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Truist CEO affirms $1.6B expense save, foresees up to $1B revenue synergy

Truist Financial Corp. CEO Kelly King said the company expects to achieve the projected expense savings from its recently completed merger of equals.

At the same time, he said the projected efficiency ratio of 51% might not be achieved due to interest income uncertainty given the change in the rate environment. But the expense input for the efficiency ratio has not budged, and King said the bank is comfortable in hitting the predicted net savings of $1.6 billion.

"We've looked at that pretty thoroughly now, and we feel very good about being able to execute on that," King said at a Dec. 10 presentation at the Goldman Sachs U.S. Financial Services Conference.

On revenue, King said the bank has high hopes for potential synergies given various business lines operated at BB&T but not SunTrust, and vice versa. Specifically, he highlighted BB&T's insurance business to be cross-sold to SunTrust's clients and SunTrust's more developed businesses in capital markets and institutional investing.

"There's a long list of about 20, pretty easy, pretty big low-[hanging] fruit revenue items that we've already started working on," King said.

When asked about the potential size of the revenue synergies, King said it would be substantially greater than $100 million.

"We're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. I mean, over time, on a $20 billion company, I won't promise this, but I can see $1 billion of additional revenue coming from these areas because we're not having to create these strategies," King said.

Separately, King also defended the selection of the Truist brand name and discussed client retention efforts. He said management liked the brand name because it had a neutral effect on 91% of survey respondents, arguing that a neutral perception will allow the bank to build its reputation on its customer service capabilities. On client retention, King said the bank had figured out a technical solution to allow customers to keep the same account number, saying that having to switch account numbers is traditionally a significant contributor to attrition in bank deals.