which has seen Kelly retain the CEO position until now.

8. He has been working at BB&T for 47 years

Kelly joined BB&T in 1972 and has served in the company under different roles. He has been CEO and chairman of BB&T Corporation since January 2010 while serving under the same capacity in the Branch Banking & Trust Co since January 2009. He has been a member of the Executive Management for 39 years and has held other leadership positions in various sectors.

9. Kelly was American Banker’s “Banker of The Year” in 2015

American Banker named Kelly as the “Banker of the Year” in 2015, commending him for steering the firm into profitability even during adversity and for providing a blueprint for merger and acquisition activities. BankInfoSecurity also honored him as “Top 10 Influencers in Banking InfoSec.”

10. He is behind the creation of the BB&T Lighthouse Project

The lighthouse project is an annual employee volunteer program which sees the BB&T associates donate their hours into community service projects.


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