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Industry Spotlight > Women in Wealth

First Republic’s Erkan Named Greystone CEO

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Hafize Gaye Erkan, whose surprise departure from First Republic Bank disrupted the lender’s succession plans earlier this year, will become chief executive officer of Greystone as the closely held commercial-property lender expands into wealth management and private banking.

Erkan, 43, will be one of a small number of female CEOs to lead a financial-services company. She joins the New York-based Greystone in September, reporting to founder Steve Rosenberg, the firm’s executive chairman, according to a statement Monday.

Erkan’s resignation in January from First Republic, where she was co-CEO alongside founder Jim Herbert, came days after Herbert went on medical leave, triggering a one-day stock decline of 4.4%. During Erkan’s eight years at the San Francisco-based lender, deposits and total assets more than tripled.

“It was time for a change and for a new challenge, where I can be at a platform where I can utilize all my skill set in banking, private equity, investment and fund management,” Erkan said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “At Greystone, with the real estate business and further expansion plans, there will be a lot more opportunities for growth.”

A native of Turkey, Erkan moved to the U.S. to get a doctorate in financial engineering at Princeton University. She spent almost a decade at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., advising financial institutions on financing, stress testing and risk management.

In 2014, she joined First Republic, where her ascent to president and then co-CEO made her a familiar presence on earnings calls and at meetings with investors.

Representatives for First Republic didn’t respond to requests for comment. First Republic shares are down 29% this year, more than the 22% decline for the S&P 500 Banks Index.

Greystone, a First Republic client, provides financing to developers of multifamily properties and senior nursing facilities. Many of the loans it originates are resold to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration.

In December, Greystone sold a minority stake in its apartment lending and loan-servicing business to Cushman & Wakefield for $500 million to capitalize on the strong rental market.

Rosenberg, who founded the company in 1988, said he sees Erkan’s hiring as the first step to broadening Greystone’s offerings.

“We totally expect that a bank will be in our future,” he said.

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