Don Truslow heads a trade group for chief risk officers, but he used to oversee risk taking at Wachovia, a bank that nearly collapsed under the weight of its bad assets in 2008.

Three years after Wachovia sold itself to Wells Fargo & Co there are hardly any traces of the bank left, but its former senior executives are scattered across Wall Street and the broader banking world.

Ex-Wachovia executives hold top jobs at Citigroup Inc , Capital One Financial Corp , UBS AG , Bank of New York Mellon Corp and the U.S. subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Canada . Some also stayed on in key roles at Wells Fargo.

The success of Wachovia leaders is galling to some shareholders and employees who suffered from the bank's demise.

From my perspective, it's a club, said Mark Beck, who led a campaign against the Wells Fargo sale. They take care of their own.

Bankers from hobbled firms often resurface elsewhere unless they are directly implicated in wrongdoing or tied to big mistakes, such as Wachovia's purchase of mortgage lender Golden West Financial at the peak of the housing boom, said Miami-based banking consultant Ken Thomas.

If they didn't come into close proximity to that $25 billion disaster, they have a pretty clean resume, he said.

Former CEO Ken Thompson, who was ousted in June 2008 after leading Wachovia's ill-fated plunge into the mortgage business, joined a private-equity firm and sits on the board of a small North Carolina bank. Bob Steel, who engineered the bank's sale to Wells as the financial crisis flared, is deputy mayor for economic development in New York.

Executives such as Steel came in after Wachovia cratered, and recruiters and insiders say the bank had some talented employees who worked at the bank for years.

Wachovia, once the nation's fourth-biggest bank by assets, verged on collapse in September 2008, weighed down by losses tied to toxic mortgage loans and securities. In October, Wells swooped in to buy the bank in a deal initially valued at $7 per share. Two years earlier, Wachovia shares were around $60.

David Carroll, who ran the capital management division at Wachovia, nabbed the most prominent role at Wells, becoming head of wealth, brokerage and retirement services. He reports directly to CEO John Stumpf.


Among those who departed, Cece Stewart, Wachovia's former head of retail and small business banking, is president of the U.S. consumer and commercial bank at Citigroup. One of her former lieutenants, Jon Witter, runs the retail bank at Capital One.

Reggie Davis, former head of Wachovia's Eastern banking group, is president at RBC Bank, the Royal Bank of Canada unit that PNC Financial Services Group Inc
agreed to buy earlier this year.

Jane Sherburne, who served as Steel's general counsel during the financial crisis, holds the same position at Bank of New York Mellon.

As executive director of the Financial Stability Industry Council, Truslow said he is focused on implementing reforms that aim to prevent future crises.

My role is facilitating the industry and regulators working together, he said.

Before the mortgage meltdown, Wachovia's retail bank won top rankings in customer satisfaction surveys and its management was praised for executing a 2001 merger with First Union, said Rich Perkey of executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates.

I'm not trying to recast history, but there was a lot of talent in that organization, he said.

Shannon McFayden, Wachovia's former personnel chief, is now a consultant who advises organizations on corporate leadership, culture and other issues.

Wachovia's troubles have not been an issue when she has been approached about jobs or provided references for former employees.

I wondered if it would be a hurdle, she said.

After Wells agreed to buy Wachovia, general bank head Ben Jenkins joined Stewart at Morgan Stanley, when the New York firm was considering buying a retail bank. Stewart later moved to Citi and Jenkins retired in January.

Asked if he had any regrets about how things turned out at Wachovia, he said: That's too long ago and too painful to talk about.

(Reporting by Rick Rothacker in Charlotte, North Carolina; editing by Andre Grenon)