William H. Cowie Jr., the president and chief executive officer of Signet Bank/Maryland, has announced that he will retire on April 18, the date of the annual meeting of the bank's parent company, Signet Banking Corp.
He will be succeeded by Kenneth H. Trout, the current executive vice president in charge of the bank's commercial line of business.
Cowie, 60, said he had long intended to retire at about this age and the move is not related to the downturn in the banking industry. "This is the time I wanted to retire. It doesn't have anything to do with the times," he said.
Trout, 42, said he plans to follow the business strategies established by Cowie. "Our house is in pretty good shape, excluding the commercial real estate loans," he said.
Signet Bank Corp., a bank-holding company based in Richmond, appears to have fared relatively well compared with the problems of other banks. For its third quarter, Signet reported a net income of $4.5 million, or 17 cents a share, compared with $27.8 million, or $1.04 a share, for the 1989 third quarter. For the first nine months, the company reported earning $34.6 million, or $1.30 a share, compared with $90.6 million, or $3.33 a share, for the same period a year ago.
The Maryland operation, by itself, had one of the highest net incomes of state-chartered banks during the third quarter, hitting $6.2 million, according to state regulators.
Cowie joined Union Trust Bank, the bank's predecessor, in 1971 as an executive vice president and director. A year later, he was elected president of the bank and its parent company, Union Trust Bancorp.
He was named the bank's chief executive officer in December 1986 and later became vice chairman of the Signet Bank Corp. and the president and chief executive of the Maryland operation.
Union Trust was acquired by Bank of Virginia Co. in Dec. 31, 1985. But the bank continued to be called Union Trust until March 1987 when it took the Signet name, which was earlier adopted by the Virginia parent company.
Cowie was a board member and past president of the Maryland Bankers Association and serves on the boards of various civic and business groups, such as the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Pride of Baltimore II, Harbor Health Systems Corp. and Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore Inc.
Trout joined Signet's Virginia operation in 1970 and was named a vice president and commercial loan officer in 1977. After a series of other positions, he was named executive vice president in the Metro Washington Group in 1986. He joined the Maryland operation last year and is a member of the management committee of Signet Banking Corp.
Signet Bank has 260 branches in Maryland, Virginia and Washington. There are 90 branches in Maryland alone.