Heartland Financial CEO Bruce Lee to leave

  • After about six and a half years in the position
  • Praise and thanks for Lee
  • Search for a successor

(exechange) — Denver, Colorado, February 20, 2024 — This news came shortly after Presidents’ Day. Bruce Lee, chief executive of Heartland Financial, is set to leave his position. As announced by Heartland Financial USA Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Tuesday, February 20, 2024, Bruce K. Lee leaves his post as chief executive officer at the bank holding company operating under the brand name HTLF, after about six and a half years in the role, effective December 31, 2024.

Heartland Financial will undertake a search for a successor.

Long goodbye

It is a long goodbye. The announcement of Bruce Lee’s move comes up to 10 months prior to his planned departure from the post of CEO.

In general, a top executive who announces the departure particularly early may be considered a lame duck.

Lengthy lead times give boards extra time to find replacements, and they also create uncertainty. Would-be successors may jockey for attention and workers may wonder who is actually in charge.

Generally speaking, lame-duck leaders can take a forceful role in selecting a successor and are not expected to launch major shifts.

No reason given

In the announcement, Heartland Financial did not explicitly explain the reason for the move.

Precise information regarding Bruce Lee’s future plans was not immediately available.


Heartland Financial said: “Bruce K. Lee, President and Chief Executive Officer, and a member of the Board of Directors, intends to retire at the end of 2024.”

Heartland Financial further said: “[O]n February 13, 2024, Bruce K. Lee, the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”), and a member of the Board of Directors (the “Board”), informed the Board that he intends to retire by the end of 2024.”

Share price decline since February 2019

The announcement follows a decline in Heartland Financial USA Inc.’s share price of 26% since February 2019.

In the position of CEO since 2018

Bruce Lee became CEO of the Company in 2018.

Concurrent with his retirement as CEO, Lee also intends to retire from the Board.

Lee is the President and Chief Executive Officer of HTLF.

He was named Chief Executive Officer effective June 1, 2018, and has served as President since 2015.

He has over 30 years of experience in the banking industry.

Prior to joining HTLF, Lee had a twelve year career with Fifth Third, where he held numerous leadership positions including Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer; Executive Vice President and Director of Special Assets; and Executive Vice President, Commercial Banking Division Head and Affiliate Senior Commercial Banker.

Prior to that, he served as President and CEO of a Fifth Third affiliate bank, where he managed sales and service functions for retail, commercial, residential mortgage and investments, along with the staff functions of finance, human resources and marketing.

Lee has wide-ranging banking experience and perspective as HTLF expands its size and geographic reach.

He earned his BA in Business Administration and Management from Siena Heights University.

No statement by Bruce Lee

In the release announcing his departure as CEO of Heartland Financial USA Inc., Bruce Lee received praise and thanks.

The announcement of his departure as CEO does not include a statement by Bruce Lee.

The above text is an excerpt from the exechange report 9.2024 ($), publication date February 26, 2024.