Bankwell CEO Peyton Patterson has resigned

Peyton R. Patterson, the Bankwell Financial Group CEO, president and board member, resigned Friday, the community bank group, based in New Canaan, announced Friday morning, Aug. 8.

Chairman Blake S. Drexler has been appointed executive chairman by the board of directors and will assume Patterson’s responsibilities, according to a Bankwell statement sent to the Advertiser. “The board has formed a search committee to identify a qualified candidate to serve as chief executive officer,” according to city. “The board will consider internal and external candidates for the role. Once the search is complete, Mr. Drexler will return to his former role of non-executive chairman.”

Since taking over in 2012, Patterson has led the former Bank of New Canaan’s mergers, expansion in the region, new branding and recent $48.6 million initial public offering. But her personal finances were called into question by the Hartford Business Journal.

The HBJ reported in June that Patterson, who has been named one of the most powerful women in banking, is more than $400,000 in debt due to unpaid credit card bills, back taxes and unpaid country club memberships.

“After careful consideration and discussions with the board, I have decided it is in the best interests of the company to resign from my positions,” said Ms. Patterson. “I am incredibly proud of what we achieved during my time at Bankwell and did not want my personal matters to overshadow the accomplishments and hard work of our team. I am certain the company’s comprehensive product offerings, strong financial position and experienced leadership will ensure its continued success.”

Patterson took over what was then the BNC Financial Group, which included the Bank of New Canaan, in 2012. As CEO and president, she led the bank in its acquisition of Wilton Bank and the company’s transformation into Bankwell Finance Group.

The case of Patterson’s back taxes was withdrawn and most of that money was paid to the town of Madison, a town official told the HBJ this past spring.

In the other cases, a judge ordered Patterson to pay the nearly $393,000 in debts, according to the HBJ. Court filings, obtained by the HBJ, show that Patterson did not formally respond to summonses in the Amex and country club cases. As a result, the plaintiffs’ attorneys won default motions for failure to appear, which led to the quicker judgments.

The other overdue bill for Patterson is for a phone system installed in her New Canaan home, the HBJ reported. Gregg Haughton of Granite Communications in North Haven told the HBJ that Patterson didn’t pay him $1,008 for a phone system his company installed early last year.

“I would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to Peyton for her significant contributions to the company during her tenure,” Drexler said in a statement released Friday. “Peyton’s leadership and dedication was a key component of our successful initial public offering, and we wish her the best in her future endeavors. One of her greatest legacies is the strong, experienced executive team she helped assemble. This will allow for a smooth transition of responsibilities without any disruptions to the business. I am confident the depth of our executive team, strong financial position and talented employees will ensure Bankwell continues on its upward trajectory.

“We are pleased with the performance of the bank, having just reported another successful quarter and remain on track with all our strategic initiatives including the acquisition of Quinnipiac Bank & Trust,” Drexler said.

Bankwell has branches in New Canaan, Wilton, Stamford and Fairfield.

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