Bank of America's CEO Should Follow Pandit: Street Whispers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Citigroup ( C)'s firing of CEO Vikram Pandit shows that bank boards may finally be taking their responsibilities seriously, so maybe Bank of America ( BAC)'s board will step up to the plate and dump their CEO, Brian Moynihan.

Bank of America shares have lost 37% since Moynihan took over as CEO in 2010--while Citigroup shares are up roughly 10% over the same time period. While most of Bank of America's problems stem from the acquisition of Countrywide in 2008, which can't be pinned on Moynihan, he hasn't been able to convince the market he's got his arms around the problem. He also hasn't been able to clearly articulate his strategy for the bank going forward, which is the reason a major investor in the shares and a prominent analyst who covers the company can't agree on what it is.

Also, as longtime Bank of America shareholder Jonathan Finger of Finger Interests points out , Moynihan could shed some additional light on whether Bank of America has considered putting Countrywide into bankruptcy and why it hasn't gone that route.

More important, though, and also noted by Finger, is that Bank of America's brand is in the toilet, and management seems to be unconcerned about this issue. In order for Bank of America to rebuild its consumer business, it will need to find a way to counter its image as a sleazy, inept corporate monolith that screws up people's paperwork and chucks them out of their homes. Since Moynihan can't seem to figure out a way to do that, Bank of America's board needs to find someone who can.

Finger doesn't want to see Moynihan get the boot as he believes it would just be a distraction at this point. There are also concerns about whether the bank could find anyone qualified to run it. But now that the housing market is rebounding, turning around Bank of America seems far easier than it did just a year ago. Attracting outside candidates ought not to be so difficult. Look at AIG ( AIG) and the remarkable job Bob Benmosche has done turning around that institution. Before Benmosche was brought in to lead AIG, no one would've believed anyone qualified wanted that job either.

There is a great opportunity to turn around not just Bank of America, but banking in America in general. Corporate turnaround wizard Wilbur Ross stated this opportunity very succinctly in an interview on CNBC Tuesday. He noted that big companies have no trouble getting access to capital, while small businesses and consumers do. This represents an opportunity banks are missing, and that Bank of America is well-positioned to capture. The board just needs to appoint someone to the top job who understands what needs to be done.

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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