Atlantic Coast Financial Corporation (the "Company" or "Atlantic Coast Financial," NASDAQ symbol: ACFC), the holding company for Atlantic Coast Bank (the "Bank"), today announced that its Board of Directors has named John K. Stephens President and Chief Executive Officer of both Atlantic Coast Financial and Atlantic Coast Bank, contingent upon receipt of regulatory non-objection from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Stephens will replace Thomas B. Wagers, Sr., who has served as Interim President and Chief Executive Officer since July 2013.
Stephens is a 23-year veteran of the banking and financial services industry. From 2006 to 2011, he served as Chief Lending Officer for the Central and North Florida affiliate banks of Fifth Third Bank, N.A., overseeing a loan portfolio of almost $2 billion and responsible for strategic leadership for all wholesale banking activities. Stephens began his career in 1986 with Wachovia Bank, N.A., where he started as a regional banking officer, later became a relationship manager responsible for originating and managing senior debt and ancillary service relationships with corporate clients, and was ultimately selected to start and lead a leveraged finance group. Most recently, Stephens served as President of Orlando, Florida-based Tower Bridge Capital, Inc.
Stephens received an MBA, with a concentration in corporate finance and capital markets, from the University of Notre Dame, Mendoza Graduate School of Business, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Carolina.
In commenting on the announcement, Jay Sidhu, who led the CEO search committee for the Company, said, "Our Board is very excited that John has accepted our invitation to lead the Company as its CEO, and we believe all of our constituents – shareholders, customers and employees – will be equally excited once they get to know him. John is a proven leader who brings significant banking experience to our company, including working in our northeast Florida market. During his more than 23 years in the financial industry, he has been a key player in all aspects of the banking industry, advancing to virtually every critical position in a bank's structure. We expect his diverse experience and excellent track record to be invaluable to Atlantic Coast Financial as we continue to develop and implement our strategic initiatives."