Liam McGee will be the next chairman and chief executive officer of Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., the company says.

McGee, 55, will assume the chairman and CEO titles Thursday, and Ramani Ayer, the current chairman and CEO, will give up those titles but stay at Hartford Financial, Hartford, for a 1-month transition period, the company says.

Ayer, who announced plans to retire in June, has spent his entire career at Hartford. After he became chairman and CEO in 1997, he helped lead Hartford through years of strong growth, particularly in the annuity, retirement services and group benefits businesses. Earlier this year, the company ended up accepting help from the government after the capital markets crisis turned the financial system upside down.

McGee previously was president of the consumer and small business bank at Bank of America Corp., Charlotte, N.C.

“Liam’s strong track record of success in leading large, complex financial services organizations makes him the ideal person to build on The Hartford’s strong foundation,” Michael Morris, Hartford’s presiding director, says in a statement about McGee. “He has an outstanding combination of leadership skills, financial acumen and operational and technology experience, along with a demonstrated ability to evolve and profitably grow businesses in response to changing business environments and customer needs.”

“The Hartford has a strong brand that has been associated with trust and integrity for 200 years, great business franchises, a talented team of employees, and enduring relationships with distribution partners,” McGee says in his own statement. “In an environment of intense competition, technological innovation and changing consumer and business behavior, there are clear opportunities to create competitive advantages.”

Ayer says he will work with McGee’s to ensure a smooth transition and is praising McGee’s “deep appreciation of balancing risk and return.”

McGee has a bachelor’s degree from the University of San Diego, a master’s degree in business from Pepperdine University, and a law degree from Loyola Law School.

He is a member of the boards of the National Urban League, Washington, and the Financial Services Roundtable, Washington. He served 2 terms as a director of the Los Angeles branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.